Thanks for Pete Fraser for sending me this link to the History News Network . An article on this rather good site highlights the origin of the Olympic torch relay. Not good news that it was engineered for the Nazi Games in
Berlin. Its apposite that the BCOG have taken a leaf from Nazis lexicography and have called the torch procession “The Journey of Harmony” and our using it for their own brand of cuddly propaganda.
“In fact, this ceremony never occurred at the ancient Olympics. The modern conception is a mishmash of two quite different pagan traditions that
Berlin’s masterminds—in particular, Dr. Carl Diem, a leading German scholar who became head of the organizing committee—had brilliantly reworked.
Olympia, like all ancient Greek and Roman sanctuaries, did have its own eternal flame, which was kept burning for Hestia, goddess of the hearth, in a building called the Prytaneion, or “Magistrate’s House.” It was used to light all the sacrificial fires at altars throughout the sanctuary. The “revived” 1936 torch race perfectly fit the Nazi design for the Olympics as a showcase for the New Germany. With its aura of ancient mysticism, the rite linked Nazism to the civilized glories of classical Greece, which the Reich’s academics were arguing had been an Aryan wonderland. (They were particularly fond of the macho, warlike Spartans—Hitler was even inexplicably convinced that the peasant soup of Schleswig-Holstein was a descendant of Spartan black broth, a famously austere staple fed to the men in communal messes as they underwent their brutal training.) Hitler took considerable personal interest in the ritual, and pumped funds into its promotion: The Nazi propaganda machine covered the torch relay slavishly, broadcasting radio reports from every step of the route, and filled the Games with the iconography of ancient Greek athletics. Afterward, the ceremony became permanently embedded in the popular imagination, in part due to Leni Riefenstahl’s documentary of the Nazi Games, Olympia, which evocatively showed a Greek runner treading the gentle beaches of the
Aegean at dusk.