Lost gold medal from 1932 Olympics found after 60 years

 
A gold medal won by a German athlete at the 1932 Olympic games in Los Angeles which was thought to be lost for some decades has been found during the renovation of a day care centre in Berlin. Video: Reuters

Lost forever. That is what the family of rower Horst Hoeck thought for decades about his gold medal which he won at the Olympic Games in 1932 in Los Angeles. But during the refurbishment of a day care centre that now occupies the former residence of the Hoeck-family in Berlin, the builders made a surprise-find: A wall was moved and behind it was a second wall with a safe, as the mayor of Kleinmachnow, Michael Grubert told Reuters TV.

That alone was a surprise and nobody expected to find anything of value in the safe anymore. But the builders were in for another surprise when they opened the safe: at the very back was a little box and in it was the missing Olympic gold medal.

The secret of the gold medal was soon unearthed. Karin Isermann, the daughter of rower Horst Hoeck, got in touch with Grubert. Her father had won that medal in 1932, as part of the coxed four. He had lived in that house where now the day care centre is located. But the happy family life in Kleinmachnow did not last very long. Hoeck was arrested in 1947, after he refused to work for the Soviet Military Administration. He escaped - together with his family - to the Western part of Berlin.

The medal was thought to have vanished during the escape.

"My father missed it after his escape and wanted to have it back. But he couldn't find it and had no idea that it was in the safe in Kleinmachnow," Hoeck's daughter, Karin Isermann, remembers. "And he thought that he had lost it during his escape. And he wanted it back."

The now 76-year old said that she is very happy about the find. But her joy is not without a hint of sadness, she said.

"I am also very sad that my father did not live to see it. Because he died in 1969. It is very sad because I know that he would have been very happy about it. Because it was very close to his heart, this medal. It was a token of this sporting success."

The walls of the little public house, that Hoeck's father opened and Hoeck continued until his death in 1969 in the western district of Charlottenburg, are lined with Hoeck's sporting success-stories. This includes a photo of the winning coxed four team from the Los Angeles Olympics.

The same goes goes for the walls at Hoeck's former rowing club in Berlin's Wannsee district, which is still open and is still producing champions.

Reuters

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