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Nazis. Nuremberg Rallies.
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
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:
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).
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.
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