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John Simkin

The Strange Case of Helen Stephens

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In the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles Stanislawa Walasiewicz won the 100m in 11.9.

In 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Walasiewicz could only finish second to Helen Stephens from the United States. Stephens, who had been unbeaten in all her races at 100m, broke the world record in the time of 11.5. After the race Walasiewicz told a Polish journalist that she suspected that Stephens was really a man. When this news was published German officials arranged for Stephens to undergo a medical examination. They then announced that Helen Stephens was definitely a woman.

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After winning the 100m final Helen Stephens was introduced to Adolf Hitler in his private box. Later she recalled what happened:

“Hitler comes in and gives me the Nazi salute. I gave him a good old Missouri handshake. Immediately Hitler goes for the jugular vein. He gets ahold of my fanny, and he begins to squeeze and pinch and hug me up, and he said, ‘You’re a true Aryan type. You should be running for Germany’. So after he gave me the once-over and a full massage, he asked me if I’d like to spend the weekend in Berchtesgaden.”

Helen retired undefeated on the running track. During the Second World War she served as a United States Marine.

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Stanislawa Walasiewicz continued her career and went on to set 11 world records. After her retirement she moved to the United States and changed her name to Stella Walsh.

On 4th December, 1980, Stella Walsh, went to a store in Cleveland to buy ribbons for a reception for the Polish national basket team. While she was there she was shot dead during a robbery attempt. During the autopsy doctors discovered that Stella was a man.

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After winning the 100m final Helen Stephens was introduced to Adolf Hitler in his private box. Later she recalled what happened:

“Hitler comes in and gives me the Nazi salute. I gave him a good old Missouri handshake. Immediately Hitler goes for the jugular vein. He gets ahold of my fanny, and he begins to squeeze and pinch and hug me up, and he said, ‘You’re a true Aryan type. You should be running for Germany’. So after he gave me the once-over and a full massage, he asked me if I’d like to spend the weekend in Berchtesgaden.”

Helen retired undefeated on the running track. During the Second World War she served as a United States Marine.

I have been working on the the Berlin Olympics in the last few days. I am particularly interested in the documentary/propaganda contribution of Leni Riefenstahl.

In response to John's post, I have a video on my site that includes an interview with Helen Stephens about this infamous proposal from Hitler. It also includes some useful archive footage.

helenstephens.jpg

Video 10mb

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