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Otto Peltzer

Biographical information

TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameOtto Paul Eberhard•Peltzer
Used nameOtto•Peltzer
Nick/petnamesDer Seltsame
Born8 March 1900 in Ellernbrook, Drage (Steinburg), Schleswig-Holstein (GER)
Died11 August 1970 in Eutin, Schleswig-Holstein (GER)
Measurements186 cm / 72 kg
AffiliationsPreußen Stettin
NOC Germany


Otto “Otto der Seltsame” (“Otto the Strange”) Peltzer was a sociologist, educator, writer, journalist and trainer and one of the most interesting and popular figures in 1920s German athletics. His greatest year was 1926 when he set four world records – 500 metres in 1:03.6, 800 metres/880 yards in 1:50.9/1:51.6y, and 1,500 metres in 3:51.0 – and in that year, he defeated, among others, running superstars Paavo Nurmi, Edvin Wide, and Douglas Lowe. In 1927 he added a world record in the 1,000 metres, running 2:25.8 on Colombes, France, and in 1932 he set a European record for the indoor kilometer in 2:30.8. He won multiple German individual championships, as follows: 400 m – 1926, 800 m – 1923-25, 1931-32, 1934; 1,500 m – 1922-25; and 400 hurdles – 1926-27. He was also German school champion at 1,500 metres in 1921-22 and over 400 metres in 1924.

Peltzer joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and was a member of the SS, although they had a particular hatred for him, and in 1934, he was suspended due to homosexual activity under German law §175. A year later the Berlin Court sentenced him to 1½ years in prison due to a violation of German law §176, when he was accused of indecent acts with persons under 14-years-old. Peltzer fled to Sweden in 1939, but returned in 1941 and was interned in the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, where he managed to survive the rock-breaking work.

After the war he again fled Germany, as homosexuality remained a criminal offense in 1950s Germany, and Peltzer was in conflict with the German Athletic Association (DLV) and Carl Diem, and his opportunities to coach were limited. He briefly stayed in England and China, and then 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 organizations before settling in India, where he became known for his involvement in local athletics development. He coached 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 honor.

In 1970 Peltzer was found dead on a path near the car park, having collapsed after attending an athletics meeting in Eutin. In 2000 the DLV launched the “Otto-Peltzer-Medaille” for personalities in athletics, which was to be given to an outstanding and responsible athlete with a critical solidarity in German athletics.

Personal Bests: 400 – 48.8 (1925); 800 – 1:50.9y (1926); 1500 – 3:51.0 (1926).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1928 Summer Olympics Athletics GER Otto Peltzer
800 metres, Men (Olympic) 5 h1 r2/3
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 4 h5 r1/2
4 × 400 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Germany DNS
1932 Summer Olympics Athletics GER Otto Peltzer
800 metres, Men (Olympic) 9
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) AC h3 r1/2
4 × 400 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Germany 4

Special Notes