It only took over seventy years, but Gretel finally is getting her due. Gretel Bergmann (now Margaret Lambert), now 95, moved to NYC in 1937, having escaped from Nazi Germany. Over 73 years ago, in June 1936, she matched the German high jump record, but as a Jew, she was kicked off the German Olympic team and banned from the Olympic Games. Germany, which would not even allow her into the main stadium to practice, had let her tryout for the team merely as a ruse, using her as a pawn, in order to convince the American olympic committee that the Nazis would allow Jews to compete. She was replaced on the team by a shy athlete who years later was discovered to be a male. The Olympic gold medalist ended up being a Hungarian Jewish woman.
Maybe it was in response to a new film about her story, “Berlin 36,” which premiered last month, but in an symbolic act of belated justice, Germany’s track and field association restored her 1936 record this week.