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Nazis. Nuremberg Rallies.

Reichsparteitag 1933
Reichsparteitag 1933

The Nuremberg Rally (officially, Reichsparteitag, literally "reich party day") was the annual rally of the NSDAP (Nazi Party) in the years 1923 to 1938 in Germany. Especially after Hitler's rise to power in 1933, they were large propaganda events by the state. The Reichsparteitage were held annually at the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg from 1933 to 1938 and are thus usually referred to in English as the Nuremberg Rallies.

History and Purpose

Reichsparteitag 1934
Reichsparteitag 1934

The first rallies by the NSDAP took place in 1923 in Munich and 1926 in Weimar. From 1927 on, they ran exclusively in Nuremberg. Nuremberg was selected for pragmatic reasons: It was situated in the center of the German Reich and the local Luitpoldhain was well suited as a venue. In addition, the NSDAP was able to rely on the well organized local strand of the party in Franconia, then led by Gauleiter Julius Streicher. The Nuremberg police were sympathetic to the event. Later, the location was justified by putting it into the tradition of the Reichstag in the Holy Roman Empire. After 1933, the rallies were held in the first half of September under the label of Reichsparteitage des deutschen Volkes ("National Congress of the (Nazi) Party of the German People"), which was meant to symbolize the solidarity between the German people and the Nazi Party. This point was further emphasized by the yearly growing number of participants, which finally reached over half a million from all sections of the party, the army and the state.

The Nuremberg Rallies

Each rally was given a programmatic title, which related to recent national events:

  • 1923 First Party Congress; Munich January 27, 1923
  • 1923 "German day rally", Nuremberg September 1, 1923
  • 1926 2nd Party Congress; Refounding Congress, Weimar July 4, 1926
  • 1927 3rd Party Congress; Day of Awakening, Nuremberg August 20, 1927; the propaganda film Eine Symphonie des Kampfwillens was made at this rally.
  • 1929 4th Party Congress; Day of Composure, Nuremberg August 2, 1929
  • 1933 5th Party Congress; The title "Rally of Victory" (Reichsparteitag des Sieges) relates to the seizing of power and the victory over the Weimar Republic. The Leni Reifenstahl film Sieg des Glaubens was made at this rally.
  • 1934 6th Party Congress; This rally initially did not have a theme. Later it was labeled "Rally of Unity and Strength" (Reichsparteitag der Einheit und Stärke), "Rally of Power" (Reichsparteitag der Macht) or "Rally of Will" (Reichsparteitag des Willens). The Leni Reifenstahl film Triumph des Willens was made at this rally.
  • 1935 7th Party Congress; "Rally of Freedom" (Reichsparteitag der Freiheit). 'Freedom' refers to the reintroduced compulsory military service and thus the 'liberation' from the Treaty of Versailles. The Leni Reifenstahl film Tag der Freiheit was made at this rally.
  • 1936 8th Party Congress;"Rally of Honor" (Reichsparteitag der Ehre): The invasion of the demilitarized Rheinland, in the eyes of the NSDAP leadership, constituted the restoration of German honor. The Leni Reifenstahl film Festliches Nurnberg incorporated footage made at this rally, as well as the rally of 1937.
  • 1937 9th Party Congress;In the "Rally of Labor" (Reichsparteitag der Arbeit) what was referred to was the reduction of unemployment since the rise to power. This rally was particularly notable due to Albert Speers "Cathedral of Light", 134 searchlights that cast verticle beams into the sky around the stadium to symbolise the walls of a building. Festliches Nurnberg incorperated footage made at this rally.
  • 1938 10th Party Congress; Because of the annexation of Austria to the German Reich, this event was called "Rally of Greater Germany" (Reichsparteitag Großdeutschland).
  • 1939 11th Party Congress; The name "Rally of Peace" (Reichsparteitag des Friedens) was to reiterate the German will to peace, to the population and other countries. It was cancelled on short notice, as one day before the planned date on September 1, Germany began its offensive against Poland (which ignited World War II).


Reichsparteitag 1935
Reichsparteitag 1935

The primary aspect of the Nuremberg Rallies was the almost religious focus on Adolf Hitler, portraying Hitler as Germany's savior, chosen by providence. The gathered masses listened to the FÜhrer's speeches, swore loyalty and marched before him. Representing the Volksgemeinschaft as a whole, the rallies served to demonstrate the might of the German people. The visitors of the rallies by their own free will were subordinate to the discipline and order in which they should be reborn as a new people.

An additional important component of the Nuremberg rallies were the numerous deployments and parades of the affiliated organisations of the Third Reich (Wehrmacht, SS, SA, Labor Service, Hitler Youth etc.). Nuremberg was also the tribune from which important cornerstones of Nazi policy were proclaimed. The Nuremberg race laws which stripped Jews of citizenship and other rights were proclaimed at the 1935 rally as measures to "protect German blood".

The demonstration of power was not limited to the rally grounds; the formations also marched through the center of old Nuremberg, where they were reviewed by Hitler and enthusiastic crowds. In the city's old market place (Marktplatz, renamed Adolf-Hitler-Platz in 1933), wooden tribunes were erected. The rows of people walking through the flag-decorated historic town symbolized the continuity between the Reichstag in the Holy Roman Empire and the Third Reich.

Beginning in 1935, the annual rally also included a performance of Richard Wagner's Meistersinger on the first evening of the rally. Hitler was a great admirer of Richard Wagner and, for many Nazis, Wagner's operas depicted mythical scenes that conformed with the Nazis' heroic-German Weltanschauung (world view).

Propaganda movies

Reichsparteitag 1938
Reichsparteitag 1938

For each of the rallies between 1933 and 1935 Leni Riefenstahl created one documentary movie. Relating to the theme of the rally, she called her first movie Triumph of Belief" Der Sieg des Glaubens. However this movie was taken out of circulation after the Röhm-Putsch. The rally of 1934 became the setting for the film Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens), which later became one of the most famous pieces of propaganda of all time. However, several generals in the Wehrmacht protested over the minimal army presence in the film. Hitler apparently proposed modifying the film to placate the generals, but Riefenstahl refused his suggestion. She did agree to return to the 1935 rally and make a film exclusively about the Wehrmacht, which became Tag der Freiheit.

The rallies for 1936 and 1938 were covered in Festliches Nurnberg, which was much shorter than the others, only 21 minutes.


There were two sets of official or semi-official books covering the rallies. The "red books" were officially published by the NSDAP and contained the proceedings of the "congress" as well as full texts of every speech given in chronological order.

The "blue books" were not published by the party press, but rather initially by Julius Streicher, the Gauleiter of Nuremburg, later by Hanns Kerrl. These were larger scale books that included the text of speeches and proceedings, but also larger photographs.

In addition to these, collections of Heinrich Hoffman's photographs were published to commemorate each Party congress, as well as pamphets of Hitlers speeches. Both series of books are much sought after collectors items.

Why not also search for...

  • Leni Riefenstahl
  • propaganda
  • Der Sieg des Glaubens
  • Triumph des Willens
  • Tag der Freiheit

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