Bergmann had never suspected a thing. "The only aspect that was strange was that when we showered she never stripped off like the rest of us and even had her own separate bathroom. It seemed odd to us that someone could still be so bashful and self-conscious at the age of 17."
Ratjen was stripped of all his titles in 1938 after a doctor determined he was male. He withdrew from sports altogether, went on to take over the family tavern and died in obscurity in 2008.
Bergmann-Lambert, who went on to become U.S. champion three times, in the high jump and shot put in 1937 and again in the high jump in 1938, wrote to Ratjen once in the 1990s.
"I recalled the time we shared a room and the tips we swapped with each other about our sporting techniques, but I never received a reply," she says. "I think he was probably too ashamed, even though as far as I'm concerned, he was used as well.
"I felt sorry for him. He was a bit of a victim as well."
The recent scandal over South African athlete Semenya, who won the women's 800-meter world title in the same stadium in Berlin where the 1936 Olympics were held, brought memories flooding back to Bergmann-Lambert. The South African's gender is still being debated.
"I saw her and thought she looked a little suspicious, but that doesn't mean that she wanted to do any harm," she says. "There could be psychological and physiological reasons for this, and we have to accept that there are people who are born with both sexual characteristics."
In New York, she and her husband, Bruno Lambert, 99, raised two boys, learned to love New York and developed a huge enthusiasm for baseball, he for the Mets, she for the Yankees. (They have separate TV sets.)
She returned to Germany once when a sport center in her former hometown was named after her.
But the bitterness remained, and for decades she kept silent about her life story so that even her fellow athletes and later her family were unaware of it. The cathartic moment came when her sons gave her a computer for her 80th birthday -- and she started writing her story.
"To think I could have been a lot happier if I hadn't lived with so much hate in me," she says. "I was pretty stupid never to talk about it."
Her autobiography, "By Leaps and Bounds," was published in 2004, and she sold the movie rights soon after.
She is forgiving of the makers of "Berlin 36," who elaborated on her already quite extraordinary story by suggesting that she and Ratjen fell in love as they prepared for the Olympics side by side.
"We shared a lot, but certainly nothing like that happened," she says. "But I can understand why they did it -- a 90-minute film about high jumping? I think they needed to add a bit of spice."
Connolly is a special correspondent.