Thursday, July 12, 2012

Brief History of the Olympics :1940 and 1944 ‘Special Olympics’ or ‘International Prisoner-of-War Olympic Games

There were no Olympic Games in 1940, or 1944.

Allied POW held a “Special Olympics” called International Prisoner-of-War Olympic Games in 1940. The prisoners in Stalag number XIII-A in Langwasser close to Nuremberg made an Olympic flag (29 cm by 46 cm) from the shirt of a Polish prisoner. The Olympic rings were drawn in crayon and banners for Belgium, France, Great Britain, Norway, Poland, Russia and Yugoslavia. The events were carried out in complete secrecy from the captors and the Olympic oath was sworn with the flag by three prisoners, one Polish, one French and one British. The sporting programme included football, handball, volleyball and basketball tournaments, as well as athletic competitions and boxing and chess tournaments. The number of competitions (464) considerably exceeded the number of participants (369) and some participants took part in several contests. In total, there were 48 meets in all events. Only the boxing tournament was not completed, as this category proved to be too exhausting and dangerous for people living in prison camp conditions. Teodor Niewiadomski hid and took the flag and other souvenirs including a miniature poster, a paper medal and a volume of poetry out of the camp. These artifacts were eventually presented to the Muzeum Sportu i Turystyki, Warsaw, Poland. In 1979 director Andrzej Kotkowski made a film called Olimpiada '40 which tells the story of Teodor Niewiadomski and the Special Olympics.”

In 1944 Polish POW at Woldenberg (Dobiegniew) Oflag II-C POW camp held their POW Olympics and in addition to the sporting events, art, painting, sculpture and music contests were organized. Lieutenant Antoni Grzesik was the overall organizer. This time the German gave their permission. The Olympic Flag was made with a bed sheet and pieces of coloured scarves was raised. The event was considered good for prisoners’ morale.

In the same year the IOC organized celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. Called was referred to as "The Jubilee Celebrations of IOC".

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