The Nuremberg Rally was the annual rally of the Nazi Party in the years 1923 to 1938 in Germany. The first rallies took place in 1923 in Munich and in 1926 in Weimar. From 1927 on, they ran exclusively in Nuremberg. Especially after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, they were big propaganda events. Nuremberg was situated in the centre of Germany and was well suited as a venWAW ue. In addition, the Nazis had a well organized local party in Franconia and 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, they were held in the first half of September under the label of “national party congress of the German people”, meant to symbolize solidarity with the people. This point was further emphasized by the yearly growing number of participants, which finally reached over half a million members from all sections of the party, the army and the state.

The Rallies. Every rally was given a propaganda title by Goebbels, which related to recent national events. 1933 The title “Rally of Victory” relates to the seizing of power and the victory over the Weimar Republic. 1934 was labeled “Rally of Unity and Strength” “Rally of Power” or, relating to the movie by Leni Riefenstahl, “Rally of Will” 1935 “Rally of Freedom” refers to the reintroduced compulsory military service and thus the ‘liberation’ from the Treaty of Versailles. 1936 “Rally of Honor” The invasion of the demilitarized Rheinland 1937 In the “Rally of Labor”referred to the reduction of unemployment 1938 Because of the annexation of Austria this event was called “Rally of Greater Germany” 1939 “Rally of Peace” was cancelled on short notice, as on September 1st, Germany began its offensive against Poland. Procedure

The primary aspect of the Nuremberg Rallies was the almost religious focus on Adolf Hitler, portraying Hitler as Germany’s savior. The gathered masses listened to the Führer’s speeches, swore loyalty and marched before him. Another important component of the rallies were the numerous parades of the Wehrmacht, SS, SA, Hitler Youth etc.. Nuremberg was a place from which important new policies were proclaimed.

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The Nuremberg 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 centre 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’ world view of an heroic Germany.

Propaganda movies

For each of the rallies between 1933 and 1935 Leni Riefenstahl created one documentary movie, relating to the theme of the rally. However her movie of the 1933 rally was taken out of circulation because it featured Ernst Rohm, murdered on “the Night of the Long Knives” in June 1934. The rally of 1934 became the setting for the film Triumph of the Will, 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.

Albert Speer

* Albert Speer joined the Nazi Party in 1931. In 1934, Speer was chosen as the Nazi Party’s chief architect. One of his first commissions was perhaps his most famous, the Nuremberg parade grounds seen in Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda masterpiece, Triumph of the Will. Speer’s challenge was to create a new design to represent the Nazi world vision. The grounds were based on ancient Greek Doric architecture magnified to an enormous scale, capable of holding 240,000 people. At the 1934 Party rally, Speer surrounded the site with 130 anti-aircraft searchlights. This created the effect of a “cathedral of light,” or, as it was called by British Ambassador Sir Neville Henderson, a “cathedral of ice”.

Nuremberg was also to be the site of many more official Nazi buildings, most of which were never built. The German Stadium would hold 400,000 spectators as the site of the Aryan Games, a proposed replacement for the Olympic Games. While planning these buildings, Speer invented the theory of “ruin value.” Enthusiastically supported by Hitler, all new buildings would be constructed in such a way that they would leave aesthetically pleasing ruins thousands of years in the future. Such ruins would be a testament to the greatness of the Third Reich, just as ancient Greek or Roman ruins were symbols of the greatness of their civilizations. Speer would later go on to redesign Berlin as a seat of Nazi power. During the war he was appointed armaments minister. He was considered the most rational of the nazi leaders. Convicted of war crimes at the Nuremberg trials, Speer spent 20 years in Spandau prison before being released in 1966. He died in 1982.

Nazi Propaganda

•The Nuremberg Rallies were the brainchild of Josef Goebbels

•1929 – Goebbels elected to Reichstag and given control of Nazi Propaganda; Swastika, parades, use of radio and campaigning by aeroplane were essential to Nazi success, revitalising the Nazi party and doubling its votes.

•1933 – Goebbels appointed minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda; controlled all means of communication – press, radio, film, publications, literature, theatre, music, and fine arts; Goebbels would effectively be Germany’s cultural dictator for twelve years

•Opposition newspapers banned, others strictly censored, textbooks rewritten

•1933 – “Burning of the books” destroying any books that didn’t pass the strictest censorship tests

•Created the Hitler Myth – Goebbels created the Hitler myth through newsreels and short films. compared Hitler to great leaders of history such as Alexander the Great Fuhrer, man of the people, father figure to the nation, catapulted Hitler to God-like status

•1936 Olympics – massive display of propaganda – best facilities, new Olympic stadium, athletes village, Olympic flame, Leni Reifenstahl made official film of event – success of Jesse Owens dented propaganda success

•1938 Krystalnacht – Goebbels ordered the SS to stage “spontaneous demonstrations” specifically targeting Jews; 7,000 Jewish-owned shops were looted and vandalised, 91 Jews were killed, 30,000 were sent to concentration camps, and more than 900 synagogues were destroyed

•During the War – Victory parades; successful generals elevated to heroes; exaggerated claims of victory while truth hidden from people; propaganda films

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