Did Hitler Really Snub Jesse Owens at 1936 Berlin Olympics?

The track superstar was reportedly more concerned with his treatment in the U.S. than with Hitler.

Posted: 08/03/2013 10:00 AM EDT

On Aug. 3, 1936, Jesse Owens launched his way into sports stardom at the Summer Olympics in Berlin, where he racked up his first of four gold medals in the 100 meter sprint.

As legend goes, German leader Adolf Hitler snubbed the African-American athlete for humiliating Germany and the Aryan athletes whom he had defeated on the track. However, some have claimed to debunk this supposed myth.

Veteran sports reporter Siegfried Mischner told the Daily Mail that Owens had a photograph of the Nazi leader shaking his hand at the sports event.

"It was taken behind the honor stand and so not captured by the world's press,” said Mischner. "But I saw it, I saw him shaking Hitler's hand."

With Owens deceased, as well as the few other reporters who witnessed the moment, Mischner decided to step forward and "set the record straight" in 2009.

He alleged that due to "predominating opinion" in post-war Germany regarding Hitler’s believed disdain for Owens, neither he nor his fellow reporters had wanted "to be the one to make Hitler the monster look good." As a result, the image went unpublished.

This photograph has yet to surface, and Owens — who died in 1980 — has never confirmed this story. Yet, upon returning from the Olympic Games, he had made it clear that the treatment he received in his home country spoke volumes more than Hitler’s reception.

"When I came back to my native country, after all the stories about Hitler, I couldn't ride in the front of the bus," Owens told ESPN. "I had to go to the back door. I couldn't live where I wanted. I wasn't invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I wasn't invited to the White House to shake hands with the president, either."

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(Photo: AP)

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