A documentary about a Jewish athlete who was used by the Nazi propaganda machine to get the world to come to the 1936 Berlin Olympic games, "Hitler's Pawn: The Margaret Lambert Story" is another example of the persecution of the Jewish people and the blind folds the rest of the world had because of the Nazi's. This movie is good but does not have the same bite that other Nazi documentaries show.
Margaret Lambert was a Jewish athlete who excelled in track and field, especially the high jump, who was a German Olympic hopeful in 1931. In 1933, Adolf Hitler came to power and the persecution of the Jews began. Lambert was kicked out of her sports organization and was not allowed to compete at all. By 1935, her father had shipped her to England with the hope of her becoming a member of the England Track and Field team, and to also get her away from the Nazi's.
Hitler and the other Nazi's in the high command were trying to secure the Olympics that had been given to the Weimer Republic in 1931. Under some international scrutiny, the Nazi propaganda machine was forced to show that Jews would be apart of the German team. The Nazi's forced Lambert's father to go to England and bring her back to Germany with the aspiration of becoming a competitor for the German Olympic team. When she came back and without telling her, the Nazi's gave her name to the American press and others, to show that Lambert, a Jew, and other Jewish athletes would be competing on the German team. Because of this and other similar events, the American's decided to go to Berlin and compete in the Olympics. After the American's left for Germany, Lambert and most of the other Jewish Athlete's were told that they were not chosen to participate in the games. One woman was chosen because she was only half Jewish but was a Christian.
The documentary is good in that it shows yet another example of what happened to the Jews under Nazi Germany before the war. Lambert was clearly the best high jumper in Germany, and her personal best jump was the same as the gold medalist's jump at the Berlin Olympics. Lambert was fortunate that these things happened to her in the mid-30's because she left Germany shortly after the Olympics and came to America. After a few years in America she read the newspaper articles about her being on the team and realized what had been done. Her father was sent to a concentration camp a few years later and after 4 months was told to leave Germany or be killed, so he left and came to America.
Obviously this documentary had a happy ending in that she was in America at the time of the war so she did not have to go through the horrors of the death camps. Because of this, the movie does not have the same feeling of despair and sadness that many other documentaries have about this subject. I am sure that Margaret Lambert is quite happy that she did not have to endure what many other people did. It was unfortunate that she was used this way, but if she wasn't, she and some of her family may have been added to the millions who were killed.
As far as documentaries go, this may be a great movie to show to some children who may be able to start to understand what hate and anger can do to people, yet are unable to comprehend what happened at the death camps. This movie will teach another valuable lesson without scarring them to death. That can come later when they are older and they can see what happened at the camps. For adults, this documentary is educational but does not give you that feeling of dread that many other movies do.
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