Games Participations1
First Olympic GamesBerlin 1936
Year of Birth1918


"Dora" Ratjen competed at the 1936 Olympic Games, placing fourth. In 1938, the athlete also competed at the European Championships, winning a gold medal with a world record jump of 1.67 [5-5¾]. Ratjen was eventually outed as a man, Heinrich "Heinz" Ratjen, who had disguised himself as a woman while competing in athletics events. The rumor has been for years that Ratjen later spoke out, stating that the Nazis forced him to do this in order to help win more medals for Germany at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. But more recent evidence suggests that Ratjen's gender was mixed from birth, and his parents raised him as a girl, although he had hermaphroditic sexual characteristics. He was outed in September 1938 after the European Championships, on the train back to Köln (Cologne). A criminal investigation ensued, but no fraud was charged and the case was soon dropped.

In January 1939 his father wrote to the registry officer, requesting an official change of sex and name, to Heinrich, on all official documents. Very little is known of his later life. It was originally written in a Time magazine article that he worked for a time as a waiter in Hamburg and Bremen, and in that article his name was listed as Hermann, which was copied for many years. However, it appears he returned to his native Bremen, where he ran his parent's bar. His appearance in the Berlin Olympics and the exclusion of his teammate, the Jewish Gretel Bergmann, was the subject of the German movie Berlin '36 released in September 2009. Bergmann, when interviewed in 2009, still insisted that a Nazi plan to disguise Ratjen as a man to compete at the 1936 Olympics, in her stead, did exist.

Personal Best: HJ – 1.70 (1938).

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