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Carl Diem
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Carl Diem

Dr. Carl Diem (born June 24, 1882 in Würzburg - died December 17, 1962 in Cologne) was the originator of the modern tradition of the Olympic torch relay.

The Olympic torch is not a tradition dating to ancient Greece. The relay was invented by Carl Diem, a German who had been planning the 1916 Olympic Games at Berlin when they were canceled because of World War I.

The long-distance torch relay became tradition with the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Twenty years later, Diem returned, organizing the 1936 summer games under Hitler. Seeking to glamorize the games with an ancient aura, Diem staged the first lighting of the Olympic flame. When the torches were lit at Berlin, ostensibly to signify unity among nations, they carried the logo of the manufacturer, Krupp, the huge munitions company that armed Germany for two world wars. It remains unclear whether Diem had Nazi sympathies.

The torch relay from Greece to the host country of the Olympic games has been continued at every Olympiad since 1952.

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