Cover image for Foiled : Hitler's Jewish Olympian : the Helene Mayer story
Foiled : Hitler's Jewish Olympian : the Helene Mayer story
Mogulof, Milly.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oakland, CA : RDR Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
253 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV697.M39 M64 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Arguably history's most famous woman fencer, named as one of the top 100 athletes of the century by Sports Illustrated, Helene Mayer won the gold for Germany in the 1928 Berlin Olympics. Eight years later, with America poised to boycott the 1936 Berlin Olympics over anti-Semitism, the Nazis brought Mayer home from self-imposed exile in California to be the token Jew on their team. This marvelous book is the story of a beautiful and talented young woman who tries to win back her citizenship by fencing for the Third Reich. The thought-provoking saga of the central figure in the 20th century's most dramatic sports controversy.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Mogulof competently documents the rise and fall of one of the greatest fencers of all time. Helene Mayer (1911-1953) was a three-time world champion and won a gold medal for Germany at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. Born in Offenbach to a Christian mother and a Jewish father, Mayer was encouraged by her parents to fence competitively. Her success at the sport combined with her startlingly attractive appearance (she was a tall, blue-eyed blonde) to turn the young champion, nicknamed "the Golden He," into a German heroine. Mogulof explains that although Helene left her home in 1932 to study in California, the German government terminated her fellowship after Hitler's rise to power and she was expelled from the Offenbach fencing club because of her Jewish father. Friends helped her secure a teaching position in the U.S. A complex series of diplomatic maneuvers resulted in an invitation from the German government to compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where she gave the "Heil Hitler" salute after winning the silver medal. According to Mogulof, Helene defended Germany upon her return to California and did not speak out against the extermination of Jews until after the war. Though Mogulof's writing is clear, her subject comes off as self-absorbed and nonreflective. It is never fully explained, for instance, whether Helene's reticence came from a lack of Jewish identity or concern for family members in Germany. Mayer eventually became a U.S. citizen but returned in 1952 to Germany, where she married an engineer shortly before she died of cancer. B&w illus. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved