In 1948 there was an interesting change in the world of art as it relates to the Olympic games.  From the very first “modern” Olympic games, the 1912 games, there were art competition events that the winners were awarded Olympic medals.  The International Olympic Committee (IOC) founder, Pierre de Coubertin, wanted to bring together art with athletic events, which was achieved by the art events in the Olympics.  There were five separate events: music, literature, sculpture, painting, and architecture.  Each artistic peace had to relate to the spirit of the Olympic games and had to have been completed within the four years since the prior games.  It’s difficult to imagine earning a gold medal for a sculpture created by an amateur (no professionals could compete).

After 1948 however, the art competition changed to an art festival which still remains today.  This was because of some issues with this competition.  The IOC demanded that only amateurs compete in the art competition.  Because of this, it was quite often that the works of “art” were not up to par with what a medal earning artistic piece should be.  As such, it was common that no medals were given in certain “events” each Olympic games.  Professional athletes were also slowly being allowed to compete in the games but the IOC remained persistent that no professional artist could compete.  For these reasons, paired with a general lack of interest by spectators, the IOC removed the art portion of the Olympic games.  The 1948 games was an end to Coubertin’s vision of artistic Olympic medalists.

Below are images of a couple of the gold medal works of art

Gold Medal for Painting: Alfred Reginald Thomson


Gold Medal for Architectural Design: Adolf Hoch





While the West was working through the rebuilding process after WWII, the Middle East was seeing changes as well.  Just like the United States helped Western Europe with the Marshall Plan, the United States also was helping out Israel.  In 1948 the US played a role in helping create the new and independent state of Israel.

On May 14, 1948 President Harry Truman recognized the newly formed (that day) state of Israel.  This obviously came with much international concern as it drove conflict in the Palestine region.  The British, who occupied much of Palestine at the time, warned the United Nations and the United States of these actions, as it was sure to unsettle the region.  At the end of 1947 the United Nations passed Resolution 181, which divided Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.  This lead to the creation of the Israeli state in 1948 but this was not a peaceful creation.


Almost immediately Arab Palestinians were upset and did not recognize the UN resolution.  Fighting began between the Jews and Arabs, which lasted into 1949.  There were a few cease-fires during this time but peace would not stay.  To this day, we all know that there has been no lasting peace in this region and the land is still fought over.  You can see how over the years the Nation of Israel has expanded its land ownership in Palestine.



After WWII much of Europe was destroyed.  This included its infrastructure for industry.  This caused obviously depression in their economies and the people struggled.  There were great resource shortages like coal for heating and even food.  Much of Europe truly struggled to rebuild.

During this post war area, western countries, especially the United States, feared the  spread of Communism from Russia and it’s allies into Western Europe because of its weakened state.   In 1948, President Harry Truman signed the Marshall Plan, aka The European Recovery Program, to help the European nations rebound.  The Cold War with Russian had started a few years earlier so the Marshall Plan was designed to help rebuild the European nations to allow them to stand on their own.  The United States felt they could not afford to allow communism to spread into its European allies.


The Marshall Plan gave $13 Billion in aid to 16 European nations over the span of over three years.  The money was not used to rebuild factories and infrastructure to the way it was pre-war, but to rebuild with the future in mind.  Brand new state of the art factories were built.  Workers were taught new manufacturing skills and processes that the United States had pioneered.  The Marshall Plan also provided food and other resources needed by the people of Europe to survive.  Many economists aren’t positive that the Marshall Plan was the sole reason for the European resurgence post WWII but the nations involved came roaring back and greatly prospered for decades after the war.DIVI594

Interestingly enough, Russia and its allies were offered to be a part of the Marshall plan.  Communist leaders denied this assistance, as they did not want to give up control, or feel they owed anything to the United States.


There were a few technological advances in the Olympic year of 1948.  The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) was the first to televise the Olympic games in the home.  In the 1936 games, the Olympics were televised on 25 different screens around Berlin.  This was the first sporting event ever televised.  However, not to be outdone by the Germans, the BBC brought the games to home televisions.  Around 500,000 people all over England got to see the games.  This was a major step in televising sporting events in the future.  Below is an interesting short film of this new technology…


Another technological advancement in the world of entertainment was the LP record.  The LP, or Long Play, record provided advantages over the previous phonograph records.  The use of vinyl, “micro groves”, and a slower spin speed allowed for a better quality sound, more continuous music per side (5 minutes to 20 minutes), and the elimination of an actual album.  Previously, a record album was an actual bound “book” which contained sleeves of multiple records.  The LP allowed for these collections of music to be contained on one disc.  However, the title “album” still stuck with the single disk.  Columbia Records is given credit for this advancement.




The 1948 summer Olympics was one for the ages.  These games were the first held in 12 years because of WWII.  Much of Europe was still rebuilding yet the world pulled together and enjoyed a great summer Olympic games.

The games were set in London, England during a time where there was still deep pain from the war.  The games were originally set to be played in 1944 but had to be cancelled because of the war.  England had to pull together these games rather quickly and on limited resources.  Food was scarce as there was still rationing going on.  Luckily Wembley stadium survived through the war so this was the site that most of the games took place.   There was however, very little by way of excitement heading into the games.  There wasn’t much fanfare, decorations like flags, or even advertisements.  Many people in England even felt the games were forced on England when they should be focused on pulling a nation from the ashes and destruction of war.


There were many new countries that participated like Burma, Syria, and Venezuela.  However, there were three notable countries who did not participate, Germany, Japan, and USSR.  Germany and Japan were not invited to participate due to being the aggressors of WWII.  In the end, the games were considered by most a great success.  The world was able to come together and enjoy a sense of normalcy.  Here is a quote from a writer

“…somehow the old and new democrats and the dwellers behind iron curtains strove and played happily together, and the spirit of the Olympic oath was honored.  This surely was something of a miracle in our times.”