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Jewish Woman Kicked Off Nazi Olympic Team Gets Record Back

A 95-year-old New York woman, who was kicked off of Germany's Olympic team in 1936 because she was Jewish, now has vindication. Her name has been restored to the record books.

Margaret Bergmann-Lambert qualified for the Berlin Olympics by matching Germany's high-jump record of five feet-three inches. She had been on the track-and-field team for two years, but she was banned from competing in the Games and replaced with a man in drag.

"I had so much fury, Lambert told the New York Daily News. "I was a person non-existing because I was a Jew."

Adding to the insult was the athlete who the Nazis selected to replace her: a jumper named Dora Ratjen -- who was later revealed to be a man whose real name was Horst Rajen. Ratjen was kicked off the team in 1938 when a doctor took a look at his genitals.

Lambert escaped Nazi Germany in 1937 and settled in New York City. She continued her athletic career, becoming an American champion in high jump in 1937 and 1938 and shot put in 1937. She decided to give it up when war broke out in 1939.

The German track and field association has recognized Lambert's accomplishments over the years, but this is the first time her name has been restored to the record books. While the honor "can in no way make up" for the past, it serves as an "act of justice and a symbolic gesture," the committee said.

As for Lambert, she said the honor "doesn't bother me one way or another. If it would never of happened I wouldn't have killed myself either."

Although Lambert does admit it took a while for the bitterness to wear off. "To tell the truth, I used to sit there and curse my head off when the Olympics were going on," she said. "Now I don't do that anymore. I've mellowed quite a bit."

Nowadays, Lambert spends most of her days at home with her 99-year-old husband, whom she met shortly after arriving in New York. They've been married for 71 years.


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