Ben Canales star gazing at Crater Lake:
Here on my first time visit to Crater Lake National Park, I wanted to leave with an image that I could look back on and remember the experience. I was with a friend taking pictures also, and before I took the picture, I called over to him and said, “Hey man, watch this!” With a laugh, I spread my arms out and fell backwards into the snow. A second later, the camera timer clicked the shutter and the long exposure began. After the shutter clicked back closed, I stayed on the ground for a good while staring up mesmerized by all the sparkling stars overhead.
Even though the above image frightens my heart at first sight (Naoto Tajima of Japan, Jesse Owens of the USA, Luz Long of Nazi Germany) the story behind the nr. 1 and the nr. 2 of the 1936 Olympic long jump finalists touches my heart very much.
Carl Ludwig Luz Long (far right) was a German sprinter and long-jumper who finished second to Jesse Owens in the Berlin Olympic Games of 1936.
Long was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1913.
By the time the great black American sprinter Jesse Owens arrived in Berlin in the summer of 1936, little worried him … except Long who was German and the reigning European long-jump champion.
But as Adolf Hitler and 100,000 spectators watched, Long went right up and shook the black American’s hand. He thus befriended the great American athlete and did not shy from reaching out even though his own government was promoting a white Aryan race policy which would soon slip into genocide.
Long helped Owens at the long-jump trials, when Owens was so spooked by European rules that he almost failed to qualify, even while Long posted an Olympic record, (soon to be smashed by Owens in the final). In the finals, Long finished second to Owens, and took home Olympic silver. When they stood on the podium to receive their medals, Long, standing behind Owens, and made the de rigeur Nazi salute.
Owens was delighted as he knew that Long was the German opposition and was not expecting such a charming friend. One night, Long found Owens in the Olympic Village and they had a long private talk, resulting in a long friendship.
Luz continued to compete in track meets achieving his personal best of 7.90 meters in the long jump in 1937.
Luz finished law school at the University of Leipzig and briefly practiced in Hamburg. But inevitably, when the war turned against Germany, all healthy men were drafted and he became a Nazi soldier. He wrote Owens a final letter in 1942, just after the United States declared war on Germany:“My heart is telling me that this is perhaps the last letter of my life. If that is so, I beg one thing from you. When the war is over, please go to Germany, find my son and tell him about his father. Tell him about the times when war did not separate us and tell him that things can be different between men in this world.
“Your brother, Luz.”
Luz Long was injured on July 10, 1943 when the Allies invaded Sicily. In a British field hospital, he died on July 13, 1943. He was only 30 and was buried in the war cemetery of Motta Sant’Anastasia, in Sicily.
In 1951, Jesse Owens kept his promise and found Long’s son in war-torn German. He later said that what he valued the most from Olympic experience had been his friendship with Luz Long.