Fencing at the 1936 Summer Olympics

Dates 2 – 15 August 1936
Medal Events 7

The fencing at the 1936 Games was held at two venues on the Reichssportfeld, the Sportforum and the Haus des Deutschen Sports. The same schedule of six events for men and the women’s foil were contested in Berlin as took place in Los Angeles in 1932. The Olympic titles were divided between Italy, who won individual and team gold in both epée and foil, and Hungary who were dominant in sabre and also won the sole event for women.

The individual star of the games was Giulio Gaudini of Italy who added silver in team sabre to his two foil titles. In view of the situation in Germany at the time, the medal podium at the women’s foil was one that held a special significance. All three medal winners were Jewish including the host nation’s Helene Mayer, the only Jew on the German team.

Until the 1930s, fencing bouts were usually officiated by five officials, a president and four side judges, who would observe the bout and decide if a valid touch had been scored by voting. This resulted in numerous disputes as to the impartiality and competence of the officials. At the 1931 European Championships the disputes became so heated that the Italians withdrew all of their fencers from the final round of the épée event and threatened to boycott all future international competitions. It became obvious that an electrical scoring system had to be developed to minimize disputes about refereeing.

By 1934, an electrical system for registering épée touches had been successfully developed and it was used in that year’s and the following year’s European Championships. The 1936 Olympics was the first Olympics to use an electrical scoring system for épée. It would not be until 1956 that an electrical system was developed for foil and 1988 for sabre.

After the Olympic Games of 1936, the Italian government of Benito Mussolini announced a program of cash rewards for any Italian athlete who won at an Olympic or World Championship. The Italian fencing federation requested that the FIE’s “European Championships” be henceforth named “World Championships”. The FIE approved this request and the first fencing competition to be officially called a World Championships were held in 1937 at the Palais des Sports in Paris.


Event Status Date Participants NOCs
Foil, Individual, Men Olympic 5 – 6 August 1936 62 22
Foil, Team, Men Olympic 2 – 4 August 1936 97 18
Épée, Individual, Men Olympic 9 – 11 August 1936 68 26
Épée, Team, Men Olympic 7 – 8 August 1936 110 21
Sabre, Individual, Men Olympic 14 – 15 August 1936 71 26
Sabre, Team, Men Olympic 12 – 13 August 1936 107 21
Foil, Individual, Women Olympic 4 – 5 August 1936 41 17
311 (270/41) 29 (29/17)


Event Gold Silver Bronze
Foil, Individual, Men Giulio GaudiniITA Edward GardèreFRA Giorgio BocchinoITA
Foil, Team, Men ItalyITA FranceFRA GermanyGER
Épée, Individual, Men Franco RiccardiITA Saverio RagnoITA Giancarlo Cornaggia-MediciITA
Épée, Team, Men ItalyITA SwedenSWE FranceFRA
Sabre, Individual, Men Endre KabosHUN Gustavo MarziITA Aladár GerevichHUN
Sabre, Team, Men HungaryHUN ItalyITA GermanyGER
Foil, Individual, Women Ilona Elek-SchachererHUN Helene MayerGER Ellen PreisAUT

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Italy ITA 4 3 2 9
Hungary HUN 3 0 1 4
France FRA 0 2 1 3
Germany GER 0 1 2 3
Sweden SWE 0 1 0 1
Austria AUT 0 0 1 1