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Helene Mayer, Fencing Champ, Says She’ll Try for Olympics

April 11, 1934
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Helene Mayer, a tall, slim, blue-eyed blonde fraulein, is in the city to compete in the national women’s fencing tournament tonight. Discussing her plans at the Fencer’s club yesterday afternoon she said that she will try out for the next German Olympic team despite the fact that she is Jewish and “non-Aryan.”

This charming young fraulein who has amazed Europe for the last ten years with her skill and finesse in fencing competition was “kicked out” of the Offenbach Fencer’s club in Germany, thereby precipitating a furore in international competition.

She cannot compete for any other nation but Germany inasmuch as she has already represented her native country at the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928 and at Los Angeles in 1932. The Olympic ruling prohibits her performing on the strips of another nation because of her previous registration. However the love of fencing is so strong with her that she would like to compete once again in Olympic tournaments.

Fraulein Mayer, very serious for the moment said, “I have been assured that I shall be permitted to try out for the team. The pledge made at Vienna that Jewish athletes would not be discriminated against, I have been told, will be adhered to.”


However, this Jewish girl of twenty-four has had her career smashed in another field beside that of sports. Miss Mayer had studied in France and Germany for three years in preparation for entering the law profession. She is now at Scripps College, Claremont, California on a scholarship, where she will get an A.B. degree in June. Because of the sentiment against women in the professions in Germany, especially a “non-Aryan,” she has been forced to give up her law studies. She has decided to continue her scholastic work in the field of comparative literature, which, she says, “is fascinating in its scope.” She is particularly adept in languages.

The Olympic champion’s father, the late Doctor Ludwig Mayer, who was Jewish, had been a member of the Offenbach Fencing club. The doctor died three years ago but in all probability he would have been discharged from this club, as his daughter was.

Laughingly Miss Mayer referred to what she termed the “little ironies of life.” She has in her trophy case at home a framed letter from the Offenbach club congratulating her on winning the championship at the Amsterdam Olympics. The letter also states how proud the officers of the club are in having her as a member. This letter placed side by side with the epistie she received when Hitler came to the front would be rather incongruous. For the second note, she said, “told me in plain language that I had been-kicked out of the club.”


Though she may be handicapped by racial prejudices in Germany, she is having a “grand time” at Scripps College. She has started her own fencing club there and claims that the girls are almost as good as she is.

“Oh yes,” she said, “last summer I and another girl bought a car for seventy dollars. It’s a 1929 Plymouth sedan but it runs. We call it ‘Asthma.’ Every girl in the school has used it at some time and we often take trips out in the California woods. It is really beautiful there.”

She has already won the women’s title in California and is representing the Los Angeles Athletic Club in the tournament here.

However, she says, “I shall have to wait until 1936 to say anything definite about my future athletic relations and my future career. Next year I hope to get a scholarship either at some Western university or at some school here in the East.”

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