New museum exhibit showcases ‘The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936’

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SKOKIE, Ill. -- Growing up, Marlene Owens Rankin knew little of her father's most famous feat.

"It always surprises people to know that he did not talk about it," she said. "It was not something we had dinner time conversation over. It wasn't that he was hiding it, just that he had moved on."

While Jesse Owens moved on, 80 years later, his four gold medals in the face of Hitler's Aryan Supremacy remains an indelible Olympic memory.

The full scope of the '36 Games is on display at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, with 'The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936' opening Sunday afternoon.

"It's impressive, very impressive," Owens Rankin said. "So full of information and history and facts of what was transpiring in those years in the 30s. It's a fascinating exhibit."

Owens Rankin, who moved to Chicago when she was 10 and lives in Hyde Park, helped moderate a conversation about the games and her father's role in history.

"There`s always something to learn," she said.

Like how she was surprised to find out the Nazi Olympics introduced the spectacle and pageantry now a staple of the modern Games, including carrying of the Olympic torch and the grandeur of the Opening Ceremonies.

The exhibit explores all of the ugly truths behind the games, ones sometimes difficult to digest, but Owens Rankin is proud the place she calls home is highlighting the complete story.

"To have something like this in hometown is of utmost importance. We hope a lot of people come to see the exhibit because there`s so much to learn from it." she said.

More information: www.ilholocaustmuseum.org

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