The Nürnberg Reichsparteitag – The Nuremberg Rallies

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

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The Nürnberg Reichsparteitag, meaning Reich Party Day was the annual rally of the National Socialist Workers Party in Germany, held from 1923 to 1938.

They were large propaganda events, especially after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.
These events were held at the NSDAP rally grounds in Nürnberg from 1933 to 1938 and are usually referred to in English as the Nürnberg Rallies.
Many films were made to commemorate them, the most famous of which is ‘Triumph of the Will’.
History and Purpose
The first Party rallies took place in 1923 in Munich and in 1926 in Weimar. From 1927 on, they were held exclusively in Nürnberg.
Nürnberg 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 Party were able to rely on the well organized local branch of the party in Franconia, then led by Gauleiter Julius Streicher.
The Nürnberg police were sympathetic to the event.
Later, the location was justified by putting it into the tradition of the Imperial Diet (German Reichstag) of the Holy Roman Empire, considered to be the First Reich.
After 1933, the rallies were held near the time of the Autumn equinox, under the title of “National Congress of the Party of the German People” (Reichsparteitage des deutschen Volkes), which was intended to symbolize the solidarity between the German people and the 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.

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

1923 – The First Party Congress was held in Munich on January 27, 1923.
1923 – The “German day rally” was held in Nuremberg on September 1, 1923.
1926 – The 2nd Party Congress (“Refounding Congress”) was held in Weimar on July 4, 1926.
1927 – The 3rd Party Congress (“Day of Awakening”) was held on August 20, 1927. The propaganda film Eine Symphonie des Kampfwillens was made at this rally.
1929 – The 4th Party Congress, known as the “Day of Composure”, was held on August 2, 1929. The propaganda film Der Nürnberger Parteitag der NSDAP was made at this rally.
1933 – The 5th Party Congress was held in Nuremberg, August 30 – September 3, 1933. It was called the “Rally of Victory” (Reichsparteitag des Sieges). The term “victory” relates to the Nazi seizure of power and the victory over the Weimar Republic. The Leni Riefenstahl film Der Sieg des Glaubens was made at this rally.
1934 – The 6th Party Congress was held in Nuremberg, September 5-10, 1934. Initially it did not have a theme. Later it was labeled the “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 Riefenstahl film Triumph des Willens was made at this rally.
1935 – The 7th Party Congress was held in Nuremberg, September 10-16, 1935. It was called the “Rally of Freedom” (Reichsparteitag der Freiheit). “Freedom” referred to the reintroduced compulsory military service and thus the German “liberation” from the Treaty of Versailles. The Leni Riefenstahl film Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht was made at this rally, and the Nuremberg Laws were introduced.
1936 – The 8th Party Congress was known as the “Rally of Honour” (Reichsparteitag der Ehre). The remilitarization of the demilitarized Rhinelandin March 1936 constituted the restoration of German honour in the eyes of many Germans. The film Festliches Nürnberg incorporated footage shot at this rally, as well as the rally of 1937.
1937 – The 9th Party Congress was called the “Rally of Labour” (Reichsparteitag der Arbeit). It celebrated the reduction of unemployment in Germany since the Nazi rise to power. This rally was particularly notable due to Albert Speer’s Cathedral of light: 152 searchlights that cast vertical beams into the sky around the Zeppelin Field to symbolise the walls of a building and the attendance of Prince Chichibu, a brother of theEmperor of Japan, who had a personal meeting with Adolf Hitler to boost relations between Japan and Germany. Festliches Nürnberg incorporated footage made at this rally.
1938 – The 10th Party Congress was named the “Rally of Greater Germany” (Reichsparteitag Großdeutschland). This was due to the annexationof Austria to Germany that had taken place earlier in the year.
1939 – The 11th Party Congress was given the name “Rally of Peace” (Reichsparteitag des Friedens). It was meant to reiterate the German desire for peace, both to the German population and to 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).

Procedure

The primary aspect of the Nürnberg Rallies was to strengthen the personality cult of Adolf Hitler, portraying him as Germany’s saviour, 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.

Reichsparteitagsgelände

The rally grounds of the National Socialist Workers Party (NSDAP) covered about 11 square kilometres in the southeast of Nürnberg, Germany.
Six Party Rallies were held there between 1933 and 1938.
Overview

The grounds included:
The Luitpoldarena, a deployment area
the Luitpold Hall or “Old Congress Hall” (damaged during World War II, later demolished)
the Kongresshalle (Congress Hall) or Neue Kongresshalle (New Congress Hall) (unfinished)
the Zeppelin Feld (Zeppelin Field), another deployment area
the Märzfeld (March Field) (unfinished, later demolished), a deployment area for the Wehrmacht (army)
the Deutsche Stadion (German stadium) (never exceeded the state of foundation), which was to be the largest sports stadium in the world
the former Stadion der Hitlerjugend (“stadium of the Hitler Youth”, today Frankenstadion)
the Große Straße (“Great Road”), a (never used) parade road.
A “Haus der Kultur” (House of Culture) and a representative entrance portal towards the “Great Road” were planned at the northwestern end of the “Great Road”, near the (new) Congress Hall.
The grounds were planned by Hitler’s architect Albert Speer, apart from the Congress hall, which was planned by Ludwig and Franz Ruff.
On 30 August 1933 Hitler declared Nürnberg the “Stadt der Reichsparteitage (Reich Party Congresses)”.  The Reichsparteitage were a self-portrayal of the National Socialist, state and had no programmatic task. The unity of the nation was to be demonstrated.
In a propagandistic way a relation was to be drawn between the Party and the glory of the medieval emperors and the Meetings of the Imperial States which were held in Nürnberg.

Reichsparteitagsgelände – Nürnberg
The Buildings
   
Luitpoldarena
Luitpoldarena – Nürnberg

Since 1906 a parkway named “Luitpoldhain” (literally translated: “Luitpold Grove”, named after Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria) existed here.

Luitpoldarena – Nürnberg
During the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) the monumental “Ehrenhalle” (Hall of Honour) was built in the parkway.
In 1933 Hitler replaced the parkway by a strictly-structured deployment area, the so-called “Luitpoldarena” with an area of 84,000 m².
Opposite the “Ehrenhalle” the crescent-shaped “Ehrentribüne” (tribune of honour) or main grandstand which measured 150 m (500 ft) long with 6 m (20 ft) gold eagles on each end was built.
This structure, built by architect Albert Speer, could seat 500 dignitaries and represented the first permanent structure built by the Third Reich in Nürnberg.
The “Ehrenhalle” and the “Ehrentribüne” were connected by a wide granite path.
Ehrenhalle
Ehrenhalle – Nürnberg

The “Ehrenhalle” was built by the city of Nürnberg according to a plan of German architect Fritz Mayer.

It was inaugurated in 1930, during the Weimar Republic.
It is an arcaded hall with an adjacent cobbled stone terrace with two rows of pedestals for fire bowls.
Originally the hall was to be a memorial site for the 9,855 soldiers from Nürnberg who were fallen in World War I.
During the Party Congress of 1929 the then unfinished “Hall of Honour” was used for the enactment of a cult of the dead by the National Socialists the first time.
During the Third Reich the site was used primarily as a commemoration for the fallen soldiers of World War I, and commemoration of the 16 dead of the “Hitlerputsch” (the so-called “Martyrs of the Movement”) (Beer Hall Putsch) which took place on 9 November 1923 in Munich.
Hitler, accompanied by SS-leader Heinrich Himmler and SA-leader Viktor Lutze, strode through the arena over the 240 meters long granite path, from the main grandstand to the terrace of the Ehrenhalle.
The ritual was the climax of the celebration.
During the party rallies, deployments of the SA and the SS with up to 150,000 people took place in this area.
The central “relic” here was the “Blutfahne” (Blood flag), which was carried by the Beer Hall Putsch rebels and was soaked with the blood of one of them.
At the “Blutfahnenweihe” (Blood flag consecration), new “Standarten” (flags) of SA- and SS-units were “consecrated” by touching their guidons with the “Blutfahne”.
Das Blutfahne
das Blutfahne

The Blutfahne (Blood flag) was a Swastika flag used in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, Germany on 9 November 1923.

It subsequently became one of the most revered objects of the Party.
 Andreas Bauriedl 

The flag was actually that of the 5th SA Sturm that was covered in blood from members of the Party who had been shot by the Munich Police (primarily from party member Andreas Bauriedl who fell on top of the flag when he was shot and killed).

Heinrich Trambauer (the flagbearer) took the flag to a friend where he removed the flag from the staff and left with it hidden inside his jacket.
Later, Traumbauer gave the flag to a Karl Eggers, who kept the flag safe.

Heinrich Trambauer

After Adolf Hitler was released from Landsberg prison (after serving nine months of a five-year prison sentence for his part in the putsch), Eggers gave the flag to him.

It was then fitted to a new staff and finial, and just below the finial was a silver dedication sleeve which bore the names of the three dead participants of the putsch.
Bauriedl was one of the three honorees.

Blutfahne

In addition, the flag was no longer attached to the staff by its original sewn-in sleeve, but by a red-white-black intertwined cord which ran through the sleeve instead.

The flag was thereafter treated as a sacred object by the Party, and it was carried by SS Sturmbannführer Jakob Grimminger at various Nazi party ceremonies.
One of the most visible uses of the flag was by Adolf Hitler, who at the annual party rallies at Nürnberg  touched other Nazi banners with the Blutfahne, thus ‘sanctifying’ the new flags with the old.

das Blutfahne
das Braune Haus

When not in use, the Blutfahne was kept at the headquarters of the Nazi Party, ‘das Braune Haus’ (the Brown House), in Munich, with an SS guard of honor.

The flag had a small tear in it that went un-repaired for a number of years.
The tear was believed to have occurred during the putsch.

Blutfahne

The Blutfahne was last seen in public at the Induction Ceremony of the Volkssturm on 18 October 1944 (not at Gauleiter Adolf Wagner’s funeral six months earlier, as has frequently been reported).

This ceremony was conducted by Heinrich Himmler and attended by Keitel, Guderian, Lammers, Bormann, Fiehler, Schepmann and Kraus.
After this last public display, the Blutfahne vanished into history.
The Buildings – continued

Luitpoldhalle

Luitpoldhalle – Nürnberg

The Luitpold Hal (built 1906) had an outline of 180 m x 50 m (540 ft x 150 ft) featured 76 loudspeakers, 42 spotlights, the largest pipe organ in Germany and could seat 16,000 people.
Dating back to the Bavarian Exposition, the former machine hall was renovated and first used by the Party  Congress of 1934.
Its monumental neo-classical facade featured a shell limestone facing with three enormous entrance portals.

Kongresshalle

Kongresshalle – Nürnberg
Kongresshalle – Nürnberg

The Congress Hall  was planned by the Nürnberg architects Ludwig and Franz Ruff.
It was planned as a congress centre for the NSDAP with a self-supporting roof, and should have provided 50,000 seats.
It was located on the shore of and in the pond Dutzendteich, and marked the entrance of the rally grounds. The building reached a height of 39 m (129 ft) (a height of 70 m was planned) and a diameter of 250 m (843 ft).
The building is mostly built out of clinker with a facade of granite panels.
The design (especially the outer facade, among other features) is inspired by the Colosseum in Rome.
The foundation stone was laid in 1935, but the building remained unfinished and without a roof.

Große Straße

The great road is almost 2 km (1.2 mi) long and 40 m (132 ft) wide.
It was intended to be the central axis of the site and a parade road for the Wehrmacht.
In its northwestern prolongation the road points towards Nürnberger Burg.
This was to create a relation between the role of Nürnberg during the Third Reich, and its role during medieval times.
The road reached from the Congress Hall to the Märzfeld, the construction work started in 1935 and was finished in 1939 (it has never been used as a parade road, as due to the beginning of World War II, the last rally was held in 1938).
The pavement was made of granite pavers in black and gray with edges of exactly 1.2 m (4 ft).
A representative entrance portal and two pylons were planned at the northwestern end of the Great Road. Near the entrance area of the Deutsch Stadion a grandstand with a hall of pillars was planned for the government leaders and generals who were to take the salute on Wehrmacht formations which were to march in direction of the parade ground Märzfeld.

Albert Speer

Albert Speer 
Adolf Hitler and Albert Speer 

Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer (March 19, 1905 – September 1, 1981) was a German architect. Speer was Adolf Hitler’s chief architect.
Speer joined the Nazi Party in 1931.
His architectural skills made him increasingly prominent within the Party and he became a member of Hitler’s inner circle.
Hitler instructed him to design and construct a number of structures, including the Reich Chancellery and the Zeppelinfeld stadium in Nuremberg where Party rallies were held.

Paul Ludwig Troost
Zeppelinhaupttribüne – Nürnberg

When Troost, who had previously been Hitler’s main architect, died on January 21, 1934, Speer effectively replaced him as the Party’s chief architect.

Paul Ludwig Troost (17 August 1878 – 21 January 1934),[1] born in Elberfeld, was a German architect. An extremely tall, spare-looking, reserved Westphalian with a close-shaven head, Troost belonged to a school of architects, Peter Behrens and Walter Gropius who, even before 1914, reacted sharply against the highly ornamental Jugendstil and advocated a restrained, lean architectural approach, almost devoid of ornament. Troost graduated from designing steamship décor before World War I, and the fittings for showy transatlantic liners like the Europa, to a style that combined Spartan traditionalism with elements of modernity.

Hitler appointed Speer as head of the ‘Chief Office for Construction’.

Zeppelinfeldeingang – Nürnberg
Zeppelinhaupttribüne – Nürnberg

One of Speer’s first commissions after Troost’s death was the Zeppelinfeld stadium—the Nürnberg parade grounds seen in Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda masterpiece Triumph of the Will. This huge work was able to hold 340,000 people.
The tribune was influenced by the Pergamon Altar in Anatolia, but was magnified to an enormous scale.
Speer insisted that as many events as possible be held at night, both to give greater prominence to his lighting effects and to hide the individual Nazis, many of whom were overweight.

Lichtdom – The Cathedral of Light
Zeppelinfeld – Nürnberg
Lichtdom – The Cathedral of Light
Zeppelinfeld – Nürnberg

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”.
Speer described this as his most beautiful work.

The cathedral of light [litchdom] was a main aesthetic feature of the Nuremberg Rallies that consisted of 130 anti-aircraft searchlights, at intervals of forty feet, aimed skyward to create a series of vertical bars surrounding the audience. The effect was a brilliant one, both from within the design and on the outside. The cathedral of light was documented in the Nazi Propaganda film ‘Festliches Nürnberg’, released in 1937.

Nürnberg was to be the site of many more official Nazi buildings, most of which were never built; for example, the German Stadium would have accommodated 400,000 spectators, while an even larger rally ground would have held half a million people.
While planning these structures, Speer invented the concept of “ruin value“: that major buildings should be constructed in such a way that they would leave aesthetically pleasing ruins for thousands of years into 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 those civilizations.
Hitler enthusiastically embraced this concept, and ordered that all the Reich’s important buildings be constructed in accord with it.

Zeppelinfeld

Zeppelinfeldeingang – Nürnberg
Zeppelinhaupttribüne – Nürnberg

The Zeppelin Field is located east of the Great Road.
It consists of a large grandstand (Zeppelinhaupttribüne) with a width of 360 meters (400 yards) and a smaller stand.
It was one of Albert Speer‘s first works for the Party, and was based upon the Pergamon Altar.
The name “Zeppelinfeld” or “Zeppelinwiese” refers to the fact that in August 1909 Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin landed with one of his airships (LZ6) in this location.

Deutsches Stadion

Deutsches Stadion – Nürnberg

Along with his plans for the Welthauptstadt Germania (“world capital Germania”), Albert Speer made the plans for the world’s largest stadium which was to be located on the rally grounds.

Deutsches Stadion – Nürnberg

Derived from the Panathenaic Stadium of Athens, it would have offered 400,000 seats.
It was to get the shape of a horseshoe; planned dimensions: length: 800 m, width: 450 m, height: 100 m, building area 350,000 m².
The laying of the foundation stone was on 9 July 1937.
It was to be finished for the party congress in 1945.
In 1938, the construction began with the excavation.
It was stopped in 1939.

Märzfeld

Märzfeld – Nürnberg

The Märzfeld (March Field) was to be a representation and parade ground for the Wehrmacht.
It was located at the southern end of the “Große Straße” (Great road).
Its dimensions were 955 x 610 meters (1,061 x 677 yards) or bigger than 80 football fields.
The name of the huge deployment area was supposed to recall the recovery of military sovereignty of the German Reich in March 1935.
As in English, the German name of the month “März” derives from the Roman Warrior God Mars.
The name Märzfeld thus also alludes to the Campus Martius, in Rome.)
The construction, never completed, began in 1938 with plans calling for 24 granite towers each at 125 feet in height.
Only eleven were ever completed.
Tribunes for about 160,000 people were planned around the field.
On the central grandstand a group of colossal statures was planned: a goddess of victory and warriors.

Reichsparteitag Films
‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’
“Victory of Faith” 
‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’
“Victory of Faith”
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Official films for the rallies began in 1927, with the establishment of the NSDAP film office.

The most famous films were made by Leni Riefenstahl for the rallies between 1933 and 1935.
Relating to the theme of the rally, she called her first film ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’ (“Victory of Faith”).
This movie was taken out of circulation after the Röhm-Putsch.
The rally of 1934 became the setting for the award-winning ‘Triumph des Willens’ (Triumph of the Will).
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: Unsere Wehrmacht’.
The rallies for 1936 and 1937 were covered in ‘Festliches Nürnberg’, which was shorter than the others, only 21 minutes.

‘Triumph des Willens’

‘Triumph des Willens’
The Triumph of the Will
Poster
Leni Riefenstahl

‘Triumph des Willens’  (The Triumph of the Will) is a 1935 film made by Leni Riefenstahl.
It chronicles the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, which was attended by more than 700,000 Nazi supporters.
The film contains excerpts from speeches given by various Nazi leaders at the Congress, including portions of speeches by Adolf Hitler, interspersed with footage of massed party members.
Hitler commissioned the film and served as an unofficial executive producer; his name appears in the opening titles.
The overriding theme of the film is the return of Germany as a great power, with Hitler as the ‘True German Leader’ who will bring glory to the nation.

‘Triumph des Willens’
The Triumph of the Will
Opening Title

‘Triumph des Willens’ was released in 1935 and rapidly became one of the best-known examples of propaganda in film history.
Riefenstahl’s techniques, such as moving cameras, the use of long focus lenses to create a distorted perspective, aerial photography, and revolutionary approach to the use of music and cinematography, have earned ‘Triumph des Willens’ recognition as one of the greatest films in history.
Riefenstahl won several awards, not only in Germany but also in the United States, France, Sweden, and other countries.
The film was popular in the Third Reich and elsewhere, and has continued to influence movies, documentaries, and commercials to this day.
Frank Capra’s seven-film series ‘Why We Fight’ is said to have been directly inspired by and America’s response to ‘Triumph des Willens’.

Leni Riefenstahl

‘Das Blaue Licht ‘(1932)
The Blue Light
Leni Riefenstahl

undefinedHelene Bertha Amalie “Leni” Riefenstahl (22 August 1902 – 8 September 2003) was a German film director, actress and dancer, widely noted for her aesthetics and innovations as a filmmaker.

Early Life

Riefenstahl was born on 22 August 1902.
She was christened Helene Bertha Amalie.
She was born into a prosperous family.
Her father owned a successful heating and ventilation company and he wanted her to follow him into the world of business, however, her mother believed that Leni’s future was in ‘show busines’.
In 1918, when she was 16, she started dance and ballet classes at the Grimm-Reiter Dance School in Berlin, where she quickly became a star pupil.

‘Der heilige Berg’  (1926)
The Holy Mountain
Leni Riefenstahl

Riefenstahl gained a reputation on Berlin’s dance circuit and she quickly moved into films.
She made a series of films for Arnold Fanck, and one of them, ‘The White Hell of Pitz Palu’ (1929), co-directed by G. W. Pabst, saw her fame spread to countries outside of Germany.
Riefenstahl produced and directed her own work called ‘Das Blaue Licht ‘(1932), co-written by Carl Mayer and Béla Balázs.
This film won the Silver Medal at the Venice Film Festival.
In the film, Riefenstahl played a peasant girl who protected a glowing mountain grotto.
The film attracted the attention of Hitler, who believed she epitomized the perfect German female.
After that, she became famous as an actress, a film director, a film producer and a film reporter.
She also became world-renowned as an actress in the films ‘Der heilige Berg’ (The Holy Mountain) (1926), ‘Der große Sprung’ (The Great Leap) (1927), ‘Die weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü’ (The White Hell of Piz Palü) (1929), ‘Stürme über dem Mont Blanc’ (Storms Over Mont Blanc) (1930), ‘Der weiße Rausch’ (The White Noise) (1931), ‘Das Blaue Licht’ (The Blue Light) (1932) and ‘SOS Eisberg’ (1933).

Her greatest success she made with the documentary film ‘Triumph des Willens’ (The Triumph of the Will) named after the Reich Party Congress 1934 in Nuremberg which got the highest awards:

‘Olympia – Fest der Schönheit’
Festival of Beauty
Leni Riefenstahl
‘Olympia – Fest der Schönheit’
Festival of Beauty
Leni Riefenstahl

The gold medal in Venice in 1935 and the gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937, however, at the end of the war this film destroyed Leni Riefenstahl’s career, for now it had no longer been recognized as a piece of art but been condemned as a National Socialist propaganda film.
Her world-famous film about the Olympic games was equally well received.
That film included two parts, part I ‘Fest der Völker’ (Festival of the Nations) and part 2 ‘Fest der Schönheit’ , (Festival of Beauty) and did also get the highest awards: the gold medal in Paris in 1937, the first price in Venice as the world’s best film in 1938, the Olympic Award by the IOC in 1939, and in 1956 it had been classified as one of the world’s best ten films.

Leni Riefenstahl and ‘Triumph des Willens’

Around the same time she first heard Hitler speak at a Nazi rally and, by her own admission, was impressed. She later began a correspondence with him that would last for years.
Hitler, by turn, was equally impressed with ‘Das Blaue Licht’, and in 1933 asked her to direct a film about the annual Nürnberg Rally.
The National Socialist Party had only recently taken power amid a period of political instability (Hitler was the fourth Chancellor of Germany in less than a year) and were considered an unknown quantity by many Germans, to say nothing of the world.
In ‘Mein Kampf’ Hitler talks of the success of British propaganda in World War I believing people’s ignorance meant simple repetition and an appeal to feelings over reason would suffice.
Hitler chose Riefenstahl as he wanted the film as “artistically satisfying” as possible to appeal to a non-political audience, but he also believed that propaganda must admit no element of doubt.
As such, ‘Triumph of the Will’ may be seen as a continuation of the unambiguous World War I-style propaganda, though heightened by the film’s artistic or poetic nature.
Riefenstahl was initially reluctant, not because of any moral qualms, but because she wanted to continue making feature films.
Hitler persisted, and Riefenstahl eventually agreed to make a film at the 1933 Nürnberg Rally called ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’ (Victory of Faith), however the film had numerous technical problems, including a lack of preparation (Riefenstahl reported having just a few days) and Hitler’s apparent unease at being filmed.
To make matters worse, Riefenstahl had to deal with infighting by party officials, in particular Joseph Goebbels who tried to have the film released by the Propaganda Ministry.
Though ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’ apparently did well at the box office, it later became a serious embarrassment after SA Leader Ernst Röhm, who had a prominent role in the film, was executed during the ‘Night of the Long Knives’.
In 1934, Riefenstahl had no wish to repeat the fiasco of ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’ and initially recommended fellow director Walter Ruttmann. Ruttmann’s film, which would have covered the rise of the Nazi Party from 1923 to 1934 and been more overtly propagandistic (the opening text of Triumph was his), did not appeal to Hitler.
He again asked Riefenstahl, who finally relented  after Hitler guaranteed his personal support, and promised to keep other Nazi organizations, specifically the Propaganda Ministry, from meddling with her film.

Production

The film follows a script similar to ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’, which is evident when one sees both films side by side.
For example, the city of Nürnberg scenes – even to the shot of a cat included in the city driving sequence in both films.
Furthermore, Herbert Windt reused much of his musical score for that film in ‘Triumph des Willens’, which he also scored, but unlike ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’, Riefenstahl shot Triumph with a large budget, extensive preparations, and vital help from high-ranking Nazis like Goebbels.
The Rally was planned not only as a spectacular mass meeting, but as a spectacular propaganda film.
Albert Speer, Hitler’s personal architect, designed the set in Nürnberg, and did most of the coordination for the event.

Leni Riefenstahl

Pits were dug in front of the speakers’ platform so Riefenstahl could get the camera angles she wanted, and tracks were laid so that her cameramen could get traveling shots of the crowd.
When rough cuts weren’t up to par, major party leaders and high-ranking public officials reenacted their speeches in a studio for her.
Riefenstahl also used a film crew that was extravagant by the standards of the day.
Her crew consisted of 172 people, including 10 technical staff, 36 cameramen and assistants (operating in 16 teams with 30 cameras), nine aerial photographers, 17 newsreel men, 12 newsreel crew, 17 lighting men, two photographers, 26 drivers, 37 security personnel, four labor service workers, and two office assistants.
Many of her cameramen also dressed in SA uniforms so they could blend into the crowds.
Riefenstahl had the difficult task of condensing an estimated 61 hours of film into two hours.
She labored to complete the film as fast as she could, going so far as to sleep in the editing room filled with hundreds of thousands of feet of film footage.

Themes

Nürnberg Frauenkirche

Triumph of the Will is sometimes seen as an example of Nazi political religion.
The primary religion in Germany before the Second World War was Christianity.
With the primary sects being Roman Catholic and Protestant, the Christian views in this movie are clearly meant to allow the movie to better connect with the intended audience.
Religion is a major theme in ‘Triumph’.
The film opens with Hitler descending ‘god-like’ out of the skies past twin cathedral spires.
It contains many scenes of church bells ringing, and individuals in a state of near-religious fervor.
It is probably not a coincidence that the final parade of the film was held in front of the Nürnberg Frauenkirche.

Adolf Hitler with the Blutfahne

In his final speech in the film, Hitler also directly compares the National Socialist Party to a holy order, and the consecration of new party flags by having Hitler touch them to the “blood banner” has obvious religious overtones.
Hitler himself is portrayed in a messianic manner, from the opening where he descends from the clouds in a plane, to his drive through Nuremberg, where even a cat stops what it is doing to watch him, to the many scenes where the camera films from below and looks up at him: Hitler, standing on his podium, will issue a command to hundreds of thousands of followers.
It was very important to Adolf Hitler that his propaganda messages carry a unified theme.
Unity is seen throughout this film, even in the camps where soldiers live.

Nürnberg Reichsparteitag
Nürnberg Reichsparteitag

The camp outside of Nuremberg is very uniform and clean; the tents are aligned in perfect rows, each one the same as the next.
The men there also make a point not to wear their shirts, because their shirts display their rankings and status.
Shirtless they are all equals, unified.
When they march, it is in unison and they all carry their weapons identically, one to another.
Hitler’s message to the workers also includes the notion of unity:

The concept of labor will no longer be a dividing one but a uniting one, and no longer will there be anybody in Germany who will regard manual labor any less highly than any other form of labor.

Adolf Hitler

‘Triumph’ has many scenes that blur the distinction between the Party, the German state, and the German people.
Germans in peasant farmers’ costumes and other traditional clothing greet Hitler in some scenes.
The torchlight processions would remind the viewer of the medieval Karneval celebration.
The old flag of Imperial Germany is also shown several times flying alongside the Swastika, and there is a ceremony where Hitler pays his respects to soldiers who died in World War I (as well as to President Paul von Hindenburg who had died a month before the convention).

Hitler’s Speeches

Adolf Hitler Speaking
Nürnberg Reichsparteitag
Adolf Hitler Speaking
Nürnberg Reichsparteitag

Among the themes presented, the desire for pride in Germany and the purification of the German people is well exemplified through the speeches and ideals of the Third Reich in ‘Triumph’.
In every speech given and shown in ‘Triumph’, pride is one of the major focuses.
Hitler advocates to the people that they should not be satisfied with their current state and they should not be satisfied with the descent from power and greatness Germany has endured since World War I.
The German people should believe in themselves and the movement that is occurring in Germany.
Hitler promotes pride in Germany through the unification of it.
To unify Germany, Hitler believes purification would have to take place.

Adolf Hitler Speaking
Nürnberg Reichsparteitag

Hitler preaches to the people in his speeches that they should believe in their country and themselves.
The German people are better than what they have become because of the impurities in society.
Hitler wants them to believe in him and believe what he wants to do for his people, and what he is doing is for the country’s and people’s benefit.

Hitler before his Final Speach
Nürnberg Reichsparteitag

In the closing speech of ‘Triumph of the Will’, Hitler enters the room from the back, appearing to emerge from the people.
After a one sentence introduction, he tells his faithful Nazis how the German nation has subordinated itself to the Party.

‘Triumph des Willens’
Final Scene

He promises that the new state that the Party has created will endure for thousands of years.
Hitler says that the youth will carry on after the old have weakened.
As the massed bands and choirs ring out the ‘Horst Wessel Lied’ the camera focuses on the large Swastika above Hitler and the film ends with the images of this Swastika imposed on party members marching in a columns.
His speech brought attention to the rally, and created a huge turnout in the following years.
He attracted many people in the way that he addressed the issues and his people.
He spoke to them as if it were a sermon and engaged the people.
In 1934, over a million Germans participated in the Nuremberg Rally.

__________________________________________


Hitler’s Speach to Political Leaders of the NSDAP
Nürnberg -1936

‘My party comrades! Men of the National Socialist movement!
We meet here for the fourth time. How this field has changed! So has our Reich! And so, we can say with even greater pride, has our people!
We have experienced in these four years the miracle of a resurrection of a defeated and demoralized and suppressed people. Today this people stands before us once more, restored in outlook and heart.
Each time we come to this city, we can look back on a year of work, but also on a year of accomplishments. Three years ago as we met the world was in motion. There may have been some who thought the wheel of history could be rolled back. A year later, two years ago, we had just taken steps necessary to preserve the strength of the movement. A year ago the dark clouds of enemy opposition hung over Germany, foreign rejection and threatening misunderstandings. Now we are here once more and all of us, you and I and the nation, know that the time of inner turmoil is as much behind us as is the time of external threats.
As we have come together here, so too today the German people has come together. As you have marched here in columns beneath your flags, my flag bearers, the German people are behind you! I have reminded the German people in my proclamation of the wonders of the past four years. We are reminded at this festival what has become of the German people.
What a spirit seized our people! How proud and manly it has once more become. It has overcome all the powers of destruction, collapse and dishonor, and has found once again the path to honor! Today we can again be proud of our people! This miracle that has renewed our people, my fighting comrades, is not a gift from heaven given to those unworthy of it.
Never has there been a movement that struggled with more fanatic, devoted, sacrificial commitment to national resurrection than we have shown in the past eighteen years!
We have fought for our people for the souls of millions, of our workers, our farmers, our citizens! We have fought as one fights only for the most priceless gift that this world has to offer. What have we given over these years in work, in sacrifice, in devotion, in fanaticism, in contempt of death! We were successful not only because I was your leader, but rather far more because you were my followers. 
We feel once more in this moment the miracle that brought us together! You heard once the voice of a man that moved your hearts, that awakened you, and you followed this voice. You followed for years without even seeing the bearer of the voice himself. You heard only the voice, and you followed.
The miracle of our coming together moves us all. Not all of you can see me, and I cannot see all of you. But I feel you, and you feel me! The belief in the greatness of our people has made us small people large, it has made us poor people rich, it has made wavering, cowardly, anxious men brave and courageous, the blind to see. It has brought us together!
You have come to this city from your small village, from your market towns, from your cities, from mines and factories, from behind the plow. You have come from your daily routine and from your labors for Germany to share this feeling: We are together, we are it and it is us, and we are now Germany!
It is splendid to know that we are gathered here as representatives of the German nation. Everyone knows: These 140,000 have but one thought and their heart, one longing, they all think the same. That is the source of our movement’s strength that has brought us through all that fate had to offer toward the goal for which we strive, and which is now in reach.
It is wonderful for me to be your Führer.
Who can be prouder of his followers than he who knows that they are moved by nothing but the purest idealism!
Who forced you to follow me? What could I offer you, what could I gave you? We together agreed on one thing: on the struggle for a great shared idea! We grew in size and strength until we were the victors.
For years I could greet you only as my fighting comrades. Today I greet you as victors. You have built a new home for our people, and have given those who dwell in that house a new spirit and new meaning. All those who may think that they can shake this state, or even bring it to collapse, should take note. They should not deceive themselves! If our old enemies and opponents should seek to attack us once more, our battle flags will fly high and they will learn respect for us! 
They will have to learn that Germany is no place for them.
We had no prayer but this during our long years of struggle: Lord, give our people peace at home and abroad! Our generation has experienced so much that it is understandable why we long for peace. We want to work, to build our Reich, to build it according to our ideas and not those of the Bolshevist Jews.
We want to work for the future of the children of our people, for a future that will not only be safe for them, but easier as well. We have so much behind us that we have only one request for a gracious and good Providence: “Spare our children that which we have gone through!”
We desire nothing but peace and quiet in which to do our work. May others have the same wish, for we have not hesitated to give up our rest when it was necessary to deal with internal troublemakers. We have not aged during our struggle. We are as young as ever. What the years added our idealism subtracted.
With and behind our flags march our new youth.
We are happy and proud to see them. A new generation of leaders is maturing. What fate’s hard process of selection graciously granted us, that we want to guarantee for the future through our own tough selection.
To be a National Socialist is to be a man, it is to be a fighter, it is to be brave and courageous and sacrificial. We will be that for all eternity!
In this fourth Reich Party Rally since the seizure of power we can look calmly to the future. We are not careless and foolish. History has given us hard lessons. But we are calm and self confident. I am so when I see you. I know that there is a unique movement behind me, a wonderful organization of men and women. I see before me endless columns of the flags of our new Reich. I make this prophecy to you:
This Reich has the first days of its youth behind it. It will grow in the coming centuries, becoming strong and powerful! These flags will be borne by ever new generations of our people. Germany is healthy once more! Our people is reborn!
I greet you, my old fighting comrades, my flag bearers, my standard bearers of a new history, and I greet you and thank you for all the loyalty and faith that you have given me over the long years.
I greet you as the hope of the present and the guarantee of our future.
And I especially greet the youth who are present. Become men like those you see before you!
Fight as they have fought! Be upright and determined, fear no one and do your duty!
If you do so, the Lord God will never leave our people.

Heil Germany !’

Adolf Hitler

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Deutsch Kultur im Dritten Reich – German Culture in the Third

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
DEUTSCH KULTUR IM DRITTEN REICH
(German Culture in the Third Reich)

Diana’s Rest – Saliger

The art of the Third Reich, the visual art produced in Germany between 1933 and 1945, was characterized by a style of Romantic realism (heroic realism) based on classical models.

While banning modern styles as degenerate, paintings and sculptures that were promoted that were academic in manner, and exalted values of formalised beauty, community (Volksgemeinschaft), nationalism and racial purity.

 Der Fuehrer Spricht
Paul Matthias Padua

Other popular themes for the art of the Third Reich were the ‘Volk’ at work, a return to the simple virtues of Heimat (love of homeland), the manly virtues of the National Socialist struggle, and the lauding of the female activities of child bearing and raising, symbolized by the phrase Kinder, Küche, Kirche (“children, kitchen, church”).

Female Nude
Ivo Saliger

Ivo Saliger 1894-1987  moved to Vienna in 1908 at the same time as Adolf Hitler but unlike Hitler he studied painting and etching techniques at the Academy of Vienna, under some of Austria’s finest artists such as Ferdinand Schmutzer. In 1920 Saliger assumed the post of professor of art at the Academy. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, Ivo Saliger developed strong Art Deco elements within his art. Saliger’s paintings were frequently exhibited at the ‘Great German Art Exhibition’ held annually in Munich between 1937 and1944.


Similarly, music was expected to be formally structured and tonal, and free of Negroid jazz influence.
Films and plays were equally expected to portray the values of community (Volksgemeinschaft), nationalism racial purity.

Architecture for official, public buildings was monumental, and executed in a simplified classical idiom, while domestic architecture took it’s inspiration from völkisch forms and styles.

Contemporary Bauhaus styles, however, were used for buildings related to industry and technology.

Bäuerliche Venus, 1939
Sepp Hilz


‘Bauernfamilie’ – (Peasant Family)
Adolf Wissel

Among the well-known artists endorsed by the Third Reich were the sculptors Josef Thorak and Arno Breker, and painters Werner Peiner, Adolf Wissel and Conrad Hommel.

During the Third Reich artists, sculptors, architects, writers and designers with Jewish ancestry were forbidden to contribute work to the Volksgemeinschaft.
The rationale for this was to be found in the National Socialist’s racial philosophy.
According to this philosophy the Jewish people, with all its apparent intellectual qualities, was nevertheless without any true culture, especially without a culture of its own, for the sham culture which the Jew possessed  was the property of other peoples, and was mostly spoiled in Jewish hands.

When judging Jewry in its attitude toward the question of human culture, the National Socialists maintained that one has to keep before one’s eyes, as an essential characteristic, that there never has been Jewish art and, that above all, the two paragons of all the arts, architecture and music, owe nothing original to Jewry.
This philosophy stated that whatever the Jew achieves in the fields of art is either bowdlerization, or intellectual theft, because the Jews lack those qualities which distinguish creativity.
Adolf Hitler saw Greek and Roman art as uncontaminated by Jewish influences.
Modern art was seen as an act of aesthetic violence by the Jews against the German spirit (Deutsch Geistes).


Entartete Kunst 
Entartete Kunst Exhibition

The Jewish nature of art that was indecipherable, distorted, or that represented “depraved” subject matter was explained through the concept of degeneracy (Entartung), which held that distorted and corrupted art was a symptom of an inferior race.

By propagating the theory of degeneracy, the National Socialist racial philosophy combined  anti-Semitism with a drive to control culture, thus consolidating public support for both campaigns.
Their efforts in this regard were unquestionably aided by a popular hostility to Modernism that pre-dated their the establishment of the Third Reich.
The view that such art had reflected Germany’s condition and moral bankruptcy was widespread, and it was believed that many artists acted in a manner to overtly undermine or challenge popular values and morality.
Max Nordau
The term Entartung (or “degeneracy”) gained popularity in Germany by the late 19th century when the critic and author Max Nordau devised the theory presented in his 1892 book, ‘Entartung’.
Nordau developed a critique of modern art, which he explained as the work of those so corrupted and enfeebled by modern life that they have lost the self-control needed to produce coherent works.
Explaining the unfinished nature of Impressionism as the sign of degeneracy, he decried modern art, while praising traditional German culture (traditionellen Deutsch Kultur).
This theory of artistic degeneracy was seized upon by German National Socialists during the Weimar Republic as a rallying point for their demand for Aryan purity in art.
This view of art was grounded in a belief in a Germanic spirit (germanischen Geistes), defined as mystical, rural, moral, and bearing ancient wisdom,  – noble in the face of a tragic destiny, and existing long before the rise of the National Socialism.
Richard Wagner celebrated such ideas in his works.


Nietzsche Gedächtnishalle
Paul Schultze-Naumburg
Beginning before World War I, the well-known German architect and painter Paul Schultze-Naumburg’s influential writings, which invoked racial theories in condemning modern art and architecture, supplied much of the basis for Adolf Hitler’s belief that classical Greece and the Middle Ages were the true sources of Aryan art.


Schloss Freudenbern
Paul Schultze-Naumbur

Paul Schultze-Naumburg (10 June 1869 – 19 May 1949) was a German architect and one of the Third Reich’s most vocal political critics of modern architecture. Along with Alexander von Senger, Eugen Honig, Konrad Nonn, and German Bestelmeyer, Schultze-Naumburg was a member of a National Socialist group known as the Kampfbund deutscher Architekten und Ingenieure (KDAI). Schultze-Naumburg wrote ‘Kunstund Rasse’ (“Art and Race”), which was published in 1928

In September 1933 the Reichskulturkammer (RKK – Reich Culture Chamber) was established, with Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s ‘Reichminister für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda’ (Reich Minister for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment) in charge.
Sub-chambers within the Culture Chamber, representing the individual arts (music, film, literature, architecture, and the visual arts) were created; these were membership groups consisting of artists supportive of the Party.
In the same year Hitler made a speach in which he defined the true nature of German Art.

Emblem of the Reichskulturkammer
 Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

‘Germany wants again a “German Art,” and this art shall and will be of eternal value, as are all truly creative values of a people.

Should this art, however, again lack this eternal value for our people, then indeed it will mean that it also has no higher value today
When, therefore, the cornerstone of this building was laid, it was with the intention of constructing a temple, not for a so-called modern art, but for a true and everlasting German art, that is, better still, a House for the art of the German people.
It is therefore imperative for the artist to erect monuments, not so much to a period, but to his people.
For time is changeable, years come and go.
Anything born of and thriving on a certain epoch alone would perish with it.
And not only all which had been created before us would fall victim to this mortality, but also what is being created today or will be created in the future.
But the National-Socialists know of only one mortality, and that is the mortality of the people itself:
As long as a people exists, however, it is the fixed pole in the flight of fleeting appearances.
It is the quality of being and lasting permanence.
And, indeed, for this reason, art as an expression of the essence of this being, is an eternal monument.’
Adolf Hitler 1933


 Reichskulturkammer
 Reichskulturkammer
(RKK – Reich Culture Chamber)

Goebbels also spoke on the subject  and defined the nature of the  Reichskulturkammer :
In future only those who are members of a chamber are allowed to be productive in our cultural life. Membership is open only to those who fulfill the entrance condition. In this way all unwanted and damaging elements have been excluded.”


By 1935 the Reich Culture Chamber had 100,000 members.
Degenerate artworks were purged from German museums.


Entartete Kunst Exhibition
 Haus der deutschen Kunst

These became the material for a defamatory exhibit, ‘Entartete Kunst’ (“Degenerate Art”), featuring over 650 paintings, sculptures, prints, and books from the collections of thirty two German museums, that premiered in Munich on July 19, 1937 and remained on view until November 30 before travelling to eleven other cities in Germany and Austria.

Coinciding with the ‘Entartete Kunst’ exhibition, the ‘Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung’ (Great German art exhibition) made its premier amid much pageantry.
This exhibition, held at the palatial Haus der deutschen Kunst (House of German Art), displayed the work of officially approved artists such as Arno Breker and Adolf Wissel.


CLASSICAL MUSIC IN THE THIRD REICH

Richard Wagner
Hans Pfitzner
At the establishment of the Third Reich in 1933, the musical establishment was re-ordered to accomodate National Socialist ideology. 
Richard Wagner and Hans Pfitzner were notable pre-existing composers who conceptualized a united order (Volksgemeinschaft) where music was an index of the German community.
In a time of disintegration, Wagner and Pfitzner wanted to revitalize the country through music.

Hans Erich Pfitzner (5 May 1869 – 22 May 1949) was a German composer and self-described anti-modernist. His own music – including pieces in all the major genres except the symphonic poem – was respected by contemporaries such as Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. Pfitzner’s works combine Romantic and Late Romantic elements with extended thematic development, atmospheric music drama, and the intimacy of chamber music. His greatest work of the period was the romantische Kantate ‘Von deutscher Seele’ (Of the German Soul) (1921).

Arnold Schonberg 
A book written about Hans Pfitzner and Wagner, published in Regseneberg in 1939, followed not only the birth of contemporary musical parties, but also of political parties in Germany.
The Wagner-Pfitzner stance contrasted ideas of other notable artists – Arnold Schonberg and Theodor W. Adorno – who wanted music to be autonomous from politics.
Hitler and Winifred Wagner
Although Wagner and Pfitzner came before the Third Reich, their sentiments and thoughts, Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk, were aproved of by Hitler and Joseph Goebbels.


Wagner was an extremely prolific writer, authoring hundreds of books, poems, and articles,  throughout his life. His writings covered a wide range of topics, including politics, philosophy, and detailed analyses of his own operas. Essays of note include “Art and Revolution” (1849), “Opera and Drama” (1851), an essay on the theory of opera. One of his most significant writings is “Das Judenthum in der Musik” (“Jewishness in Music”, 1850), a polemic directed against Jewish composers in general, and Giacomo Meyerbeer in particular.

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Hitler at Bayreuth 
Bayreuth – Festspeilhaus

The very emphasis on rootedness and on tradition underscored the National Socialist understanding of itself in a dialectic terms: old gods were mobilized against the false values of the immediate past to offer legitimacy to the epiphany of Adolf Hitler and the music representation of his realm.

Composers, librettists, educators, critics, and especially musicologists, through their public statements, intellectual writings, and journals contributed to the justification of a national Socialist view of musical culture.
Certain progressive journalism, pertaining to modern music, was purged.
Journals that had been sympathetic to the ‘German viewpoint,’ entrenched in Wagnerian ideals, like the ‘Zeischrift fur Musik’ and ‘Die Muzik’, showed confidence in the new regime and affirmed the process of intertwining government policies with music.


Dr. Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels used the ‘Volkscher Beobatcher’, a journal that was disseminated to the general public in addition to elites and party officials, as an organ of Reich Culture.
By the end of the 1930s the ‘Mitteilungen der Reichsmusikkammer’ became another prominent journal that reflected the music policy, organizational and personnel changes in musical institutions.
In the early years of the Third Reich, the musicologists and musicians redirected the orientation of music, defining what was ‘German Music’ and what was not.
National Socialist ideology was applied to the evaluation of musicians.
Musicians defined in the new German musical era were given new status, while their accomplishments and deeds were seen as direct accomplishments of the Third Reich.
Ludwig van Beethoven
The contribution of German musicologists led to the justification of Third Reich, and a ‘neue deutsche Musikkultur’ – (new German musical culture).
They defined the greater German values that musicians would have to identify with, because their duty was to integrate music and National Socialism so that they became inseparable.
Highly favoured was music which alluded to a mythic, heroic German past such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven and Richard Wagner.
Adolf Hitler honours Bruckner

Anton Bruckner was highly favoured, as his music was regarded as an expression of the zeitgeist of the German volk. 

The music of Arnold Schoenberg (and atonal music along with it), Felix Mendelssohn and many others was no longer played, because they were Jewish or of Jewish origin.
Music by non-German composers was tolerated if it was classically inspired, tonal, and not by a composer of Jewish origin or having ties to ideologies hostile to the Third Reich.


Richard Strauss
The Nazis recognized Franz Liszt and Frédéric Chopin for having German origins.
Music of the Russian Peter Tchaikovsky could be performed in the Third Reich, even after Operation Barbarossa.
Operas by Gioacchino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini got frequent play.
Richard Strauss, probably the greates living German composer, served as the first director of the Propaganda Ministry’s music division, and Carl Orff produced much work during the Third Reich.

Carl Orff 

Carl Orff (July 10, 1895 – March 29, 1982) was a 20th-century German composer, best known for his cantata Carmina Burana (1937).
His Carmina Burana was hugely popular in the Third Reich after its premiere in Frankfurt in 1937.
In addition to his career as a composer, Orff developed an influential approach of music education for children.
Richard Georg Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras.
He is known for his operas, which include ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ and ‘Salome’; his lieder, especially his ‘Four Last Songs’; and his tone poems and other orchestral works, such as ‘Death and Transfiguration’, ‘Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks’, ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’, ‘An Alpine Symphony’, and ‘Metamorphosen’.
Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria.

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SCULPTURE

Josef Thorak – Male Nude
Arno Breker – Male Nude

Sculpture’s monumental possibilities gave it a special status in the expression of National Socialist racial theories.

The ‘Greater German Art Exhibition’ displayed, throughout the period of the Third Reich, a steady rise in the number of sculptures at the expense of paintings.
The most common image was of the heroic nude male, expressing the ideal of the Aryan race.
Arno Breker’s skill at this type of sculpture made him Hitler’s favourite sculptor.
Nude females were also common, though they tended to be less monumental.
In both cases, the physical form was to show no imperfections.
Josef Thorak was another official sculptor of the Third Reich owing to his skill at monumental sculpture.

ARNO BREKER

Arno Breker (July 19, 1900 – February 13, 1991) was a German sculptor, best known for his public works in Germany, which were the antithesis of “degenerate art”.

Breker was born in Elberfeld, in the west of Germany, the son of a stonemason.
He began to study architecture, along with stone-carving and anatomy, and at age 20 was accepted to the Düsseldorf Academy of Arts where he concentrated on sculpture.
He first visited Paris in 1924, shortly before finishing his studies.
In 1932, he was awarded a prize by the Prussian Ministry of Culture, which allowed him to stay in Rome for a year.

In 1934 he returned to Germany on the advice of Max Liebermann.
Breker was supported by many Nazi leaders, especially Adolf Hitler.

Even Rosenberg later hailed his sculptures as expressions of the “mighty momentum and will power” (“Wucht und Willenhaftigkeit”) of Nazi Germany.
He took commissions from the German Government from 1933 through 1942, for example participating in a show of his work in occupied Paris in 1942, where he met Jean Cocteau, who appreciated his work.
He maintained personal relationships with Albert Speer and with Hitler.

In 1936 he won the commission for two sculptures representing athletic prowess, intended for the 1936 Olympic games, one representing a “Zehnkämpfer” (The Decathlete) and the other “Die Siegerin” (‘The Victress’).
In 1937 Breker joined the Nazi Party and was made “official state sculptor” by Hitler, given a large property and provided a studio with thousand assistants.
Hitler also exempted him from military service.
His twin sculptures ‘Die Partei’ (‘The Party’) and ‘Das Heer (‘The Army’) held a prominent position at the entrance to Albert Speer’s Neuen Reichskanzlei (new Reich Chancellery).

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POPULAR MUSIC




Germany’s urban centres in the 1920s and 30s were buzzing with jazz clubs, cabaret houses and avant garde music.

In contrast, the National Socialist regime made concentrated efforts to shun modern music (which was considered degenerate and Jewish in nature) and instead embraced classical “German” music.






VÖLKISCH JAZZ

‘Pieces in foxtrot rhythm (so-called swing) are not to exceed 20% of the repertoires of light orchestras and dance bands;
In this so-called jazz type repertoire, preference is to be given to compositions in a major key and to lyrics expressing joy in life rather than Jewishly gloomy lyrics;
As to tempo, preference is also to be given to brisk compositions over slow ones so-called blues); however, the pace must not exceed a certain degree of allegro, commensurate with the Aryan sense of discipline and moderation.
On no account will Negroid excesses in tempo (so-called hot jazz) or in solo performances (so-called breaks) be tolerated;
So-called jazz compositions may contain at most 10% syncopation; the remainder must consist of a natural legato movement devoid of the hysterical rhythmic reverses characteristic of the barbarian races and conductive to dark instincts alien to the German people (so-called riffs);
Strictly prohibited is the use of instruments alien to the German spirit (so-called cowbells, flexatone, brushes, etc.) as well as all mutes which turn the noble sound of wind and brass instruments into a yowl (so-called wa-wa, hat, etc.);
Also prohibited are so-called drum breaks longer than half a bar in four-quarter beat (except in stylized military marches);
The double bass must be played solely with the bow in so-called jazz compositions;
Plucking of the strings is prohibited, since it is damaging to the instrument and detrimental to Aryan musicality; if a so-called pizzicato effect is absolutely desirable for the character of the composition, strict care must be taken lest the string be allowed to patter on the sordine, which is henceforth forbidden;
Musicians are likewise forbidden to make vocal improvisations (so-called scat);
All light orchestras and dance bands are advised to restrict the use of saxophones of all keys and to substitute for them the violin-cello, the viola or possibly a suitable folk instrument.’

Baldur von Blodheim
Reichsmusicfuhrer und Oberscharfuhrer SS

GRAPHIC DESIGN

Volksgemeinschaft
Reichsarbeitsdienst

The poster became an important medium for propaganda during this period.

Combining text and bold graphics, posters were extensively deployed both in Germany and in the areas occupied.
Their typography reflected National Socialist official ideology.
Imagery frequently drew on heroic realism.
Hitler Youth and the SS were depicted monumentally, with lighting posed to produce grandeur.





ARCHITECTURE

Reichsparteitagsgelände
Albert Speer

Adolf Hitler was an admirer of ancient Greece and imperial Rome, and believed that some ancient Germans had, over time, become part of its social fabric and exerted influence on it.

He considered the Romans an early Aryan empire, and emulated their architecture in an original style inspired by both neoclassicism and Art Deco, sometimes known as “severe” Deco.
He also ordered construction of a type of Altar of Victory, borrowed from the Greeks, who were, according to National Socialist ideology, inseminated with the seed of the Aryan peoples.
The National Socialists believed that architecture played a key role in creating their new order.
Architecture had a special importance to the politicians who sought to influence all aspects of human life.
Volkisch Domestic Architecture

Moreover, not only major cities but also small villages were to express the achievement and the nature of the German people.

It seemed as though the basic design of commonly practised architecture at the time was to be either left in place or modified within Germany’s dominion.
The new building style may have been intended to give the idea to the rest of the world and to the unconverted Germans that the era of the thousand-year Reich had, in fact, dawned.
Hitler was quite fond of the numerous theatres built by Hermann and Ferdinand Fellner, who built in the late baroque style.

Law Courts of Brussels 
Paris Opera

In addition, he appreciated the stricter architects of the 19th century such as Gottfried Semper, who built the Dresden Opera House, the Picture Gallery in Dresden, the court museums in Vienna, and Theophil Freiherr von Hansen, who designed several buildings in Athens in 1840.

He was also enthusiastic about the Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opera, and the Law Courts of Brussels by the architect Poelaert.
Ultimately, he was always drawn back to inflated neo-baroque such as Kaiser Wilhelm II had fostered, through his court architect Ernst von Ihne.

Reichsparteitagsgelände
Albert Speer
Dietrich Eckart Bühne

Hitler later appreciated the permanent qualities of the classical style as it had a relationship between the Dorians and his own Germanic world.

The neoclassical style was primarily used for urban state buildings or party buildings such as the Zeppelin Field in Nuremberg, the planned Volkshalle for Berlin and the Dietrich Eckart Bühne in Berlin.

Ordensburg Sonthofen

The völkish style was primarily used in rural settings for accommodation or community structures like the Ordensburg in Krössinsee, Ordensburg Vogelsang in North Rhine-Westphalia and Ordensburg Krössinsee in Pomerania.

Ordensburg Vogelsang

Ordensburgen were four schools developed for the National Socialist elite. There were strict requirements for admission to the school. Junker candidates had to be aged between 25 and 30 years old, belong to either the NSDAP, the Hitler Youth, the Sturmabteilung, or the Schutzstaffel, be physically completely healthy, and be pure-blooded with no hereditary defects. The schools themselves were typically völkish style buildings with extensive facilities. Vogelsang, for instance, reportedly contained the world’s largest gymnasium at the time. Each student attended all four institutions in sequence, for specialty training, finishing in Marienburg.

It was also to be applied to rural new towns as it represented a mythical medieval time when Germany was free of foreign and cosmopolitan influences.
This style was also used in a limited way for buildings with modern uses like weather service broadcasting and the administration building for the federal post office.

 Reichsautobahn 1936

National Socialism is often viewed as anti-modern and romantic, or having a pragmatic willingness to use modern means in pursuit of anti-modern purposes.

This confuses the Nazi dislike of certain styles like the Bauhaus with a blanket dislike of all modern styles.
This was based mainly on what the Bauhaus and others were seen as representing, like foreign influences or the decadence of the Weimar Republic.
The lack of any human scale details or plain exteriors may have produced an overwhelming effect, but this style was common from the 1910s onwards.

By 1936, 130,000 workers were directly employed in the construction of autobahns, as well as an additional 270,000 in the supply chain for construction equipment, steel, concrete, sign-age  maintenance equipment, etc. In rural areas, new camps to house the workers were built near construction sites. The job creation program aspect was not especially important because full employment was almost reached by 1936. The autobahns were not primarily intended as major infrastructure improvement of special value to the military as often stated because they were of no military value as all major military transports in Germany were done by train to save fuel.

This modern approach was not limited to the neo-classical buildings for city centres, but was also used for völkisch buildings like Ordensburgs and Autobahn garages.
The National Socialists chose new versions of past styles for most of their architecture.
This should not be viewed simply as an attempt to reconstruct the past, but rather an effort to use aspects of the past to create a new present.
Most buildings are ‘copied’ in some form or other, but for the Nazis, copying the past not only linked them to the past in general but also specifically to an Aryan past.
Neo-classical architecture was a direct representation of Aryan culture.
Völkish architecture was also Aryan but of a Germanic nature.
Still, these analogues were not part of an attempt to recreate an actual past, but were meant to emphasize the importance of Aryan culture as a justification for the actions of the present.
While Hitler saw the architecture of the Weimar Republic as an object lesson in cultural decline, the new buildings he would build would teach a different lesson, that of national rebirth.

PAUL TROOST

The first major architect of the Third Reich, and one of the greatest architects of the 20th Century, was Paul Ludwig Troost (17 August 1878 – 21 January 1934).

Troost born in Elberfeld in Westfalen.  An extremely tall, spare-looking, reserved individual with a close-shaven head, Troost belonged to a school of architects, Peter Behrens and Walter Gropius who, even before 1914, reacted sharply against the highly ornamental Jugendstil and advocated a restrained, lean architectural approach, almost devoid of ornament.

Hitler and Troost

In 1933 he became Hitler’s foremost architect ,whose neo-classical style became for a time the official architecture of the Third Reich.

His work filled Hitler with enthusiasm, and he planned and built state and municipal edifices throughout Germany.
In the autumn of 1933, he was commissioned to rebuild and refurnish the Chancellery residence in Berlin.

Along with other architects, Troost planned and built State and municipal edifices throughout the country, including new administrative offices, social buildings for workers and bridges across the main highways.

Ehrentempel at Dusk

One of the many structures he planned before his death was the Haus der deutschen Kunst (House of German Art) in Munich, intended to be a great temple for a “true, eternal art of the German people”.
It was a good example of the classical forms in monumental public buildings during the Third Reich, though subsequently Hitler moved away from the more restrained style of Troost, reverting to a more ornate style.
Hitler’s relationship to Troost was that of a pupil to an admired teacher.
According to Albert Speer, who later became Hitler’s favorite architect, the Führer would impatiently greet Troost with the words: “I can’t wait, Herr Professor. Is there anything new? Let’s see it !” Troost would then lay out his latest plans and sketches.
Hitler frequently declared, according to Speer, that “he first learned what architecture was from Troost”‘.

Hitler at the Grave of
Paul Troost

Paul Ludwig Troost
1878 – 1934
The architect’s death on 21 January 1934, was a painful blow, but Hitler remained close to his widow Gerdy Troost, whose architectural taste frequently coincided with his own, which made her (in Speer’s words) “a kind of arbiter of art in Munich.

Troost was buried in the “Nordfriedhof” Cemetery (North Cemetery) in Munich.
The gravestone still survives although the family name has been removed.
Hitler posthumously awarded Troost the German National Prize for Art and Science in 1936.
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ALBERT SPEER

Albert Speer (born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer – March 19, 1905 – September 1, 1981) was a German architect.

As a young man Speer  followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and studied architecture.

Speer as a Student
Heinrich Tessenow 
Speer began his architectural studies at the University of Karlsruhe.
In 1924 he transferred to the “much more reputable” Technical University of Munich.
In 1925 he transferred again, this time to the Technical University of Berlin where he studied under Heinrich Tessenow, whom Speer greatly admired.

Heinrich Tessenow (April 7, 1876 – November 1, 1950) was a German architect, professor, and urban planner. He was born in Rostock, Mecklenburg-Schwerin. 
His father was a carpenter, and he studied as an apprentice before studying architecture in a building trade school in Leipzig and at the Technical University of Munich, where he later taught.

Magdeburg Hindenburg-Gedenkalle
(Fahnenhalle) – 1937 – 39
Festspielhaus Hellerau – Dresden

Tessenow taught at the Institute of Technology in Berlin-Charlottenburg from 1926 until 1934. Tessenow is also known through his student, and one-time assistant, the Reichsarchitect Albert Speer. Tessenow taught Speer in 1925 and became Tessenow’s assistant in 1927 at the age of 23. Speer’s memoirs describe Tessenow’s personal, discursive, informal teaching style, and his preference for architecture that expressed national culture and simplified forms. He was known for the saying, “The simplest form is not always the best, but the best is always simple.


After passing his exams in 1927, Speer became Tessenow’s assistant, a high honor for a man of 22.[11] As such, Speer taught some of Tessenow’s classes while continuing his own postgraduate studies.
Hitler mit Albert Speer

In Munich, and continuing in Berlin, Speer began a close friendship, ultimately spanning over 50 years, with Rudolf Wolters, who also studied under Tessenow.
Hitler spoke of Speer as a “kindred spirit” for whom he had always maintained “the warmest human feelings“.
The young, ambitious architect was dazzled by his rapid rise and close proximity to Hitler, which guaranteed him a flood of commissions from the government and from the highest ranks of the Party.

Zepplinfeld Stadium 

When Troost died on January 21, 1934, Speer effectively replaced him as the Party’s chief architect. Hitler appointed Speer as head of the Chief Office for Construction.

One of Speer’s first commissions after Troost’s death was the Zeppelinfeld stadium—the Nürnberg parade grounds seen in Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda masterpiece Triumph of the Will. This huge work was capable of holding 340,000 people.

Germania

The tribune was influenced by the Pergamon Altar in Anatolia, but was magnified to an enormous scale.
Hitler ordered Speer to make plans to rebuild Berlin.
The plans centered on a three-mile long grand boulevard running from north to south, which Speer called the Prachtstrasse, or Street of Magnificence; he also referred to it as the “North-South Axis”.
At the north end of the boulevard, Speer planned to build the Volkshalle, a huge assembly hall with a dome which would have been over 700 feet (210 m) high, with floor space for 180,000 people.
At the southern end of the avenue would be a huge triumphal arch; it would be almost 400 feet (120 m) high.

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Sculpture and Architecture

Olympic Stadium
Monumental Reich Adler

Sculpture was used as part of, and in conjunction with, National Socialist architecture to embody the “German Spirit” of divine destiny.
Sculpture expressed the National Socialist obsession with the ideal body, and espoused nationalistic, state approved values like loyalty, work, and family.
Josef Thorak and Arno Breker were the most famous sculptors of the Third Reich.
Arno Breker was nominated as official state sculptor on Hitler’s birthday in 1937.
His technique was excellent, and his choice of subject, poses, and themes were outstanding. Breker uses his numerous “heroic male nudes” to unite the notions of health, strength, competition, collective action and willingness to sacrifice the self for the common good.


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Der Körperkultur im Dritten Reich


Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen


Kultur, in the Third Reich was not just a matter of the ‘academic and applied arts’ – National Socialism was also concerned with ‘physical culture’ – after all, the sculptors and artists needed to model from life.

On a deeper level National Socialism believed that physical beauty and physical perfection was concomitant with an ‘enobled (veredelte Seele) spirituality’.
‘Veredelte Seele’ was believed to be a condition exclusively attained by the Aryan race – and counld not be achieved by non Aryans, and particularly the Jewish race.
The Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen (NSRL) (National Socialist League of the Reich for Physical Exercise), known as Deutscher Reichsbund für Leibesübungen (DRL) until 1938, was the umbrella organization for sports during the Third Reich.
The NSRL was led by the Reichssportführer, who after 1934 was at the same time presiding over the German National Olympic Committee.
The NSRL’s leaders were Hans von Tschammer und Osten (1933–1943), Arno Breitmeyer (1943–1944) and Karl Ritter von Halt (1944–1945).
Sports Organizations Prior to the Third Reich
The 1916 Summer Olympics had been awarded to Berlin, but were cancelled because of the  World War I. 
The Deutscher Reichsausschuss für Olympische Spiele (DRA or DRAfOS) “German Imperial Commission for Olympic Games”, was the German Olympic Sports organization at that time.
In 1917 the “German Imperial Commission for Olympic Games” was renamed Deutscher Reichsausschuss für Leibesübungen (DRA), (sometimes also DRL or, more rarely, DRAfL) (“German Imperial Commission for Physical Exercise”).
The name change reflected Germany’s protest against the fact that Germany and other Central Powers were being excluded from the “Olympic family” which was dominated by the Entente Powers – an interesting example of the corruption of sport by politics.

Carl Diem

The Deutscher Reichsausschuss für Leibesübungen was led by Theodor Lewald and Carl Diem was its Secretary General.

Even though it saw itself as the pan-German umbrella organization for sports, the fact is that it did not represent all types of sports and sports associations of Germany.
A great number of sport clubs, especially those stemming from industrial workers’ background, had not joined the DRA.
After the ‘Enabling Act’ which legally gave Hitler dictatorial control of Germany in March 1933, all sports organizations connected to the Social Democratic Party, the Communist Party, and  the church, were banned.
This ban affected especially the sports clubs of industrial workers, most of which were called to split up on their own (Selbstauflösung) before the first semester of 1933 was over.
The more conservative nationalistic and bourgeois clubs were allowed to subsist into the following year.
Hans von Tschammer und Osten

In April 1933, Hans von Tschammer und Osten was named Reichskommissar für Turnen und Sport (Commissioner for Gymnastics and Sports of the Reich).

Von Tschammer, however, would keep his predecessor in a high position in the sports body, and years later he would appoint Theodor Lewald as president of the ‘Organizing Committee of the Berlin Olympic Games’.
Hans von Tschammer und Osten was an aristocratic SA group leader.
In the name of ‘gleichschaltung’ he disbanded the Deutscher Reichsausschuss für Leibesübungen on May 5, 1933 (officially on May 10).
Gleichschaltung, meaning “coordination”, “making the same”, “bringing into line”, is a term for the process by which the Third Reich successively established a system of control and tight coordination over all aspects of society.
Von Tschammer was then elevated to Reichssportführer on July 19 and the whole sports sphere in Germany was placed under his power.
Sports and propaganda in Nazi Germany: The Aryan ideal
The Deutscher Reichsbund für Leibesübungen (DRL) was established on July 27, 1934 as the official Sports governing body of the Third Reich.
It would quickly become a formidable system within the German nation.
After the DRL’s foundation all other German sport associations gradually lost their freedom and were coopted into the DRL as units (“Fachämter”).
Even the most prestigious ones, like the ‘German Football Association’ (DFB) were incorperated .
Hans von Tschammer und Osten

Von Tschammer’s goal was to build a formidable sports body in which all German sports associations would be involved.

His vision was that physical exercise would “improve the morale and productivity of German workers” as well as making sports a source of national pride for the Germans.
Sporting skills were made a criterion for school graduation, as well as a necessary qualification for certain jobs and admission to universities.
In 1935 journalist Guido von Mengden, was named public relations officer of the ‘Reich Sports Office’.
He became the personal advisor and consultant of the Reichssportführer in 1936.
Von Mengden became the chief editor of NS-Sport, the official organ of the Reich Sports Office.
Other DRL/NSRL publications included ‘Dietwart’, a sports magazine with excellent illustrations and ‘Sport und Staat’ (Sports and State), a massive four-volume report on the organized sports activities in the Third Reich.
Sport und Staat was made by Arno Breitmeyer and Hitler’s personal photographer Heinrich Hoffmann.
This lavishly illustrated work had many pictures and information about the various Nazi organizations, i.e. SA, NSKK, Bund Deutscher Mädel, Hitler Jugend, etc.
The aims of the promotion of sports in the Third Reich included strengthening the spirit of every German, as well as making German citizens feel that they were part of a wider national purpose.
This was in line with the ideals of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, the “Father of physical exercises“, who connected the steeling of one’s own body to a healthy spirit and promoted the idea of a unified, strong Germany.

Friedrich Ludwig Jahn

Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (August 11, 1778 – October 15, 1852) was a German gymnastics educator and nationalist. He is commonly known as Turnvater Jahn, roughly meaning “father of gymnastics”.
Brooding upon what he saw as the humiliation of his native land by Napoleon, Jahn conceived the idea of restoring the spirits of his countrymen by the development of their physical and moral powers through the practice of gymnastics. The first Turnplatz, or open-air gymnasium, was opened by Jahn in Berlin in 1811, and the Turnverein (gymnastics association) movement spread rapidly. Young gymnasts were taught to regard themselves as members of a kind of guild for the emancipation of their fatherland. This nationalistic spirit was nourished in no small degree by the writings of Jahn.

Another aim  was the demonstration of Aryan physical superiority.

Von Tschammer’s impressively staged events of sports pageantry not only enhanced the physical activity, but also the nationalism of Germans.
‘Nordic aesthetic beauty’, and commitment to Germanic ideals of race went hand in hand during the Third Reich, and von Tschammer und Osten implemented a policy of racial exclusion within sports.
Athletes of Jewish origin were excluded from participation in relevant sporting events.

Nacktkultur

German Nacktkultur, or Freikörperkultur (free body movement), refers to a network of private clubs that promoted nudism as a way of linking the modern body more closely to nature, giving it a freer presence in the great outdoors.

‘Nacktende Mensch’
Heinrich Pudor (Heinrich Scham, 1865–1943) supposedly coined the term Nacktkultur around 1903.
His book ‘Nacktende Mensch’ (1893) and the three-volume ‘Nacktkultur’ (1906) established an enduring link between Nacktkultur, vegetarianism, social reform, and racial hygiene (including anti-Semitism).
However, Rothschuh claims that Nacktkultur first appeared in Germany in the 1870s, along with the animal protection, vegetarian, and natural healing movements.
Nudity was an important feature of Freikörperkultur well before World War I, and the idea of nudity as a healthful activity apparently owed something to the medical profession’s efforts to combat such diseases as tuberculosis with what before the war was called ‘Luft und Licht Therapie’ (air and light therapy) or ‘Heliotherapie’.
As late as 1922 a Munich film-maker  Robert Reinert, released a film (‘Nerven’) that concluded with scenes of nude bodies in the mountains finally cured of neurasthenic ailments contracted in a decadent urban environment.
Membership in the more than two hundred German nudist clubs seems to have appealed equally to men and women.
The movement produced numerous journals, and by the late 1920s books on the subject of Nacktkultur were only slightly less numerous than all those devoted to sportsand dance.

Nacktkultur

Yet Nacktkultur, at that time, had no unified ideology.
Nacktkultur was a constellation of subcultures, each of them pursuing values that were not always, or even usually, common to the constellation as a whole.

Indeed, one might even say that, for each subculture, the naked body functioned as a sign of ideological difference rather than as a universal identifier in relation to the alienating pressures of modernity.
The tendency to read Nacktkultur as an anti-intellectual, völkisch (or, at least, conservative) response to the problems of urbanization and rationalization results from an emphasis on two issues often associated with the phenomenon: the use of racial and eugenic theory to justify nudism; and the idea that “natural” nudism was anti-erotic and did not disturb conventional sexual morality.
But Nacktkultur was actually much more complex than we might suppose from such a focus. Something deeper is at stake in critiques of Nacktkultur that seek to bestow a stable political identity on the constellation of subcultures and in the subcultures that seek to bestow a stable political identity on the naked body itself.
Far from being, as some have considered, anti-intellectual, it spawned a considerable philosophical discourse that ascribed deep metaphysical significance to the human body.

Körpersinn – Body Sense
Male Nude – Männlicher Akt

In his insightful book ‘Körpersinn’ (Body Sense) – (1927), Wolfgang Graeser gave perhaps the most direct articulation of this preoccupation with constructing a metaphysics of the body:

The dark, chaotic side of Western technocracy has damned the body, branded it with hell and sin. But in the luminous side, the body stands anew in unconcealed clarity. Exposed and naked is our thinking. Now we comprehend the body, uncaged and without veiling insinuations. Radiant bronze skin mirrors the light of the Olympian sun with the same pure sobriety as the sparkling pistons of clearly formed machines“.

Wolfgang Graeser (1906-1928), whose book Körpersinn (1927), remains an engrossing commentary on the body culture of the era.
Graeser was a protégé of Oswald Spengler, and he shared the master’s vision of apocalyptic transformation in Western civilization:
The evolution of the West now stands in its final stage. The path is prescribed upon which we must move forward“.
This path “can only come out of those sources of life which gymnastics has rediscovered,” for “so long as we feel the red pulse of our bloodstream our being is assured“. 

Körpersinn – Body Sense

Graeser’s book contained no pictures, no “totems” (as he put it) of body culture, no discussion of any body culture personalities, no discussion of any techniques, specific dances, body types, schools of physical education, or documented achievements; it did not even contain any dates, except for frequent reference to the war as the decisive moment in the awakening of modern “body sense.”
Although he clearly differentiated the objectives of sport, gymnastics, and dance, Graeser treated them as abstract theoretical categories, which he did not analyze in relation to subcategories or specific manifestations.
He specified sport as the most “rational” mode of body culture. Graeser sought to reveal the metaphysical significance of the body.


Martin Heidegger
An even deeper thinker, Martin Heidegger, made a relevant contribution to theories on the metaphysics of the body when, in his work ‘Sein und Zeit’ (Being and Time) (1927), he linked the mysterious concept of “unveiling” simultaneously to the construction of truth and to the manifestation of being itself.

Martin Heidegger (September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976) was a German philosopher known for his existential and phenomenological explorations of the “question of Being”.
His best known book, ‘Sein und Zeit‘ (Being and Time), is considered one of the most important philosophical works of the 20th century.
Writing extensively on Nietzsche in his later career, and offering a “phenomenological critique of Kant” in his ‘Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik’ (Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics), Heidegger is known for his post-Kantian philosophy. Heidegger’s influence has been far reaching, from philosophy to theology, deconstructionism, cultural anthropology, literary theory, architecture, and artificial intelligence.
Heidegger supported National Socialism and the Third Reich.

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Nackte Mädchen
Nackte Junge
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Perceptions and images of human bodies are apparently the source of the most powerful and disturbing emotions people can experience.

Perhaps this relation to perception is due to the fact that bodies (their flesh, at any rate) for the most part remain hidden by clothes.
Similarly, the flesh itself hides an intricate and mysterious field of invisible activities whose material identity no microscope can yet reveal, activities we designate by such terms as “emotion,” “desire,” “drive,” “consciousness,” “memory,” “mind,” “soul,” and “the unconscious.”
The invisibility of these activities is itself evidence of a dark, formless, or metaphysical dimension to the body.
But if we associate modern identity with an anti-metaphysical belief system that achieves its strongest expression through antifigural abstraction, then we do not need to see the body itself as a relevant sign of modern identity: all that matters is a modern mind.
By pushing representation and performance toward ever greater intensities of abstraction, much of modernist culture attempted to demystify the body and liberate people from the deep—hence, dark—controls over perception emanating from the body or its image.
No more nudes,” demanded the futurists, for they understood well that memory structures emotion, and nothing stirs emotion so profoundly as the sight of the naked body.
Thus, the liberation of people from memory, from the past, depended on their being freed from the emotions they attach to the body.

Nackt Junge
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Nackt Hitlerjugend

Much of modernist cultural history until recently has avoided dealing with strands of modernism that focus perception on the body rather than away from it, perhaps because modern identity seems less difficult to achieve or comprehend when it is aligned with a constant idea of the body that lies beyond the grasp of those conditions of perception and signification that make identity modern.

‘Nacktkultur’ projected an ambiguous political identity because it treated the body as a double sign: on the one hand, it presented nudity as a return to an eternal primeval; on the other hand, it regarded modern identity as an unprecedented condition of nakedness.
With the rise of Völkisch movements and National Socialism, nudism burst out of its bourgeois enclaves.
By the late 1920s the lure of the ‘nudist arcadia’ had extended its influence across the best part of the ideological spectrum and thereby furnished clear proof that the naked body could become the focus of reformist, educational and aesthetic ideas.
It was a telling symptom of the degree of material uncertainty and mental anxiety then prevailing that human beings felt compelled to return to the most basic point of orientation, the body, in order to redefine their perception of society and their relation to it.
The cult of the naked body had its origins in Germany around the turn of the twentieth century. The German FKK clubs-the literal translation of Freikoerperkultur is “bare (or open-air) body culture” – from which naturism took its cue, retain even now some of the high-minded ideals associated with nudism in the first third of the century.

FKK – Javelin Thrower
FKK – Freikoerperkultur

At first many German and Austrian nudists were suspicious to the National Socialist regime, though not because of the free body cult.
Instead it was because the practice wasn’t official.
There was not a prudish or anti-pleasure atmosphere, though permissiveness was always coupled with thoughts on race, however, due to their willingness to be co-opted by the party, nudists achieved official state recognition fairly quickly.
The greatest success of the movement was the 1942 “Police Decree for the Regulation of Bathing,” which allowed nude swimming.

During the Third Reich Hans Surén published “Mensch und Sonne,” a collection of nude photographs.

Nackt Hitlerjugend Jungen Duschen

Though the numerous photographs of nude bodies no doubt enhanced the appeal of the book, the main attraction was the radiant mythic apparatus Surén constructed to justify a new culture based on “naked living.”
From Surén’s perspective, it was necessary to detach nudity from the association with sickness it had acquired through its use in ‘Luft und Licht Therapie’, and from its stigmatization by anxiety-ridden forces of “prudery” that were poisoning modern civilization.

Convergence of Health, Strength, and Beauty

Open nudity, for Surén, was a sign of health, strength, and beauty (relating nudity to the visual arts); the text implied that people do not “open” their nudity to the world unless their bodies possess all three qualities.
Surén saw nudity as the key to achieving a convergence of health, strength, and beauty.
As long as people remained remote from their own bodies, as long as they were unable to see their own bodies, they could not possibly enjoy health, strength, or beauty.
Because nudity was a natural condition, the proper setting for its manifestation was the great outdoors.
Almost all the photos in ‘Der Mensch und die Sonne’ showed nude bodies in flower-speckled meadows, sun-drenched beaches, grassy flatlands, tranquil marshes, and snow-bright alpine slopes.
He perceived nudity above all as a matter of the body’s relation to sunlight, of its power to see and be seen in a great, open space in which nothing hides the horizon.

Nackt Hitlerjugend an der Nordsee

The “friendship” between sunlight and flesh motivated activities that strengthened and
beautified the body.
The urge to be naked, he believed, lies dormant within us, yet it is as strong as the urge to feel the light of the sun.
The primary activity was gymnastics, with hiking, swimming, and non-competitive sports (such as archery) assuming subordinate significance.
Not surprisingly, Surén promoted his own gymnastic method, which stressed the use of medicine balls, weights, and throw-thrust exercises.
Naked exercises achieved maximum effect when performed in groups rather than alone.
Yet he separated nude gymnastics from competitive sports, which could have unhealthy consequences for the body.
And though he accepted nude dancing as an agreeable component of Nacktkultur , he clearly regarded it as an activity for women.
The profound freedom offered by the conjunction of nudity, sunlight, and open space depended on the perfection of self-discipline resulting from gymnastic training.
Despite his emphasis on group performance, Surén saw nudity and gymnastics as modes of self-discovery and will formation.
The photographs, which feature both men and women, tend to portray “blood and soil” motifs, with a glorification of Aryan supermen (and women).

Mensch und Sonne

It has been suggested that some of the photographs have homoerotic undertones to them, and some feature full frontal male and female nudity.
What is interesting about ‘Mensch und Sonne’, is that it was officially endorsed by the the government of the Third Reich as being in agreement with its political and racial ideology. 
Völkisch groups and National Socialists promoted nudism, and at one point promoted premarital sex for the purpose of breeding a new generation of the master race.
The SS magazine, ‘Das Schwarze Korps’, advertized  Surén’s book, even giving it an entire page in a pre-Christmas issue.
In that edition the magazine stated that : “We want a strong and joyful affirmation of body awareness, because we need it to build a strong and self-confident race.”
Nudity was seen partly as a means of encouraging the “health of the race.”


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‘Archaic Postmodernity’

National Socialist dignitaries devoted much energy to the promotion of German sculptors and helped them considerably in the execution of massive bas-reliefs and in the erection of monumental stone and bronze sculptures.
The political goal was obvious: to bring German art as close as possible to the German people, so that any German citizen, regardless social standing, could identify himself or herself with a specific artistic achievement.
It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the German art of that time witnessed a return to ‘classicism‘.
Models from Antiquity and the Renaissance were to some extent adapted to the needs of National Socialist Germany.
Numerous German sculptors benefited from the logistic and financial support of the political elite.

‘Flora’ – Arno Breker
Arno Breker
Their sculptures resembled, either by form, or by composition, the works of Praxiteles or Phidias of ancient Greece, or the sculptures of Michelangelo during the Renaissance.
The most prominent German sculptors of that time were Arno Breker, Josef Thorak, and Fritz Klimsch, who although enjoying the significant resources of the National Socialist regime, were never members of the NSDAP.
Sculptures of female nudes, such as “Flora” by Breker, “Girl” by Fehrle, or “Glance” by Klimsch, show beautiful and geometrically defined women with perfect bodies, narrow ankles, and well rounded and well-proportioned breasts.

Fritz Klimsch (10 February 1870, Frankfurt am Main – 30 March 1960, Freiburg) was a German sculptor.
Klimsch studied at the Royal College for the Academic Fine Arts in Berlin, and was then a student of Fritz Schaper. In 1898 Klimsch was a founding member of the Berlin Secession.
In the era of National Socialism Klimsch was highly regarded as an artist, and created busts of Erich Ludendorff, Wilhelm Frick and Adolf Hitler. According to a diary entry by Goebbels, Klimsch was the most mature of our sculptors. A genius. In September 1944 Klimsch was named in the highest rank of artists of the Third Reich, in the Gottbegnadeten list.
Shortly before his death in 1960 Klimsch received the Federal Cross of Merit. He was an honorary citizen of Saige, where he was buried.

Male Nude
Fritz Klimsch 1870-1960 
‘Bauer’
Jacob Wilhelm Fehrle – 1884-1974
In addition, the fact that many sculptures show nude males embracing nude females indicates that National Socialism was by no means a “conservative” or “reactionary” movement, and that Puritan Anglo-Saxon prudishness was completely alien to it.
It is difficult to deny the great talent of Breker or Klimsch, even if some critics characterize their sculptures as workmanlike ‘copies‘ of classic artists.

Etude pour l`Action enchaînée, bronze 1905
Aristide Maillol
As a young man, Breker lived in France where he was influenced by his future friend and sculptor, Aristide Maillol.

Aristide Joseph Bonaventure Maillol (December 8, 1861 – September 27, 1944) was a French Catalan sculptor, painter, and printmaker.
The subject of nearly all of Maillol’s mature work is the female body, treated with a classical emphasis on stable forms. The figurative style of his large bronzes, and his serene classicism set a standard for European and American)figure sculpture until the end of World War II.

In spite of his political troubles, Breker continued to work after the war making busts of his friends, (Salvador Dali, Hassan II, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, etc).
It should be noted that Breker, in the wake of the Allied occupation of Germany, was requested by the Soviets to continue his artistic career in the Soviet Union – an offer that he refused.



The New Soviet Man and Woman
Prometheus – Arno Breker
It goes without saying that it is possible to draw certain parallels between the gigantism of the plastic art in National Socialist Germany and that of the Soviet Union (the naked Prometheus vis-à-vis the muscular and shirtless hammer-holding proletarian!).
Yet the differences are again glaring: in Communist countries one could never find sculptures representing nude women and men – which confirms the thesis that Communism, although politically frightening, was primarily a prudish and conservative system.
Indeed, even today, one can hardly encounter pictorial or plastic representations of embracing couples in China, Cuba, or in North Korea.
Neverthless, the sculptures of Venus or nymphs by Breker or Thorak display nothing provocative or pornographic; they rarely trigger sexual fantasies or erotic dreams, as is perhaps the case with the naked beauties painted by the Jewish-Italian artist Amadeo Modigliani.
You and Me – Arno Breker
Upon the faces of the sculptures representing nude women made by German artists, one comes across an enigmatic and aristocratic smile, and a deep sense of the tragic, which reflect, symbolically, the feelings of a whole nation in search of its geopolitical identity.
Little trace can be found of female coquetry or flirtatiousness, such as one encounters among the nudes painted by the French realist, Gustave Courbet, by the Impressionist Edouard Manet, or by Paul Cézanne.
German painting of that time represents a chapter apart.
Contrary to widespread ideas, “kitsch” was never part of art in National Socialist Germany. Indeed, the German National Socialist authorities adopted repressive measures against kitsch” in the arts resembling those invoked against alleged “degenerate art.”
Regarding painting, the early school of expressionism was abandoned and even severely repressed by the authorities as “degenerate art.”
Expressionism, as opposed to Impressionism which originated in France, is paradoxically the typical feature of the German character and temperament, just as it is of other Germanic peoples (Flemings, Scandinavians).
Nevertheless, German artists of the expressionist school did not obtain the regime’s green light to exhibit their works.

Edvard Munch
Dr. Joseph Goebbels
Schools of thought that had emerged from cultural circles such as ‘Die Brücke’ or ‘Neue Sachligkeit’ at the beginning of the twentieth century, were assailed by the National Socialist censorship.
Nevertheless, Dr. Joseph Goebbels was a great admirer of expressionist artists, and was on friendly terms with the Norwegian forerunner of expressionism, the famous painter, Edvard Munch.
In December 1933, Goebbels sent a telegram to Edvard Munch on his seventieth birthday describing him as the spiritual heir of the Nordic spirit.
Goebbels was also among the first to send condolences to his family on the occasion of his death in January 1944.

Edvard Munch (Norwegian: [ˈɛdvɑʈ muŋk]  ( listen); 1863–1944) was a Norwegian painter and printmaker whose intensely evocative treatment of psychological themes built upon some of the main tenets of late 19th-century Symbolism and greatly influenced German Expressionism in the early 20th century. One of his most well-known works is ‘The Scream’ of 1893.

Gottfried Benn
There were thus serious differences among Völkisch politicians and academics regarding the nature and artistic value of expressionism, not just in its pictorial form, but also as poetic expression, as indicated by a still much admired German expressionist poet and cultural pessimist, Gottfried Benn, who was himself very close to National Socialism, and who, in his earlier days, conceived of National Socialism as first and foremost a cultural movement.
This is important because it shows that the National Socialist experiment, contrary to the later liberal-communist propaganda, was by no means a monolithic movement, and that considerable personal and  æsthetical differences prevailed among its high ranking members and sympathizers.
The German painters, who, between 1933 and 1945, gained considerable reputation were by and large neo-classicist portraitists and landscape painters, who avoided pathetic and exaggerated compositions, and attempted to rid artistic work of every trace of the influence of Cubism and abstract art.

Paul Matthias Padua – Ser Fuehrer Spricht – 1939
Overall, one can sense in many of their paintings the revival of the taste for primitive art and a return to the Flemish masters of the fifteenth century.
Certain parallels can again be drawn with the paintings known as “socialist-realist” in the Soviet Union and other communist countries, however, even here the difference is obvious.
Whereas one can see on the paintings of Soviet artists peasants and workmen adorned with their perpetual grins, and in the background a factory under construction, on the German paintings of that time seldom can one see signs of industrialization.

Sepp Hilz – Bäuerliche Venus, 1939
Traces of the asphalt, chimneys spewing fumes, or factories in full gear – such as one can observe among “socialist-realist” painters (and in their titanic and apocalyptic form among the futuristic artists in fascistic Italy!), very rarely appear in the German paintings of that period.
Just as one can draw a comparison between German sculptors and Soviet sculptors, one can also notice a difference between figurative art under Communism and figurative art under National Socialism.
In the art galleries of the Third Reich the scenes of attractive rural nymphs abound (Amadeus Dier, Johannes Beutner, Sepp Hilz, etc).
These pastoral beauties, which can be observed on oil paintings, exude family harmony, and seem to anticipate a well-deserved rest after a hard day’s work in the cornfields.
Also worth mentioning is the artist and a wood engraver, Ernst von Dombrowski, whose scenes of country life and young children playing, still win great praise from critics.
In conclusion, one can state that the German sculpture of that time, proclaims, at least as a rule, a message of racial and Promethean hygiene, while the paintings of that time reveal a distinct and populist (völkisch) tendency that can hardly be misconstrued for any ideological or political speculation.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013