‘Tell him how things can be between men on this earth’: Jesse Owens’ Unlikely Friendship


“The sight of the swish American’s hovering victory within the lengthy soar and his Olympic-record wins within the 100-and 200-meter dashes and 400-meter relay put the deceive der Führer’s simplistic myths about race,” TIME famous in 1980. Jesse Owens’ triumphant exhibiting on the 1936 Berlin Olympics famously put a stake by way of the supposed claims of Aryan “racial superiority.”

However regardless of Owen’s record-breaking success each on and off the sector, his achievements weren’t extensively lauded by the American public on the time. “Hitler didn’t snub me; it was our president [FDR] who snubbed me,” the 23-year-old Owens advised a crowd upon his return to the States. “The president didn’t even ship a telegram.”

But on August 3, 1936, an unlikely friendship started to develop between the German-born observe star Carl Ludwig “Luz” Lengthy and Owens. And whereas delusion shrouds the story of whether or not Lengthy gave Owens essential recommendation earlier than his third and remaining alternative to qualify for the lengthy soar finals, cameras captured the budding friendship as Lengthy strode over to Owens and embraced him.

“It took a number of braveness for him to befriend me in entrance of Hitler,” Owens later stated in an interview. “You’ll be able to soften down all of the medals and cups I’ve and so they wouldn’t be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Lutz Lengthy at that second. Hitler should have gone loopy watching us embrace.”

After besting Lengthy and taking house gold within the lengthy soar, Owens was famously photographed saluting the American flag. Lengthy stood behind him, providing the Nazi salute.


Jesse Owens and Luz Lengthy, 1936. (Getty Photographs)

The 2 remained mates, preserving involved as a lot of world plunged into battle. Lengthy was stationed with the German Military in North Africa earlier than being killed in motion on July 14, 1943, in the course of the Allied invasion of Sicily. In his final letter to Owens, Lengthy, seemingly conscious of his impending destiny wrote, “My coronary heart tells me, if I be trustworthy with you, that that is the final letter I shall ever write. If it’s so, I ask you one thing. It’s a one thing so crucial to me. It’s you go to Germany when this battle finished, sometime discover my Karl [Kai], and inform him about his father. Inform him, Jesse, what instances have been like after we not separated by battle. I’m saying—inform him how issues will be between males on this earth.”

In 1951 Owens traveled to Germany to fulfill Lengthy’s then 10-year-old son, Kai, fulfilling his promise to certainly inform the younger boy how issues may very well be. Owens ultimately served as greatest man at Kai’s wedding ceremony, and the 2 households stay involved to at the present time.

Learn the total letter beneath:

I’m right here, Jesse, the place it appears there may be solely the dry sand and the moist blood. I don’t worry a lot for myself, my pal Jesse, I worry for my girl who’s house, and my younger son Karl, who has by no means actually recognized his father.⁣



My coronary heart tells me, if I be trustworthy with you, that that is the final letter I shall ever write. If it’s so, I ask you one thing. It’s a one thing so crucial to me. It’s you go to Germany when this battle finished, sometime discover my Karl, and inform him about his father. Inform him, Jesse, what instances have been like after we not separated by battle. I’m saying—inform him how issues will be between males on this earth.⁣



Should you do that one thing for me, this factor that I would like probably the most to know will probably be finished, I do one thing for you, now. I inform you one thing I do know you need to hear. And it’s true.⁣



That hour in Berlin once I first spoke to you, while you had your knee upon the bottom, I knew that you simply have been in prayer.⁣



Then I not know the way I do know. Now I do. I do know it’s by no means by probability that we come collectively. I come to you that hour in 1936 for function greater than der Berliner Olympiade.⁣



And also you, I consider, will learn this letter, whereas it shouldn’t be doable to achieve you ever, for function extra even than our friendship.⁣



I consider this shall come about as a result of I believe now that God will make it come about. That is what I’ve to inform you, Jesse.⁣



I believe I would consider in God.⁣

And I pray to him that, even whereas it shouldn’t be doable for this to achieve you ever, these phrases I write will nonetheless be learn by you.⁣



Your brother,⁣

Luz

Share:

Leave a Reply

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings