Otto Peltzer

Last updated

Otto Peltzer
Bundesarchiv Bild 102-05769, Otto Peltzer.jpg
Peltzer in 1928
Personal information
Born8 March 1900
Drage, Steinburg, Germany
Died11 August 1970 (aged 70)
Eutin, Germany
Event(s)200–1500 m, hurdles
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)200 m – 22.1 (1925)
400 m – 48.8 (1925)
800 m – 1:50.9 (1926)
1500 m – 3:51.0 (1926)
400 mH – 54.8 (1927) [1] [2]

Otto Paul Eberhard Peltzer (8 March 1900 – 11 August 1970) was a German middle distance runner who set world records in the 1920s. Over the 800 m Peltzer improved Ted Meredith's long-standing record by 0.3 seconds to 1:51.6 min in London in July 1926. Over the 1000 m he set a world record of 2:25.8 in Paris in July 1927, and over 1500 m Peltzer broke Paavo Nurmi's world record (3:52.6) and set a new one at 3:51.0 in Berlin in September 1926. Peltzer was the only athlete to have held the 800 m and the 1500 m world records simultaneously, until Sebastian Coe matched the feat over fifty years later. [3]



Born in Ellernbrook-Drage in Holstein, Peltzer overcame childhood ill-health to become a successful athlete, winning his first German championship at age twenty-two. He started university in Munich in 1918, joining the TSV 1860 club, where he was nicknamed "Otto der Seltsame" (Otto the Strange). He continued in Munich, receiving his doctorate in 1925. In 1926 he was one of a group of German athletes invited to the AAA Championships at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, where he won the 800 m, beating Britain's Douglas Lowe, who had won the event at the 1924 Olympic Games which, along with the 1920 Games, Germany had been barred from entering. In 1926, a specially arranged 1500 m race between Peltzer, Paavo Nurmi of Finland, Edvin Wide of Sweden and Herbert Bocher of Germany took place in Berlin which was won by Peltzer in a new world record time. [4]

Shortly before the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, to which German athletes were again allowed to enter with Peltzer elected as team leader, Peltzer was injured in an accident while playing handball. Although he recovered enough to take part in the 800 m heats, he failed to qualify for the final. [5] In 1932 he was team captain, but poor arrangements left the German team trying to run with spiked shoes on the hard Olympic track. Peltzer made the final, but did not finish. [4] [5]

Peltzer was often persecuted for his homosexuality. [6] In 1933 he joined the Nazi Party and the SS. However, in June 1935 he was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for 'homosexual offences with youths'. [7] He was released early on condition that he would end his involvement in sport, but was rearrested in 1937. After spending time in Denmark, Finland (where he slept rough and contracted bronchitis) and Sweden, he returned to Germany in 1941 having been assured that the charges against him would be dropped. However, he was arrested and sent to KZ Mauthausen, where he remained until the camp was liberated on 5 May 1945. [1] [4] [8]

With homosexuality remaining a criminal offence in 1950s Germany, and Peltzer in conflict with the German Athletic Association (DLV) and Carl Diem, [9] Peltzer's opportunities to coach athletics were limited in Germany. He obtained a commission from a German newspaper to report on the Melbourne Olympics, and after the Games tried unsuccessfully to get work with various national athletics organisations. He eventually came to India, coaching in the national athletics stadium in New Delhi, and founded the Olympic Youth Delhi club, later renamed the Otto Peltzer Memorial Athletic Club in his honour. [1] [4]

Following a heart attack in 1967, Peltzer was persuaded to return to Germany, and was treated in hospital in Holstein. After attending an athletics meeting in Eutin, Schleswig-Holstein, Peltzer collapsed and was found dead on a path towards the car park. [1] [10]

In 2000 the DLV established the Otto Peltzer Medal given to outstanding athletes. [1]

Related Research Articles

Paavo Nurmi Finnish middle and long distance runner

Paavo Johannes Nurmi was a Finnish middle-distance and long-distance runner. He was called the "Flying Finn" or the "Phantom Finn", as he dominated distance running in the early 20th century. Nurmi set 22 official world records at distances between 1500 metres and 20 kilometres, and won nine gold and three silver medals in his twelve events in the Summer Olympic Games. At his peak, Nurmi was undefeated for 121 races at distances from 800 m upwards. Throughout his 14-year career, he remained unbeaten in cross country events and the 10,000 m.

1952 Summer Olympics Games of the XV Olympiad, held in Helsinki in 1952

The 1952 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XV Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event held from 19 July to 3 August 1952 in Helsinki, Finland.

Ville Ritola Finnish long-distance runner

Vilho "Ville" Eino Ritola was a Finnish long-distance runner. Known as one of the "Flying Finns", he won five Olympic gold medals and three Olympic silver medals in the 1920s. He holds the record of winning most athletics medals at a single Games – four golds and two silvers in Paris 1924 - and ranks second in terms of most athletics gold medals at a single Games.

Hicham El Guerrouj Moroccan middle-distance runner

Hicham El Guerrouj is a retired Moroccan middle-distance runner. El Guerrouj is the current world record holder of the outdoor 1500 metres, mile, and 2000 metres events. He also held indoor world records for the mile and 1500 metres until 2019, and is the only man since Paavo Nurmi to earn a gold medal in both the 1500 metres and 5000 metres at the same Olympic Games. He has also won the world championship in the 1500 meters four consecutive times in 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2003.

Süreyya Ayhan Kop is a Turkish former female middle distance track runner who specialised in the 1500 metres. In November 2009, she was banned for life by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) due to her second anti-doping rule violation.

Alan Boone Helffrich was an American athlete, winner of gold medal in 4 × 400 m relay at the 1924 Summer Olympics.

Arthur Lydiard New Zealand runner and athletics coach

Arthur Leslie Lydiard was a New Zealand runner and athletics coach. He has been lauded as one of the outstanding athletics coaches of all time and is credited with popularising the sport of running and making it commonplace across the sporting world. His training methods are based on a strong endurance base and periodisation.

Finnkampen, Suomi-Ruotsi-maaottelu or Ruotsi-ottelu, is a yearly international athletics competition held between Sweden and Finland since 1925.

Tatyana Vasilyevna Kazankina is a Soviet/Russian former runner who set seven world records and won a total of three gold medals at the Olympic Games. She was also awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labour and the title Honoured Master of Sports of the USSR in 1976. Kazankina competed for VSS Burevestnik.

Rudolf Harbig German middle-distance runner

Rudolf Waldemar Harbig was a German athlete. As a middle distance runner he was best known for the 800 metres world record that he set in Milan in 1939. He also held the European record in the 400 metres from 1939 until 1955.

Jules Ladoumègue French middle-distance runner

Jules Ladoumègue was a French middle-distance runner. He became a running star as the sport enjoyed a huge resurgence at the start of the Great Depression, fueled in large part by newsreel coverage. His career was abruptly cut short when he was banned for life from track for payments he received for several races.

Finland at the 1920 Summer Olympics Sporting event delegation

Finland competed at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium for the first time as a fully independent state. It did compete at the previous Olympics, however, only as the Russian-dependent Grand Duchy of Finland. 63 competitors, 62 men and 1 woman, took part in 51 events in 9 sports.

Finland at the 1924 Summer Olympics Sporting event delegation

Finland competed at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. 121 competitors, all men, took part in 69 events in 12 sports.

Elias Katz

Elias Katz was a Finnish track and field athlete, who competed mainly in the 3000 metres steeplechase.

The men's 1500 metres event was part of the track and field athletics programme at the 1924 Summer Olympics. The competition was held on Wednesday, July 9, 1924, and on Thursday, July 10, 1924. As for all other races the track was 500 metres in circumference. Forty middle distance runners from 22 nations competed. The maximum number of athletes per nation was 4.

Athletics at the 1928 Summer Olympics – Mens 1500 metres

The men's 1500 metre event at the 1928 Olympic Games took place between August 1 & August 2. Forty-four athletes from 19 nations competed. NOCs were limited to 4 competitors each. The event was won by Harri Larva of Finland, the nation's second consecutive victory in the 1500 metres. France won its first medal in the event since 1900, with Jules Ladoumègue's silver matching the nation's best result.

Raymond Milton Conger was an American middle-distance runner. He held the world record for the 1,000 yards and the American record for the 1,500 metres. In the U.S. national championships, Conger was a three-time winner in both the 1,000 yd and the mile run. At the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, he won his qualifying heat for the 1,500 m but did not finish in the final.

Séra Martin French middle-distance runner

Séraphin "Séra" Martin was a French middle-distance runner who set world records in the 800 metres and 1000 metres. He competed at the 1928 and 1932 Olympics and placed sixth and eighth in the 800 metres, respectively.

10,000 metres at the Olympics

The 10,000 metres at the Summer Olympics is the longest track running event held at the multi-sport event. The men's 10,000 m has been present on the Olympic athletics programme since 1912. The women's event was added to the programme over seventy years later, at the 1988 Olympics. It is the most prestigious 10,000 m race at elite level. The competition format is a straight final between around 30 athletes, although prior to 2004 a qualifying round was held.

Eläintarha Stadium

Eläintarha Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium at the Eläintarha park in Helsinki, Finland. It was opened in 1910 as the first stadium in Helsinki. Today it is mostly used by track and field athletes.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Otto Peltzer.
  2. Otto Peltzer.
  3. Raevuori, Antero (1997). Paavo Nurmi, juoksijoiden kuningas (in Finnish) (2nd ed.). WSOY. p. 247. ISBN   978-9510218501.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Otto the Strange – the Champion who defied the Nazis, The Observer Sport Monthly, July 2008 No 101
  5. 1 2 The Historic Series on Olympic Running (III): Men’s 800m. (25 August 2015). Retrieved on 2015-09-11.
  6. Riordan, James; Arnd Krüger (1999). International Politics of Sport in the Twentieth Century. Taylor & Francis. ISBN   0-419-21160-8.
  7. Herzer, Manfred: Dr. Otto Peltzer – "Ein Pädophiler überlebt den Nazi-Terror," in: Capri. Zeitschrift für schwule Geschichte, Nr. 27 (December 1999), pp. 32–47
  8. Running Cultures: Racing in Time and Space, author John Bale 2003 ISBN   0-7146-5535-X pp. 111–112
  9. Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Sportswissenschaft No 3 2004
  10. The true friends of India. The Hindu, 7 March 2005
Preceded by
Flag of the United States.svg Ted Meredith
Men's 800 metres World Record Holder
3 July 1926 – 14 July 1928
Succeeded by
Flag of France.svg Séra Martin
Preceded by
Flag of Finland.svg Paavo Nurmi
Men's 1500 metres World Record Holder
11 September 1926 – 4 October 1930
Succeeded by
Flag of France.svg Jules Ladoumegue
Preceded by
European Record Holder Men's 800m
3 July 1926 – 14 July 1928
Succeeded by
Flag of France.svg Séra Martin
Preceded by
Flag of Finland.svg Paavo Nurmi
European Record Holder Men's 1500m
11 September 1926 – 4 October 1930
Succeeded by
Flag of France.svg Jules Ladoumegue