The strange story of Dora Rathjen-Hitler's favorite athlete and ... manPictolic
Nowadays, in big sports, sometimes there are questions to athletes who are suspected of being men. Modern scientists are well aware that primary and sometimes secondary sexual characteristics do not always accurately determine gender. But at the beginning of the 20th century, no one went into such details, so Dora Rathjen-a German track and field athlete and the favorite of the Fuhrer, being intersex, as close as possible to a man, set world records as a woman.
German Dora Rathjen left a serious mark on world sports in the first half of the last century. In 1936, at the Olympic Games in Germany, she finished fourth in the high jump, and in 1938 set a world record. Dora became an example for all the German people and Adolf Hitler called her his favorite athlete.
The Fuhrer repeatedly cited Dora Rathjen as an example of the true representative of the Aryan race and liked to rant about it, proving the superiority of German women over all others. Hitler was waiting for an incredible embarrassment when it turned out that Dora was not a woman at all, but a guy named Heinrich. But all in order.
Dora Rathjen was born in 1918 in the German city of Bremen in a very poor family. It is known that at birth, doctors were unable to determine the sex of the child, but parents were advised to raise the baby as a girl. Dora's father, Heinrich Rathjen, recalled that the midwife first congratulated him on the birth of his son, but after five minutes apologized and said that he had become the father of the girl.
Looking at the child's genitals, it was difficult to come to an unambiguous decision and the parents had doubts. But then they decided to trust the experience of doctors and still named the child Dora and began to raise as a girl. The child was dressed in dresses and skirts, and when the time came, they were sent to a girls ' school.
In high school, Dora, torn by doubts and contradictions, found an outlet in sports and began to seriously engage in athletics. She easily defeated her peers and even older girls in running and jumping, as she was physically stronger than them and had amazing agility.
By the age of 16, in 1934, Rathjen had won the Lower Saxony High Jump Championship and thus attracted the attention of the coaches who selected athletes for the Olympic Games. In 1935, it became quite clear that the best candidate for the women's national team could not be found and Dora began to prepare for the Olympic debut.
Opening of the Olympic Games-36 in Berlin
If Rathjen was doing just fine in sports, then Dora's personal life was like a nightmare. Among the boys, a girl with a rough voice and unladylike features caused only ridicule, and on the street passers-by stopped to look at her. After puberty, hair began to grow on the face and legs of the athlete and it took a lot of time and effort to fight them.
In those days, sports brought very little money and Dora was forced to get a job in a tobacco factory, combining work and grueling training. In 1936, just before the Olympics, Rathjen was called to the training camp in Berlin, where she met two other athletes-Gretel Bergmann and Elfriede Kaun. The girls were older than Dora and they already had serious sporting achievements, including at international competitions.
Bergmann, a Jewish woman, was considered the favorite of the team. But no one knew that, according to the Nazi propagandists, she was just a cunning bait. Her task was to show the American team that in Germany they are loyal to Jews and even allow them to compete at the Olympics. On the day that the athletes from the United States left for Berlin, Gretel Bergmann was informed that she was excluded from the team.
Gretel was lucky — in 1937, she emigrated to the United States and escaped the horrors of the Holocaust. Many years later, she told the press how she lived in the same hotel room with Rathjen during the preparation for the Olympics.
But when Dora came back from We returned to our homeland, there was a disaster. The conductor showed commendable vigilance and drew attention to a strange, ungainly girl with rough features, who was traveling in a separate compartment. He watched as the passenger secretly shaves and gets into the car. Magdeburge reported his observations to the police.
Representatives of the authorities came to Ratien and demanded to show their documents. Dora's passport was in good order, but her appearance was so suspicious that Rathjen was detained. The police officer was confused by Fraulein's large hands, coarse hair, and hoarse voice.
When Dora was taken to the police station, she told the police that she was officially recognized as a woman, but physiologically closer to a man and always wanted to be a guy. The Magdeburg police did not have to deal with this, so a doctor was invited to examine the detainee.
Dora Ratien even returned her sports awards, ruling that they were obtained by honest work. But the athlete was not enough of an excuse — Ratien had nothing more to hide and she wanted to become what she had always been-a man. In 1939, Dora applied to the Bremen police for a change of documents and expressed a desire to become Heinrich.
Dora's wish was fully gratified, and so Henry Rathjen appeared. Because of his physiological characteristics, the newly minted citizen of the Reich was unfit for service in the army, and therefore the bloody meat grinder of the Second World War bypassed the former Olympic champion.
There is very little information about the later life of Heinrich Ratien. It is known that he lived all his life in his native Bremen, where he kept a pub that he inherited from his father. He never had a family, and he avoided talking to journalists. Therefore, no one knows how the man who was once the Fuhrer's favorite track and field athlete lived the rest of his life. It is only known that the fate of Henry measured 90 years and he died in his bed of old age in 2008.