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Helene Mayer

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Title: Helene Mayer  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Fencing at the 1928 Summer Olympics – Women's foil, 1936 Summer Olympics, World Fencing Championships, Ellen Preis, Ilona Elek
Collection: 1910 Births, 1953 Deaths, Deaths from Breast Cancer, Fencers at the 1928 Summer Olympics, Fencers at the 1932 Summer Olympics, Fencers at the 1936 Summer Olympics, German Emigrants to the United States, German Female Fencers, German Fencers, German People of Jewish Descent, German Roman Catholics, Jewish Fencers, Medalists at the 1928 Summer Olympics, Medalists at the 1936 Summer Olympics, Olympic Fencers of Germany, Olympic Gold Medalists for Germany, Olympic Medalists in Fencing, Olympic Silver Medalists for Germany, People from Offenbach Am Main, Place of Birth Missing, University of Southern California Alumni, Usc Trojans Athletes, Women Fencers
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Helene Mayer

Olympic medal record
Women's Fencing
1928 Amsterdam Individual foil
1936 Berlin Individual foil

Helene Mayer (December 20, 1910 – October 15, 1953) was a world champion Olympic fencer who competed for Nazi Germany in the 1936 Summer Olympics, despite having been forced to leave Germany and resettle in the United States because she was of partial Jewish family background.

Mayer was born in Offenbach am Main, the daughter of Ida (née Becker) and Ludwig Mayer, a physician. Her father was Jewish and her mother was Lutheran.[1] She was Jewish, according to the book Jews and the Olympic Games,[2] and was born in Offenbach am Main. According to an article in the Daily Herald, entitled "In Helene Mayer, a Jewish athlete who competed for Germany in 1936, an Olympic mystery remains", "Most accounts of Mayer's life say she did not consider herself Jewish".[3]


  • Fencing career 1
    • German Championships 1.1
    • Olympics 1.2
    • International competitions 1.3
    • US Championships 1.4
  • Return to Germany and death 2
  • Hall of Fame 3
  • Accomplishments 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Fencing career

West German stamp from 1968 of Mayer

Mayer was named one of the top 100 female athletes of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated.[4]

German Championships

Mayer was only 13 when she won the German women's foil championship in 1924. By 1930, she had won 6 German championships.


Mayer won a gold medal in fencing at the age of 17 at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, representing Germany, winning 18 bouts and losing only 2.

She finished 5th at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games. She then remained in the U.S. in 1933 to study at the University of Southern California, earned a certificate in Social Work, and fenced for the USC Fencing Club.

Mayer left Germany in 1933, as her father was Jewish. She accepted an invitation to compete for Germany at the 1936 Summer Olympics, held in Berlin, and was one of several Jewish athletes to win medals that year.[5]

International competitions

In 1928 she won the Italian national championship.

She was the European champion in 1929 and 1931.

She was World Foil Champion in 1929–31 and 1937.

US Championships

Ultimately, she settled in the United States and had a successful fencing career, winning the US women's foil championship 8 times from 1934–46 (1934, '35, '37, '38, '39, '41, '42, and '46).[6]

Return to Germany and death

In 1952, Mayer returned to Germany, where she married and settled in Munich. Shortly after, she died of breast cancer, two months before her 43rd birthday.

Hall of Fame

She was inducted into the USFA Hall of Fame in 1963.[7]


  • 1924: German Foil Champion
  • 1925: German Foil Champion
  • 1926: German Foil Champion
  • 1927: German Foil Champion
  • 1928: German Foil Champion
    • Olympic Gold Medal, Foil, German Team
    • Winner Foil, Italian National Championships
  • 1929: German Foil Champion
    • World Foil Champion
  • 1930: German Foil Champion
  • 1931: World Foil Champion
  • 1932: German Olympic Foil Team
  • 1934: U.S. Foil Champion
  • 1935: U.S. Foil Champion
  • 1936: Olympic Silver Medal, Foil, German Team
  • 1937: U.S. Foil Champion
    • World Foil Champion
  • 1938: U.S. Foil Champion
  • 1939: U.S. Foil Champion
  • 1941: U.S. Foil Champion
  • 1942: U.S. Foil Champion
  • 1946: U.S. Foil Champion

See also


  1. ^ Anne Commire. Women in World History. Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  2. ^ Paul Taylor (January 1, 2004). Jews and the Olympic Games: The Clash Between Sport and Politics : with a ... Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  3. ^ "In Helene Mayer, a Jewish athlete who competed for Germany in 1936, an Olympic mystery remains". Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  4. ^ Farrar, Doug. "Breaking news". Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  5. ^ "The Nazi Olympics (Berlin 1936)—Jewish Athletes; Olympic Medalists".  
  6. ^ [3]
  7. ^ [4]

External links

  • Jews in Sports bio
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