Theodor Lewald

Biographical information

Full nameFriedrich Otto Theodor•Lewald
Used nameTheodor•Lewald
Born18 August 1860 in Berlin, Berlin (GER)
Died15 April 1947 in West-Berlin, Berlin (GER) 
NOC Germany


Theodor Lewald was an administrative jurist and ministerial official in the Ministry of the Interior from 1891-1919 and State Secretary in the Reich’s Ministry of the Interior from 1919-21. He continued to work in various capacities as a representative of Germany, including as a German representative for the negotiations with Poland about Upper Silesia in 1924, and as a member of the board of the national-liberal German People’s Party. He received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Law, University of Bonn and from the University of Wisconsin (LL.D.) (1904) in the United States. In sports, he was a rower as a student and co-founder and chairman of the Potsdam Governmental Rowing Club. In 1920 he co-founded the German Academy of Physical Education and from 1921-33 served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Lewald’s involvement with the Olympic Movement began in the early 1900s when he was appointed as Commissioner of Exhibitions to the St. Louis World’s Fair, and in that role he approved subsidies for the German Olympic teams of 1900 and 1904. This led to his support of Berlin’s role as host of the 1916 Olympic Games, which were never held. Lewald was named President of the German Sports Association in 1919 and served as President of the German Olympic Committee from 1919-33. He organized the Olympic Congress in Berlin in 1930 and was primarily responsible for the IOC selecting Berlin to host the 1936 Olympic Games. Lewald was co-opted onto the IOC in November 1924, and attended almost every IOC Session during his tenure.

Lewald practiced as a Christian but his paternal grandmother was Jewish, which made his status under the Nazis tenuous. In 1933 he was faced with expulsion from the Berlin Organizing Committee but support from the American IOC Members kept him on the OCOG, although only titularly, as most of the major decisions passed to Carl Diem. In January 1938 Lewald was forced to resign from the IOC. He lived only a few years after World War II, dying in 1947.

Organization roles

Role Organization Tenure NOC As
President Organisationskomitee für die XI. Olympiade Berlin 1936 GER Theodor Lewald
President Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund 1919—1925 GER Theodor Lewald
Member International Olympic Committee 1924—1938 GER Theodor Lewald
President Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund 1925—1934 GER Theodor Lewald
Executive Board Member International Olympic Committee 1927—1937 GER Theodor Lewald