In the Berlin Olympic Games of that year, Ratjen came fourth. Only three jumpers cleared 1.60m : Kaun, the UK's Dorothy Odam and Hungary's Ibolya Csák (1915 - 2006). All failed 1.62m at the first attempt. At a jump-off, also at 1.62m, Csák was the only one to clear, and became the first Hungarian to win an Olympic Gold.
The irony for the the Nazis was that Bergmann had cleared 1.64m in the trials. And more than that, Csák was also Jewish
In 1938, Ratjen won the European championship in Vienna, beating Csák into second place. However she was later examined by a police doctor after being read at a railway station, and found to have ambiguous genitals. Her European championship was rescinded, as was her permit to compete – on the grounds of violating her amateur status. Csák was awarded the gold.
In 1957, Herman Ratjen, a barman in Hamburg, said that he was Dora Ratjen, that he had been raised as Horst Ratjen, and had lived as a woman for only three years and that the Nazis compelled him to compete as a woman.
Bergman emigrated to the US in 1937 and quickly won their national title in high-jumping. She married and became Margaret Lambert. She saw the story of Herman Ratjen in Time in 1966 in a story about the introduction of sex testing. She did not return to Germany until 1999 when a stadium in her home town of Laupheim was renamed in her honour.
Csák later worked at the Hungarian Banknote printing company, but remained an active spectator in Hungarian athletics until her death in 2006.
Herman Ratjen died at the age of 90.
- “Dora Ratjen”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dora_Ratjen.
- “Ibolya Csák”. The Daily Telegraph. 14/02/2006. www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1510324/Ibolya-Cs%C3%A1k.html.
- Christopher Hilton. “Amazing tale of man called Hermann who finished fourth in women's high jump”. The Independent. 20 July 2008. www.independent.co.uk/sport/general/athletics/amazing-tale-of-man-called-hermann-who-finished-fourth-in-womens-high-jump-872322.html.
This case is the one and only of gender imposture in the Olympics. The whole embarrasment of sex-testing rests on this case. However we do not know the details of Ratjen's intersex status. It could be that she is actually entitled to compete as a woman under modern rules. The claim of Herman Ratjen in Hamburg in 1957 to be Dora rests only on his say-so. No journalist seems to have actually checked it out.
The 2009 film Berlin 36 is the story of Gretel Bergmann. There is no character called Ratjen in the cast list.