Professor Kay Schiller: The Fastest Jew in Germany: Alex Nathan 1906-1971
Monday December 2nd 2019
It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History-sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Institute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects to pique the interest of the historically inclined.
For 2019-20 we’ve tweaked the format of the seminar to make it snappier! Papers will be 30-40 minutes long with the remaining part of the hour available for questions from the floor. We’ll also be starting later, at 6 o’clock, to make it easier for those who work regular hours to get along to the venue.
The third paper of the new academic year will be given by Professor Kay Schiller of Durham University, who will be talking about the career of Alex Nathan, ‘the fastest Jew in Germany’, who competed as an élite athlete between the wars. Here’s his abstract:-
This paper deals with the biography of the elite Jewish-German sprinter, sports writer and left-wing political activist Alex Natan, “the fastest Jew in Germany” (Alfred Flechtheim) during the 1920s. Hailing from an assimilated family of the Berlin Jewish-German middle class, Natan was for most of his active career a member of the ‘bürgerlich’ sport movement, running for SC Charlottenburg Berlin. He achieved his greatest athletic success as a member of the club’s world-record equalling 4×100-Meter relay squad in 1929. In addition to Natan’s athletic achievements, the paper pays particular attention to his career as a left-wing sports journalist; his participation in the anti-Nazi resistance of civil servants in the Reich Vice Chancellery in 1933/34; his emigration to Britain in 1933; his four-year internment during World War II; the resumption of his journalistic career in the post-war period; and his support for the 1972 Munich Olympics. By focusing on his confrontations with Carl Diem and Karl Ritter von Halt, the paper also engages with Natan’s vocal opposition to the rehabilitation after 1945 of sport functionaries who had collaborated with the Nazi regime.
Future speakers for the 2019-20 academic year are as follows:-
27th Jan 2020 Dr. Veronica Smith (University of York)
Sport, Masculinity and Class: Stained Glass at Victoria Baths, Manchester
24th Feb 2020 Dr. Liam O’Callaghan (Liverpool Hope University)
Protestants and Sport in Ireland: The case of Rugby Football, 1875-1925
23rd Mar 2020 Allister Webb (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Why History Matters in Contemporary Sporting Events: A Case Study of the Bidding Process for International Cricket in England and Wales
27th Apr 2020 Geoff Swallow (Manchester Metropolitan University)
The Man Who Wasn’t There: The Jarvis-Nuttal ‘Match’ of 1901 as a Space of Modernity
8th June 2020 Dr Clare Tebbutt (Trinity College, Dublin)
‘That Man-Woman Problem’: Grappling with Questions of Sex Differentiation in 1930s Women’s Sport, and their Resonance Today
This is only the one of a number of series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR across a range of disciplines. For up to date details of seminars forthcoming in 2019 go to the IHR’s website. The Sport & Leisure talks take place in the John S Cohen Room on the second floor – doors open from 17:45 and the seminar will start promptly at 18.00. The seminars are open to academics and the general public; I hope to see you there.
Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).