NAZI Nuremberg Party Rallies: Reichsparteitag


Figure 1.--The high point of the year for NAZI stalwarts and older Hitler Youth was the annual Party Rally at Nuremburg. Hitler used it to inform the Party faitful what the program for the year would be. The principal focus of the rallies was to the centrality of Adolf Hitler to the National Socialist movement. The Hitler Youth played an importnt role in the pagentry and one day of the Rally was devoted to the HJ.

Geman Führer Adolf Hitler commonly used the annual Nuremberg NAZI Party Rallies (Reichsparteitag) to make important announcements. The Party Rallies are sometimes called conventions or congresses, but this seems a misnomer as the assembled party members did not debate policy, but were there to hear what the leadership told them about Party policy which in 1933 becanme government policy. The The Nuremberg Rallies was the annual rally of the NAZI Party. The first rally was held in 1923, the year Hitler staged the Beer Hall Putch in Munich. They were not at first held annually. It was not until 3 years later thst the second Rally was held (1926). The first Rallies were relatively modest affairs, but became much more important as the NAZIs became a major political party (1930) and especially after the seizure of power (1933). With the resources of the Führer state, Reichsparteitag became an annual national celebration. The Reichsparteitag were staged annually at the NAZI party rally grounds in Nuremberg (1933-38). The Hitler Youth and other NAZI units olayed a major role in the pgentry. The best known Reichsparteitag is probably the 6th Reichsparteitag (1935). Leni Riefenstahl used the event to film 'Triumph des Willens' widely regarded as the most powerful propagnda film ever made. It was also the platform for issuing the Nuremberg Race Laws. Rhe Rallies were held through 1938 when Hitler used the Rally as the final statement of his commitment to seize the Sudentenland, leadsing to the Munich Crisis. The 1938 Rally would prove to be the last one. The 1939 Rally was cancelled when Hilter launched World War II by invading Poland (September 1939).

Nuremberg / Nürnberg

Nuremberg is a beautiful medieval city with a storied history. It is located in northern Bavaria. The most important historical sight is Nuremberg Castle (Nürnberger Burg) is the sandstone structure that was an imperial residence for the great Holy Roman Emperors. It was one of Germany’s most important medieval fortresses, dating back to about 1000 AD. For about five centuries the castle was the residence of the Holy Roman emperors. King Conrad II was responsible for building the royal wing of the castle. Nurebberg was a free imperial ciy until the Napoleonic Era (1219-1803). It developed as a major trading center in medieval Germany. It became the center of the German Renaisance (15th-16th century). Major German figures (Albrecht Dürer, Hans Sachs, Peter Vischer, Veit Stoss, and Michael Wolgemut). It was an early center of printing. It was also an early center for Protestants and the Peace of Nuremberg (1532) granted important rights to Protestants. The city declined as a result of the 30 Years War. It was annexed by Bavaria (1806). It developed as an industrial center. The first German railroad was built there. Nuremberg as Germany developed an industrial econimy was noted for its production of percession instruments as well as chemicals. There were also imporant breweries and toy manufacturers. But it was the medieval that attracted the NAZIs. Much of their mindset was turning back the clock to the ciuntry's medieval past.

Terminology

The Party Rallies are sometimes called conventions or congresses, but this seems a misnomer as the assembled party members did not debate policy, but were there to hear what the leadership told them about Party policy which in 1933 becanme government policy. The The Nuremberg Rallies was the annual rally of the NAZI Party.

Hitler's Choice

Hitler chose Nuremberg as the location for the NAZI Party's annual rallies. Nuremberg was known as "the most German of all German cities". The city was located in Bavaria where the NAZIs were especially popular. It was an important comunications center located if not in the center of Germany, close to it.

Importance

The high point of the year for NAZI stalwarts and older Hitler Youth was the annual Party Rally at Nuremburg. Hitler used it to inform the Party faitful what the program for the year would be. The principal focus of the rallies was to the centrality of Adolf Hitler to the National Socialist movement. The participants were there to pledge their loyalty and devotion to the Führer and to lear of his plans for Germany. They marchedd by him in close order, saluted him, and then listened to his often angry pronouncements. To both Germans and the outside world, the rallies were a show of strength. The were designed to show a united German people following the Führer in lock step.

Albert Speer (1906-81)

Albert Speer joined the National Socialist party (1931). Hitler considered himself as both an artist and architect. He chose Albert Speer (1905-81), at the time an unknown young architect, to design a monumental stage setting for the Party Rallies. Speer worked with Ludwig Ruff. Hitler was pleased with what they produced. As a result, of this initial colaboration, Speer went on to become one of the most inflential of the top NAZIs. Hitler as the War began to go against Germany made Speer Minister of Armaments (1942) and then authority to rationalize thge German war economy (1943). Having taken on the Soviet Union and America while still at war with Britain, there was no way that Germany could match the material output of its adversaries. Speer did make needed changes that allowed Germany to increase production and maintain it untill late-1944 despite battlkefielkd defeats and the massuve Allied strategic bombing campaign. By this time of the War, German production was increasingly dependent of forced and slave-labor. This mean that Speer became personally involved with slave kabor, something he managed to hide after the War at the Nuremberg Trials. The Nuremberg Tribunal sentenced him to 20 years in Spandau prison by the Nuremberg tribunal. After serving his sentence, he published the autobiographical Inside the Third Reich (1970) and Spandau: The Secret Diaries (1976).

Rally Grounds

The NAZIs etablished an 11 sq. km. area southeast of the city for the Party Rallies. It was the Zeppelinfeld. Speer's design was a classic work of Fascist arictecture. The overall impact was a massive construction designed ro reduce the individual to insignificance. It was the perfect setting to stage NAZI propaganda parades and pagentry. The best known structure was the long colonnade along the grandstand which Hitler used to address the adoring crowds of as many as 100,000 people. The War intervened before the entire complex could be constructed. The huge congress hall in particular was not completed. The center-piece of the complex was to be a hugh Comgress Hall. Hitler ordered it built at great cost for use once a year. Construction ceased in 1942 because of the War. It was designed to accomodate 50,000 people.

Political Platform

Geman Führer Adolf Hitler commonly used the annual Nuremberg NAZI Party Rallies (Reichsparteitag) to make important announcements.

The Rallies

The Nuremberg Rallies were massive propaganda shows which were held every September. Eventually about 0.5 million people would participate in each rally. They became lavishly staged pagents. The NAZIs used psuedo-religious elements combined with Teutonic symbolism. The staging was both innovative and imaginative. Lighting was a especially important element. Goebels was especially interesting in employing the film media for political affect. Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Wills" still stands as perhaps the ultimate propaganda film. One author writes, "The propaganda concealed the banality which sometimes characterized the rally events." Banal means "devoid of freshness or originality". I do not agree with this assessment . Hitler was carrying out a thotough revolution in German society. The Rallies with their innovative saging provided the platform for the step by step progression of the revolution. Major elements of the NAZI New Order may have been evil, but I would not call them banal. [Arendt] As the War turned against Germany, Hitler no longer wanted to face the German people. He stoped attending the Nuremberg Party Rallies.

Individual Annual Rallies (1923-38)

The early rallies were modest affairs. The NAZIs held four rallies before seizing power. The first rally was held in Munich (1923). This was the year that Hitler staged the Beer Hall putch. The second rally was not held until the Party had a few years to recover and Hitler was released from jail. The next rally was held in Weimar (1926). The rallies wre then moved to Nuremberg. The next two rallies was held in Nuremberg (1927 and 29). The first Rallies were relatively modest affairs, but became much more important as the NAZIs became a major political party (1930) After the NAZIs came to power Nuremberg was made the permanent location for the rallies and they became annual events (1933). The rallies now with state funds at NAZI disposal were expanded into NAZI propaganda extravaganzas. With the resources of the Führer state, Reichsparteitag became an annual national celebration. The Reichsparteitag were staged annually at the NAZI party rally grounds in Nuremberg (1933-38). The Hitler Youth and other NAZI units olayed a major role in the pagentry. Each annual rally was given a slogan designed to express Hitler's primary achievement or goal for the year. The 1933 rally was "The Rally of Victory" because this was the year Hitler was appointed Chancellor. The best known Reichsparteitag is probably the 6th Reichsparteitag (1935). Leni Riefenstahl used the event to film 'Triumph des Willens' widely regarded as the most powerful propagnda film ever made. It was also the platform for issuing the Nuremberg Race Laws. The Rallies were held through 1938 when Hitler used the Rally as the final statement of his commitment to seize the Sudentenland, leadsing to the Munich Crisis. The 1938 rally was "The Rally of Greater Germany" because the Anchluss with Austria was achieved and Hitler was then demanding the Seudtenland from Czechoslovakia. The 1938 Rally would prove to be the last one. The 1939 rally was to be ironically the "The Rally of Peace", but had to be cancelled at short notice when Hitler ordered the invasion of Poland (Septemver 1, 1939), launching World War II.

Hitler Youth Role

The Hitler Youth were an important part of the event. Hitler Youth boys from all over Germany set out on mass marches to Nuremberg, converging into larger numbers as they reached the city. The Nuremberg Rally was a multiple day affair and one day was devoted specifically to the Hitler Youth. The climax of this day was speeches by NAZI stalwarts like Hitler Youth Leader Baldur von Shirach, Deputy and Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess. Finally Hitler himself spoke to the adoring Hitler Youth boys and girls. In addition the youth provide a backdrop and an enthusiasm for the NAZI septacle that was of emense propaganda value.

Propaganda Films

' Triumph des Willens ' (" Triump of the Will "), was the most famous film made in the NAZI era. It is one of thge most poweful and influential films ever made. It was a brilliant piece of propaganda film making. This documentary depicts the Sixth Nazi Party Congress at Nuremberg in 1935. It helped fuel the power of the NAZI state and to make a needed statement of discipline and order that was needed by the NAZIs in 1934. This powerful film had a tremendous impact on Germans, especially young Germans. Its sweeping style was later used by American director Frank Capra for his war documentaries. The director was. It may well be the classic propaganda film of all time. The power of the film probably was a factor in the Allied decision to hold the war crimes trials in Nuremburg--the ideological seat of NAZI power. Another NAZI documentary was made depicting the Hitler Youth role in the 1940 NAZI Part Rally--"Der Marsch zum Führer". The 1939 Party Rally had been cancelled. The 1940 Party Rally celebrated the NAZI military victiries, especially the defeat of France. Most in Germany bdlieved the War was essentially over and this time Germany had won.

World War II (1939-45)

While the Party Rallies ended wth the War, the city as a kind of center of NAZIism was not lost on the Allies. Nuremberg was a target of the Allied strstegic bombing campaign. The city was a manufacturing center supporting the NAZI war effort. The location of the NAZI Party Rallies was not lost on Allied planners. RAF Bomber Commnd Commander liked to pick targets with symbolic importance. And few German cities had more symbolic importance than Nuremberg. Hitler had described it as the most German of German cities. And the annual Party Rallies made Nuremberg the German city most associated with the NAZIs. The RAF bombed Nuremberg (March 30-31, 1944). It was a night raid which webt ahead even though it was a clear moon-lit night. As aesult, it was one of Bomber Command's greatest defeats. They suffered their heaviest loss of the war. They lost 96 of the 779 attcking bombers, but Nurremberg was not heavily damaged. [Middlebrook] At this point in the War, both Bomber Command and the American Eight Airforce focused on France to prepare for D-Day. After the Normandy breakout, the bomber chiefs returned to the Reich. Nurremberg with its medieval aritectural treasures was demolished by sucessive raids. The RAF conducted a massive raid which heavily damaged the city (January 2, 1945). Most German cities were bombed during the War. Few cities were so thoroughly destroyed as Nuremberg. The moveable art treasures were saved because in the depths of the castle rock a bomb shelter protected them. ,

Nuremberg Trials (1946)

The Allies decided to try NAZI war criminals in Nuremberg. This was in part a symbolic gesture because Nuremberg was the heart of NAZI Germany, but the palace of justice in Nureberg was on of the few facilities left standing in Germany large enough to accomodate the proceedings. Nuremberg was location of the annual NAZI Party Congresses. The chilling film, Triumph of the Will depicted one of these congresses. There were other reasons for holding the trials in Nuremberg, one in particular was that it wa in the Western zone. The first trial of the NAZI leadership was held from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946. The International Military Tribunal (IMT) convened in the principal courtroom for criminal cases (room No. 600) in the Nuremberg Palace of Justice. It was the scene of many NAZI show trials. Allied leaders during the War had agreed to pprosecute those responsible for war-crimes.

Documentation Center

City officials after the War did not know what to do with the NAZI complex. Demolition would have been enormously expemsive. Officials in 1973 designated it a historic monument. They did demolish grandstand where Hitler and other NAZIs addressed their followers. The Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelande (Document Centre of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds) now stands where the NAZI Party Rallies were held. Local officials report, "We have deliberately called it a documentation centre rather than a museum to avoid any glorification of Hitler. For the same reason, no Nazi memorabilia is on show. Instead we use photographs, archive film and computer simulations, together with filmed interviews in which local people recall the years before and during the war."

Sources

Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963). The use of the term no doubt comes from Hannah Arendt.

Middlebrook, Martin. The Nuremberg Raid: 30-31 March 1944 (Penguin History)







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Created: 7:31 AM 9/20/2011
Last updated: 10:12 PM 10/24/2011