Jesse Owens

Nazi Urban Myths and Misconceptions

Nazi Germany

 Throughout History there have been facts, lies, areas of confusion and lots and lots of Urban Myths. This post runs through some of the myths that I’ve come across that relate to Weimar or Nazi Germany.


  1. Hitler invented the Autobahn (Motorway).

Neither Hitler, nor his regime were responsible for the first Autobahn (Motorway). Whilst it is true that the Nazi regime extended the building program, it had begun in the Weimar period. The first stretch of Autobahn, connecting Cologne and Bonn, was started in the late 1920’s and opened in 1932.

  • Hitler snubbed Jesse Owens.

Afraid not. On the first day of the Munich Olympics, Hitler DID choose not to meet a black Gold Medal winner. That Olympian was not Jesse Owens. Olympic officials reminded Hitler that he was to meet all, or no, gold medallists when this happened. He opted to meet none. Owens won his first medal after this decision had been made. Owens himself actually stated later in life that it was not Hitler who snubbed him but his own President (FD Roosevelt).

Jesse Owens

  • The Nazi’s went to Egypt in search of the Ark of the Covenant.

Sorry but the Indiana Jones film is kinda made up…

  • The Nazi leadership believed that the Earth was hollow.

Actually there is some evidence to suggest that some leading members of the Nazi Party did believe this.

  • Prior to the war, the economy was doing well under the Nazi’s.

This really depends on your definition of ‘doing well’. High Employment and Public Works projects were impressive but hardly sustainable in the longer term. The Nazi’s had sold of a large proportion of their reserves, borrowed a huge amount of money and focussed on specific industries at the expense of others.

  • The Nazi’s achieved Autarky (self-sufficiency).

They may have tried to get there but they were always dependent on imports.

  • Hitler was an atheist.

Oh no he wasn’t.

“We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.”

Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Berlin on 24 Oct. 1933

  • In 1939 the Polish launched Cavalry charges against Panzer Divisions.

The Polish Cavalry were actually what we would call Dragoons. They used horses, as did the Germans, but they were trained to fight on foot. There is no record of an order for a Cavalry charge having ever been made. What is quite probably true is that Polish forces used horses when trying to escape encirclement. It is quite likely that contact with Panzers would have been made in such an escape attempt.

  • King Christian of Denmark thwarted Nazi attempts to persecute the Jews by wearing a Yellow Star himself. 

Jews in Denmark were never ordered to wear a Yellow Star. The relatively small Jewish population of Denmark WAS widely supported by the Danes though. An accurate account of what did happen can be found here.

  • The Nazi’s banned the original film ‘Titanic’. 

Yes and No. The original film entitled ‘Titanic’ was actually made BY the Nazi regime. Goebbels commissioned such a film to highlight the weakness of british and American capitalism. However he was not impressed by the final version of the film and banned it from being shown in Germany: though it was shown in occupied countries. Some scenes from the Nazi version of the film titanic were later used in the classic ‘A Night to Remember’ film which was released in 1958.


  • “@Historylecturer: The big myth is that the Nazis were efficient. 1000 yr Reich lasted 12 years #epicfail #sschat #historyteacher”

    • “@Historylecturer: The other huge myth is “Why did the Germans vote Nazi?” when over 60% never did. #historyteacher #sschat”

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