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95-yr Old Athlete Has "Nazi" Records Restored


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  • 95-yr Old Athlete Has "Nazi" Records Restored

    ISHPES SportHist Listserv

    Gal, 95, beats Nazis, has 1936 record restored

    Comments: 9

    1936 record restored


    Last Updated: 9:54 AM, November 24, 2009

    Posted: 2:31 AM, November 24, 2009

    At age 95, she's never soared higher.

    A former high jumper now living in Queens finally saw her German national record restored yesterday -- 73 years after the Nazis disallowed it because she's Jewish.

    "I'm very happy they finally did what they did -- I was a damned good high jumper," Margaret Bergmann Lambert said from the Jamaica Estates home she shares with her 99-year-old husband, Bruno

    Lambert, who competed under the name of Gretel Bergmann, set the German high-jump mark of 5 feet, 3 inches on June 30, 1936

    At the time, she was nominally a member of the German Olympic team, which was about to host the Berlin Games.

    But in truth, she was being used as a political pawn by Adolf Hitler.

    The German government discovered Bergmann's talent after she won the 1934 British high-jump championships while attending school in England.

    The Nazis forced her to return to Germany by threatening to harm her family if she didn't join the Olympic squad.

    "I didn't know if they would kill me. I didn't know what they would do," she said.

    But Lambert knew that she would never be allowed to compete in the Olympics.

    At the time, the Germans were putting Jews on their teams to appease Americans who were threatening a boycott. The Nazi government pulled her off the squad at the last minute.

    "They waited until the Americans were on the boat, on the way," she said.

    "Nobody realized that these people had everything planned out."

    Teammates got a letter claiming she was injured.

    After the Games, she fled to the United States with just $4 in her pocket.

    "Nobody dared pack anything else," she said.

    She changed her name and settled down with her husband. They've been married 71 years and have two children.

    As for finally being recognized as the German record holder, Lambert said, "It took a hell of a long time for them to do it, but I'm not going to do cartwheels over it -- and I couldn't now.

    "I used to hate everything German," she acknowledged. "But I've made up my mind to not hold it against the next generations."

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