A Jewish 2010 Olympic torchbearer who swam for Canada in the 1972 Munich Olympics is “disturbed” by Vanoc’s inclusion of footage from Adolf Hitler’s favourite propagandist in a promotional video.
Today (February 3), Vanoc removed the film from its Web site. This afternoon, Karen James had spoken out against Vanoc’s use of the Leni Riefenstahl footage, and demanded that it be removed.
(The Straight broke the story of Vanoc's video including Riefenstahl's footage on Straight.com a week ago; the story was subsequently covered by the National Post and the Globe and Mail.)
“The torchbearers, when they are being bussed to their spot where they are going to run from, they show a film on the origins of this torch relay,” James, 57, told reporters at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. “They actually show a clip, apparently, from Leni Riefenstahl’s film [Olympia] on the 1936 [Berlin] Olympics, blacking out some of the symbols....So I called the office for the torchbearers and made a point about asking that that film be removed. I am not sure if it will, but it is quite offensive.”
The Straight previously reported that, about 25 seconds into the video Lights Will Guide You Home, a runner holding the torch enters a huge sports stadium. The footage came from Riefenstahl’s movie shot during the 1936 Olympics, which helped cement Hitler’s rule over Germany.
“To bring that back and to use the film from the ’36 Olympics is incredibly offensive,” James told the Straight shortly after the press conference. “Someone just wasn’t thinking when they put that in there. They couldn’t have been thinking and thinking how offensive it is. I know the history and what it’s about.”
James said she will be one of the last bearers to hoist the torch before it is taken to the opening ceremony.
She said she would not boycott her segment if Riefenstahl’s clip is not removed, but added, “I’m counting on them removing it.”
Vanoc’s media relations department did not respond today to a message from the Straight.