Gustav Mahler – die arische Jude

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
please note: this blog is not intended to approve, condone or encourage any of the beliefs and/or ideologies described herein.
As a young man, when he was still living with his first – and possibly only friend – Gutsl Kubizek, Adolf Hitler would sit enthralled in the Wiener Hofoper as the Jew, Gutav Mahler, conducted the Operas of Hitler’s favourite composer, the vigorously anti-Semitic Richard Wagner.
According to ‘Mein Kampf’, at this time Hitler was already a confirmed anti-Semite – and yet – he had many Jewish friends, sold his paintings to Jewish dealers and art collectors, and didn’t seem to notice that his favourite conductor was a Jew.
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Gustav Mahler (7 July 1860 – 18 May 1911) was a late-Romantic Austrian composer, and one of the leading conductors of his generation.

Gustav Mahler 

He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then the Austrian Empire.
His family later moved to nearby Iglau, where Mahler grew up.
While in his lifetime his status as a conductor was established beyond question, his own music gained wide popularity only after periods of relative neglect.
Born in humble circumstances, Mahler displayed his musical gifts at an early age.
After graduating from the Vienna Conservatory in 1878, he held a succession of conducting posts of rising importance in the opera houses of Europe, culminating in his appointment in 1897 as director of the Vienna Court Opera (Wiener Hofoper).
Mahler’s innovative productions, and insistence on the highest performance standards ensured his reputation as one of the greatest of opera conductors, particularly as an interpreter of the stage works of Wagner.
Late in his life he was briefly director of New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic.
Mahler’s œuvre is relatively small.
For much of his life composing was necessarily a part-time activity while he earned his living as a conductor, but he devoted as much time as he could to his compositions, faithfully reserving his summer months for intense periods of creative concentration, supplemented as time permitted during his active concert seasons with the tasks of editing and orchestrating his expansive works.
Aside from early works such as a movement from a piano quartet composed when he was a student in Vienna, Mahler’s works are designed for large orchestral forces, symphonic choruses and operatic soloists. Most of his twelve symphonic scores are very large-scale works, often employing vocal soloists and choruses in addition to augmented orchestral forces.
These works were often controversial when first performed, and several were slow to receive critical and popular approval; exceptions included his Symphony No. 2, Symphony No. 3, and the triumphant première of his Eighth Symphony in 1910.

Family Background

The Mahler family came from eastern Bohemia and were of humble circumstances; the composer’s grandmother had been a street pedlar.
Bohemia was then part of the Austrian Empire; the Mahler family belonged to a German-speaking minority among Bohemians, and was also Jewish.
From this background the future composer developed early on a permanent sense of exile, “always an intruder, never welcomed“.
Bernhard Mahler, the pedlar’s son, and the composer’s father, elevated himself to the ranks of the petite bourgeoisie by becoming a coachman and later an innkeeper.
He bought a modest house in the village of Kalischt, on a straight line roughly halfway between Prague in Bohemia and Brno in Moravia.
Bernhard’s wife Marie gave birth to the first of the couple’s 14 children, a son Isidor, who died in infancy. Two years later, on 7 July 1860, their second son, Gustav, was born.


Stadtwappen Iglau

In December 1860, Bernhard Mahler moved with his wife and infant son to the town of Iglau, 25 km to the south-east, where he built up a distillery and tavern business.

Iglau is a city situated on the river Igel, on the historical border between Moravia and Bohemia.
Among the principal buildings are the early Gothic churches of St. Jacob, Friars Minor church of Our Lady and Dominican church of Holy Cross, the Baroque church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Municipal Hall and a number of municipal houses containing Gothic and Renaissance details.
There is also a Jewish cemetery, containing some remarkable monuments including the tombstone of the parents of Gustav Mahler.

The family grew rapidly, but of the 12 children born to the family in Iglau only six survived infancy.
Iglau was then a thriving commercial town of 20,000 people where Gustav was introduced to music through street songs, dance tunes, folk melodies, and the trumpet calls and marches of the local military band.
Many of these elements would later contribute, in some measure, to his mature musical vocabulary.
When he was four years old, Gustav discovered his grandparents’ piano and took to it immediately.
He developed his performing skills sufficiently to be considered a local ‘Wunderkind‘ (child prodigy) and gave his first public performance at the town theatre when he was ten years old.
Although Gustav loved making music, his school reports from the Iglau Gymnasium portrayed him as absent-minded and unreliable in academic work.
In 1871, in the hope of improving the boy’s results, his father sent him to the New Town Gymnasium in Prague, but Gustav was unhappy there and soon returned to Iglau.
In 1874 he suffered a bitter personal loss when his younger brother Ernst died after a long illness.
(Adolf Hitler also lost a beloved younger brother (Edmund) in his childhood.)
Mahler sought to express his feelings in music: with the help of a friend, Josef Steiner, he began work on an opera, ‘Herzog Ernst von Schwaben’ (“Duke Ernest of Swabia”) as a memorial to his lost brother.
Neither the music nor the libretto of this work has survived.

Student Days

k.k. Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst

Bernhard Mahler was supportive of his son’s ambitions for a music career, and agreed that the boy should try for a place at the Kaiserlich und Königlich Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst (Vienna Conservatory).

Julius Epstein

The young Mahler was auditioned by the renowned pianist Julius Epstein, and accepted for 1875–76.
He made good progress in his piano studies with Epstein and won prizes at the end of each of his first two years.
For his final year, 1877–78, he concentrated on composition and harmony under Robert Fuchs and Franz Krenn.
Few of Mahler’s student compositions have survived; most were abandoned when he became dissatisfied with them.
He destroyed a symphonic movement prepared for an end-of-term competition, after its scornful rejection by the autocratic director Joseph Hellmesberger on the grounds of copying errors.

Hitler and Brukner

Mahler may have gained his first conducting experience with the Conservatory’s student orchestra, in rehearsals and performances, although it appears that his main role in this orchestra was as a percussionist.
Mahler was influenced by Richard Wagner during his student days, and later became a leading interpreter of Wagner’s operas
Among Mahler’s fellow students at the Conservatory was the future song composer Hugo Wolf, with whom he formed a close friendship.
Wolf was unable to submit to the strict disciplines of the Conservatory and was expelled.
Mahler, while sometimes rebellious, avoided the same fate only by writing a penitent letter to Hellmesberger.
He attended occasional lectures by Anton Bruckner and, though never formally his pupil, was influenced by him.
(Anton Brukner was one of Adolf Hitler’s favourite composers.)

Richard Wagner
Anton Bruckner

On 16 December 1877, he attended the disastrous première of Bruckner’s Third Symphony, at which the composer was shouted down, and most of the audience walked out.
Mahler and other sympathetic students later prepared a piano version of the symphony, which they presented to Bruckner.
Along with many music students of his generation, Mahler fell under the spell of Richard Wagner, though his chief interest was the sound of the music, rather than the staging.
It is not known whether he saw any of Wagner’s operas during his student years.
Mahler left the Conservatory in 1878 with a diploma, but without the prestigious silver medal given for outstanding achievement.
He then enrolled at the University of Vienna (he had, at Bernhard’s insistence, sat and with difficulty passed the “matura”, or entrance examination) and followed courses which reflected his developing interests in literature and philosophy.
After leaving the University in 1879, Mahler made some money as a piano teacher, continued to compose, and in 1880 finished a dramatic cantata, ‘Das klagende Lied’ (“The Song of Lamentation”).

Arthur Schopenhauer
Siegfried Lipiner

This, his first substantial composition, shows traces of Wagnerian and Brucknerian influences, yet includes many original musical elements.
Its first performance was delayed until 1901, when it was presented in a revised, shortened form.
Mahler developed interests in German philosophy, and was introduced by his friend Siegfried Lipiner to the works of Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Gustav Fechner and Hermann Lotze.
These thinkers continued to influence Mahler and his music long after his student days were over.

Early Conducting Career – First Appointments

Gustav Mahler

In the summer of 1880, Mahler took his first professional conducting job, in a small wooden theatre in the spa town of Bad Hall, south of Linz.
In 1881, he was engaged at the Landestheater in Laibach, where the small but resourceful company was prepared to attempt more ambitious works.
Here, Mahler conducted his first full-scale opera, Verdi’s ‘Il trovatore’, one of more than 50 that he presented during his time in Laibach.
After completing his six-month engagement, Mahler returned to Vienna and worked part-time as chorus-master at the Vienna Carltheater.
In January 1883, Mahler became conductor at a run-down theatre in Olmütz.
He later wrote: “From the moment I crossed the threshold of the Olmütz theatre I felt like one awaiting the wrath of God.
Despite poor relations with the orchestra – (a common problem for Mahler), Mahler brought five new operas to the theatre, including Bizet’s ‘Carmen’.

Königliche Theater in Kassel

After a week’s trial at the Königliche Theater in Kassel (Royal Theatre in the Hessian town of Kassel), Mahler became the theatre’s “Musical and Choral Director” from August 1883.
The title concealed the reality that Mahler was subordinate to the theatre’s Kapellmeister, Wilhelm Treiber, who disliked him, and set out to make his life miserable.
Despite the unpleasant atmosphere, Mahler had moments of success at Kassel.

Joseph Victor von Scheffel
Carl Maria von Weber

He directed a performance of one of his his favourite operas, Weber’s ‘Der Freischütz’, and, on 23 June 1884, conducted his own incidental music to Joseph Victor von Scheffel’s play ‘Der Trompeter von Säkkinge’n (“The Trumpeter of Säkkingen”), the first professional public performance of a Mahler work.
An ardent, but ultimately unfulfilled, love affair with soprano Johanna Richter led Mahler to write a series of love poems which became the text of his great song cycle ‘Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen’ (“Songs of a Wayfarer”).
In January 1884, the distinguished conductor Hans von Bülow brought the Meiningen Court Orchestra to Kassel and gave two concerts.

Hans von Bülow

Hoping to escape from his job in the theatre, Mahler unsuccessfully sought a post as Bülow’s permanent assistant, however, in the following year his efforts to find new employment resulted in a six-year contract with the prestigious Leipzig Opera, to begin in 1886.
Unwilling to remain in Kassel for another year, Mahler resigned in July 1885, and through good fortune was offered a standby appointment as an assistant conductor at the Neues Deutsches Theater (New German Theatre) in Prague.

Prague and Leipzig

In Prague, the emergence of Czech National Revival had increased the popularity and importance of the new Czech National Theatre, and had led to a downturn in the Neues Deutsches Theater’s fortunes.
Mahler’s task was to help arrest this decline by offering high-quality productions of German opera.


He had early success presenting works by Mozart and Wagner, composers with whom he would be particularly associated for the rest of his career, but his individualistic and increasingly autocratic conducting style led to friction, and a falling out with his more experienced fellow-conductor, Ludwig Slansky.

Neues Stadttheater in Leipzig

In April 1886, Mahler left Prague to take up his post at the Neues Stadttheater in Leipzig, where rivalry with his senior colleague Arthur Nikisch began at once.

Wagner’s ‘Ring Cycle’

This was primarily over how the two should share conducting duties for the theatre’s new production of Wagner’s ‘Ring Cycle’.
Nikisch’s illness, in January 1887, meant that Mahler took charge of the whole cycle, and scored a resounding public success.
This did not win him popularity with the orchestra, who resented his dictatorial manner and heavy rehearsal schedules.
In Leipzig, Mahler befriended Carl von Weber, grandson of the composer, and agreed to prepare a performing version of Carl Maria von Weber’s unfinished opera ‘Die drei Pintos’ (“The Three Pintos”).


Mahler transcribed and orchestrated the existing musical sketches, used parts of other Weber works, and added some composition of his own.

The première at the Stadttheater, in January 1888, was an important occasion at which Tchaikovsky was present, as were the heads of various opera houses.
The work was well-received; its success did much to raise Mahler’s public profile, and brought him financial rewards.
His involvement with the Weber family was complicated by a romantic attachment to Carl von Weber’s wife Marion which, though intense on both sides, ultimately came to nothing.

Peter Cornelius
Im Walde – ‘Des Knaben Wunderhorn’
Schwind von Moritz

At around this time Mahler discovered the German folk-poem collection ‘Des Knaben Wunderhorn’ (“The Youth’s Magic Horn”), which would dominate much of his compositional output for the following 12 years.
In May 1888, Mahler’s new-found financial security enabled him to resign his Leipzig position after a dispute with the Stadttheater’s chief stage manager.
Without a post, Mahler returned to Prague to work on a revival of ‘Die drei Pintos’ and a production of Peter Cornelius’s ‘Der Barbier von Bagdad’.
This short stay ended unhappily, with Mahler’s dismissal after an outburst during rehearsals.
However, through the efforts of an old Viennese friend, Guido Adler, Mahler’s name went forward as a potential director of the Royal Hungarian Opera in Budapest.
He was interviewed, made a good impression, and was offered the post from October 1888.

Apprentice Composer

In the early years of Mahler’s conducting career, composing was a spare time activity.
Between his Laibach and Olmütz appointments he worked on settings of verses by Richard Leander and Tirso de Molina, later collected as Volume I of ‘Lieder und Gesänge’ (“Songs and Airs”).
Mahler’s first orchestral song cycle, ‘Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen’, composed at Kassel, was based on his own verses, although the first poem, “Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht” (“When my love becomes a bride”) closely follows the text of a ‘Wunderhorn’ poem.
The airs for the second and fourth songs of the cycle were incorporated into the First Symphony, which Mahler finished in 1888, at the height of his relationship with Marion von Weber.
The intensity of Mahler’s feelings are reflected in the music, which originally was written as a five-movement symphonic poem with a descriptive programme.
One of these movements, the “Blumine”, later discarded, was based on a passage from his earlier work ‘Der Trompeter von Säckingen’.
After completing the symphonic poem, Mahler composed a 20-minute funeral march, or ‘Totenfeier’ (Celebrations of Death), which later became the first movement of his Second Symphony.
There has been frequent speculation about lost or destroyed works from Mahler’s early years.
The Dutch conductor Willem Mengelberg believed that the First Symphony was too mature to be a first symphonic work (almost certainly correct), and must have had predecessors.
In 1938, Mengelberg revealed the existence of the so-called “Dresden archive”, a series of manuscripts in the possession of the widowed Marion von Weber.
The archive was almost certainly destroyed in the bombing of Dresden in 1945; and there is the strong possibility that some important manuscripts, either early symphonies or parts of early symphonies, were to be found in Dresden.

Royal Opera Budapest

On arriving in Budapest in October 1888, Mahler encountered a cultural conflict between conservative Hungarian nationalists who favoured a policy of Magyarisation, and progressives who wanted to maintain and develop the country’s Austro-German cultural traditions.
In the opera house a dominant conservative caucus, led by the music director Sándor Erkel, had maintained a limited repertory of historical and folklore opera.
By the time that Mahler began his duties, the progressive camp had gained ascendancy following the appointment of the liberal-minded Ferenc von Beniczky as intendant.
Aware of the delicate situation, Mahler moved cautiously; he delayed his first appearance on the conductor’s stand until January 1889, when he conducted Hungarian language (?) performances of ‘Das Rheingold’ and ‘Die Walküre’, however, his early successes faded when plans to stage the remainder of the ‘Ring Cycle’ and other German operas were frustrated by a renascent conservative faction which favoured a more traditional “Hungarian” programme.
In search of non-German operas to extend the repertory, Mahler visited Italy where among the works he discovered was Pietro Mascagni’s recent sensation ‘Cavalleria rusticana’.
In February 1889, Bernhard Mahler died; this was followed later in the year by the deaths both of Mahler’s sister Leopoldine and his mother.
Mahler himself suffered poor health, with attacks of haemorrhoids and migraine and a recurrent septic throat.
Shortly after these family and health setbacks the première of the First Symphony, in Budapest on 21 November 1889, was a disappointment.
The critic August Beer’s lengthy newspaper review indicates that enthusiasm after the early movements degenerated into “audible opposition” after the Finale.
Mahler was particularly distressed by the negative comments from his Vienna Conservatory contemporary, Viktor von Herzfeld, who had remarked that Mahler, like many conductors before him, had proved not to be a composer.
In 1891, Hungary’s move to the political right was reflected in the opera house when Beniczky was replaced as intendant by Géza Zichy, a conservative aristocrat determined to assume artistic control over Mahler’s head.
Mahler began negotiating with the director of the Hamburg Stadttheater; in May 1891, having agreed to a contract there, he resigned his Budapest post.
His final Budapest triumph was a performance of ‘Don Giovanni’ which won him praise from Brahms, who was present.
(Brahms’ and Mahler’s attitudes to each other’s music were generally negative, but in one of his last concerts with the New York Philharmonic shortly before his death Mahler conducted a performance of Brahms’ Third Symphony that his concertmaster Theodore Spiering said he would never forget.)
During his Budapest years Mahler’s compositional output had been limited to the ‘Wunderhorn’ song settings that became Volumes II and III of ‘Lieder und Gesänge’, and amendments to the First Symphony.

Hamburg Stadttheater

Mahler’s Hamburg post was as chief conductor, subordinate to the director, Bernhard Pohl (known as Pollini) who retained overall artistic control.
Pollini was prepared to give Mahler considerable leeway if the conductor could provide commercial as well as artistic success.
This Mahler did in his first season, when he conducted Wagner’s ‘Tristan und Isolde’ for the first time and gave acclaimed performances of the same composer’s ‘Tannhäuser’ and ‘Siegfried’.
Another triumph was the German premiere of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’, in the presence of the composer, who called Mahler’s conducting “astounding“.
Mahler’s demanding rehearsal schedules led to predictable resentment from the singers and orchestra with whom the conductor “inspired hatred and respect in almost equal measure.
He found support, however, from Hans von Bülow, who was in Hamburg as director of the city’s subscription concerts.
Bülow, who had spurned Mahler’s approaches in Kassel, had come to admire the younger man’s conducting style, and on Bülow’s death in 1894 Mahler took over the direction of the concerts.
In the summer of 1892 Mahler took the Hamburg singers to London to participate in a six-week season of German opera – his only visit to Britain.
His conducting of ‘Tristan’ enthralled the young composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, who “staggered home in a daze and could not sleep for two nights“, however, Mahler refused further such invitations as he was anxious to reserve his summers for composing.
In 1893 he acquired a retreat at Steinbach, on the banks of Lake Attersee in Upper Austria, and established a pattern that persisted for the rest of his life; summers would henceforth be dedicated to composition, at Steinbach or its successor retreats.
Now firmly under the influence of the ‘Wunderhorn’ folk-poem collection, Mahler produced a stream of song settings at Steinbach, and composed his Second and Third Symphonies there.[43]

‘Des Knaben Wunderhorn’: Alte deutsche Lieder (The Boy’s Magic Horn: Old German Songs) is a collection of German folk poems and songs edited by Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano, and published in Heidelberg, in the Grand Duchy of Baden.
The book was published in three editions: the first in 1805 followed by two more volumes in 1808.
The collection was an important source of idealized folklore in the Romantic nationalism of the 19th century. ‘Des Knaben Wunderhorn’ became widely popular across the German-speaking world; Goethe, one of the most influential writers of the time, declared that ‘Des Knaben Wunderhorn’ “has its place in every household”.
Arnim and Brentano, like other early 19th-century song collectors, such as the Englishman Thomas Percy, freely modified the poems in their collection.
The editors, both poets themselves, invented some of their own poems.
Some poems were modified to fit poetic meter, to conform to then-modern German spelling, or otherwise to conform more closely to an idealized, Romantic “folk style” (naturpoesie).

Performances of Mahler works were still comparatively rare.
On 27 October 1893, at Hamburg’s Ludwig Konzerthaus, Mahler conducted a revised version of his First Symphony; still in its original five-movement form, it was presented as a ‘Tondichtung’ (tone poem) under the descriptive name “Der Titan”.
This concert also introduced several recent ‘Wunderhorn’ settings.
Mahler achieved his first relative success as a composer when the Second Symphony was well-received on its première in Berlin, under his own baton, on 13 December 1895.
Mahler’s future conducting assistant Bruno Walter, who was present, said that “one may date Mahler’s rise to fame as a composer from that day.”
That same year Mahler’s private life was disrupted by the suicide of his younger brother Otto.

Otto Mahler (18 June 1873 – 6 February 1895) was a Bohemian-Austrian musician and composer who committed suicide at the age of twenty-one.
The twelfth child of Bernard and Marie Mahler, Otto was born in Jihlava and resembled his elder brother Gustav Mahler in displaying a special talent for music at an early age.
Otto was a talented student. He appears to have been less diligent than his brother had been, however. After a few successful terms studying harmony and counterpoint with Anton Bruckner and piano with Ernst Ludwig, his marks declined, and the annual report for his first year shows that for some reason he took no final examination in composition. From that point on his academic performance was increasingly poor, and in April 1892, Otto Mahler left the Conservatory without a diploma.
With the help of his brother, Otto was able to find minor musical posts in provincial towns. He seldom stayed long in any place, however. In the autumn of 1893, he took on a position as choirmaster and second conductor of the Leipzig Opera. After moving to a position in Bremen, he returned to Vienna.

It was in Vienna on 6 February 1895, that Otto shot himself with a revolver while in the house of his and Mahler’s friend Nina Hoffmann-Matscheko. According to Gustav’s widow Alma, Otto’s suicide-note stated that life no longer pleased him, so he ‘handed back his ticket’.

At the Stadttheater Mahler introduced numerous new operas: Verdi’s ‘Falstaff’, Humperdinck’s ‘Hänsel und Gretel’, and works by Smetana, however, he was forced to resign his post with the subscription concerts after poor financial returns and an ill-received interpretation of his re-scored Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Mahler had made it clear that his ultimate goal was an appointment in Vienna, and from 1895 onward was manoeuvring, with the help of influential friends, to secure the directorship of the Vienna Hofoper.
He overcame the bar that existed against the appointment of a Jew to this post by converting to Roman Catholicism in February 1897.
Despite this event, however, Mahler has been described as a lifelong agnostic, or at best a Pantheist or Deist
Two months later the ‘Aryan’ Mahler was appointed to the Hofoper, provisionally as a staff conductor with the title of Kapellmeister.

Hofoper Director

As he waited for the Austrian Kaiser’s confirmation of his directorship, Mahler shared duties as a resident conductor with Joseph Hellmesberger Jr (son of the former conservatory director) and Hans Richter, an internationally renowned interpreter of Wagner, and the conductor of the original ‘Ring Cycle’ at Bayreuth in 1876.
Director Wilhelm Jahn had not consulted Richter about Mahler’s appointment; Mahler, sensitive to the situation, wrote Richter a complimentary letter expressing unswerving admiration for the older conductor. Subsequently the two were rarely in agreement, but kept their divisions private.
Vienna, the imperial Habsburg capital, had recently elected an anti-Semitic conservative mayor, Karl Lueger, who had once proclaimed: “I myself decide who is a Jew and who isn’t.
In such a volatile political atmosphere Mahler needed an early demonstration of his German cultural credentials.
He made his initial mark in May 1897 with much-praised performances of Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’ and Mozart’s ‘Die Zauberflöte’ (The Magic Flute).
Shortly after the ‘Zauberflöte’ triumph, Mahler was forced to take sick leave for several weeks, during which he was nursed by his sister Justine and his long-time companion, the viola player Natalie Bauer-Lechner.
Mahler returned to Vienna in early August to prepare for Vienna’s first uncut version of the Ring cycle.
This performance took place on 24–27 August, attracting critical praise and public enthusiasm. Mahler’s friend Hugo Wolf told Bauer-Lechner that “for the first time I have heard the Ring as I have always dreamed of hearing it while reading the score.”
On 8 October Mahler was formally appointed to succeed Jahn as the Hofoper’s director.
His first production in his new office was Smetana’s Czech nationalist opera ‘Dalibor’, with a reconstituted finale that left the hero Dalibor alive.
This production caused anger among the more extreme Viennese German nationalists, who accused Mahler of “fraternising with the anti-dynastic, inferior Czech nation“.
During Mahler’s tenure a total of 33 new operas were introduced to the Hofoper; a further 55 were new or totally revamped productions, however, a proposal to stage Richard Strauss’s controversial opera ‘Salome’ in 1905 was (not surprisingly) rejected by the Viennese censors.

Alfred Roller
Alfred Roller – ‘Tristan und Isolde’

Early in 1902 Mahler met Alfred Roller, an artist and designer associated with the Wiener Secession movement.
A year later, Mahler appointed him chief stage designer to the Hofoper, where Roller’s début was a magnificent new production of ‘Tristan und Isolde’.
The collaboration between Mahler and Roller created more than 20 celebrated productions of, among other operas, Beethoven’s ‘Fidelio’, Gluck’s ‘Iphigénie en Aulide’ and Mozart’s ‘Le nozze di Figaro’.
In the Figaro production, Mahler offended some purists by adding and composing a short recitative scene to Act III.
In spite of numerous theatrical triumphs, Mahler’s Vienna years were rarely smooth; his battles with singers and the house administration continued on and off for the whole of his tenure.
While Mahler’s methods improved standards, his histrionic and dictatorial conducting style was resented by orchestra members and singers alike.
In December 1903 Mahler faced a revolt by stage-hands, whose demands for better conditions he rejected in the belief that extremists were manipulating his staff.
By that time he was at odds with the opera house’s administration over the amount of time he was spending on his own music, and was preparing to leave.
Early in 1907 he began discussions with Heinrich Conried, director of the New York Metropolitan Opera, and in June signed a contract, on very favourable terms, for four seasons’ conducting in New York.
At the end of the summer he submitted his resignation to the Hofoper, and on 15 October 1907 conducted ‘Fidelio’, his 648th and final performance there.
During his ten years in Vienna Mahler had brought new life to the opera house and cleared its debts, but had won few friends  – it was said that he treated his musicians in the way a lion tamer treated his animals.
His departing message to the company, which he pinned to a notice board, was later torn down and scattered over the floor.
After conducting the Hofoper orchestra in a farewell concert performance of his Second Symphony on 24 November, Mahler left Vienna for New York in early December.

Marriage and Family

During his second season in Vienna, Mahler acquired a spacious modern apartment on the Auenbruggerstrasse, and built a summer villa on land he had acquired next to his new composing studio at Maiernigg.
In November 1901, he met Alma Schindler, the stepdaughter of painter Carl Moll, at a social gathering that included the theatre director Max Burckhard.
Alma was not initially keen to meet Mahler, on account of “the scandals about him and every young woman who aspired to sing in opera“.
The two engaged in a lively disagreement about a ballet by Alexander von Zemlinsky (Alma was one of Zemlinsky’s pupils), but agreed to meet at the Hofoper the following day.
This meeting led to a rapid courtship; Mahler and Alma were married at a private ceremony on 9 March 1902.
Alma was by then pregnant with her first child, a daughter Maria Anna, who was born on 3 November 1902. A second daughter, Anna, was born in 1904.
Friends of the couple were surprised by the marriage and dubious of its wisdom.
Mahler’s family considered Alma to be flirtatious, unreliable, and too fond of seeing young men fall for her charms.
Mahler was by nature moody and authoritarian – Natalie Bauer-Lechner, his earlier partner, said that living with him was “like being on a boat that is ceaselessly rocked to and fro by the waves“.
Alma soon became resentful that, on Mahler’s insistence that there could only be one composer in the family, she had given up her music studies.
She wrote in her diary: “How hard it is to be so mercilessly deprived of … things closest to one’s heart“.
Mahler’s requirement that their married life be organised around his creative activities imposed strains, and precipitated rebellion on Alma’s part; the marriage was nevertheless marked at times by expressions of considerable passion, particularly from Mahler.
In the summer of 1907 Mahler, exhausted from the effects of the campaign against him in Vienna, took his family to Maiernigg.
Soon after their arrival both daughters fell ill with scarlet fever and diphtheria.
Anna recovered, but after a fortnight’s struggle Maria died on 12 July.
Immediately following this devastating loss, Mahler learned that his heart was defective, a diagnosis subsequently confirmed by a Vienna specialist, who ordered a curtailment of all forms of vigorous exercise.
The extent to which Mahler’s condition disabled him is unclear; Alma wrote of it as a virtual death sentence, though Mahler himself, in a letter written to her on 30 August 1907, said that he would be able to live a normal life, apart from avoiding over-fatigue.
The illness was, however, a further depressing factor; at the end of the summer the villa at Maiernigg was closed, and never revisited.

Last Years – 1908 -11

Mahler made his New York debut at the Metropolitan Opera on 1 January 1908, when he conducted Wagner’s ‘Tristan und Isolde’ in the cut version still standard in New York, though long since superseded in Vienna.
In a busy first season Mahler’s performances were widely praised, especially his ‘Fidelio’ on 20 March 1908, in which he insisted on using replicas being made of Roller’s Vienna sets.
On his return to Austria for the summer of 1908, Mahler established himself in the third and last of his composing studios, in the pine forests close to Toblach in Tyrol.
Here, using a text by Hans Bethge based on ancient Chinese poems, he composed ‘Das Lied von der Erde’ (“The Song of the Earth”).
Despite the symphonic nature of the work, Mahler refused to number it, hoping thereby to escape the “curse of the Ninth Symphony” that he believed had affected fellow-composers Beethoven, Schubert and Bruckner.
On 19 September 1908 the première of the Seventh Symphony, in Prague, was deemed by Alma Mahler a critical rather than a popular success.

Arturo Toscanini

For its 1908–09 season the Metropolitan management brought in the Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini to share duties with Mahler, who made only 19 appearances in the entire season.
One of these was a much-praised performance of Smetana’s ‘The Bartered Bride’ on 19 February 1909.
In the early part of the season Mahler conducted three concerts with the New York Symphony Orchestra.
This renewed experience of orchestral conducting inspired him to resign his position with the opera house and accept the conductor-ship of the re-formed New York Philharmonic.
He continued to make occasional guest appearances at the Met, his last performance being Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Queen of Spades’ on 5 March 1910.
Back in Europe for the summer of 1909, Mahler worked on his Ninth Symphony and made a conducting tour of the Netherlands.
The 1909–10 New York Philharmonic season was long and taxing; Mahler rehearsed and conducted 46 concerts, but his programmes were often too demanding for popular tastes.
His own First Symphony, given its American début on 16 December 1909, was one of the pieces that failed with critics and public, and the season ended with heavy financial losses.
The highlight of Mahler’s 1910 summer was the first performance of the stupendous Eighth Symphony ‘Sinfonie der Tausendat’ in Munich on 12 September, the last of his works to be premièred in his lifetime.

Walter Gropius
Sigmund Freud

The occasion was a triumph – “easily Mahler’s biggest lifetime success“, – but was overshadowed by the composer’s discovery, before the event, that Alma had begun an affair with the young architect Walter Gropius.
Greatly distressed, Mahler sought advice from Sigmund Freud, and appeared to gain some comfort from his meeting with the psychoanalyst. Alma agreed to remain with Mahler, although the relationship with Gropius continued surreptitiously.
In a gesture of love, Mahler foolishly dedicated his Eighth Symphony to her.

Illness and Death

In spite of the emotional distractions, during the summer of 1910 Mahler worked on his Tenth Symphony, completing the Adagio and drafting four more movements.
He and Alma returned to New York in November 1910, where Mahler threw himself into a busy Philharmonic season of concerts and tours.
Around Christmas 1910 he began suffering from a sore throat, which persisted.
On 21 February 1911, with a temperature of 40 °C (104 °F), Mahler insisted on fulfilling an engagement at Carnegie Hall, with a program of mainly new Italian music, including the world premiere of Busoni’s ‘Berceuse élégiaque’.
This was Mahler’s last concert.
After weeks confined to bed he was diagnosed with bacterial endocarditis, a disease to which sufferers from defective heart valves were particularly prone, and for which the survival rate in pre-antibiotic days was almost zero.
Mahler did not give up hope; he talked of resuming the concert season, and took a keen interest when one of Alma’s compositions was sung at a public recital by the soprano Frances Alda, on 3 March.
On 8 April the Mahler family and a permanent nurse left New York on board SS Amerika bound for Europe.
They reached Paris ten days later, where Mahler entered a clinic at Neuilly, but there was no improvement; on 11 May he was taken by train to the Lŏw sanatorium in Vienna, where he died on 18 May.
On 22 May 1911 Mahler was buried in the Grinzing cemetery, as he had requested.
Alma, on doctors’ orders, was absent, but among the mourners at a relatively pomp-free funeral were Arnold Schoenberg (whose wreath described Mahler as “the holy Gustav Mahler” ?), Bruno Walter, Alfred Roller, the Secessionist painter Gustav Klimt, and representatives from many of the great European opera houses.
Alma Mahler survived her husband by more than 50 years, dying in 1964.
Unsurprisingly, she married Walter Gropius in 1915, and then divorced him five years later, and married the writer Franz Werfel in 1929.
The composer’s daughter Anna Mahler became a well-known sculptor; she died in 1988.

The Music

Deryck Cooke

Deryck Cooke divided Mahler’s composing life into three distinct phases: a long “first period”, extending from ‘Das klagende Lied’ in 1880 to the end of the ‘Wunderhorn’ phase in 1901; a “middle period” of more concentrated composition ending with Mahler’s departure for New York in 1907; and a brief “late period” of elegiac works before his death in 1911.
The main works of the first period are the first four symphonies, the ‘Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen’ song cycle, and various song collections in which the ‘Wunderhorn’ songs predominate.
In this period songs and symphonies are closely related, and the symphonic works are programmatic.
Mahler initially gave the first three symphonies full descriptive programmes.
The middle period comprises a triptych of purely instrumental symphonies (the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh), the ‘Rückert’ songs and the ‘Kindertotenlieder’ (Songs for Dead Children), two final ‘Wunderhorn’ settings and, in some reckonings, Mahler’s last great affirmative statement, the choral Eighth Symphony.
Cooke, more correctly, believes that the Eighth stands on its own, between the middle and final periods.
Mahler had by now abandoned all explicit programmes and descriptive titles; he wanted to write so-called “absolute” music that spoke for itself.
Cooke refers to “a new granite-like hardness of orchestration” in the middle-period symphonies, while the songs have lost most of their folk character, and cease to fertilise the symphonies as explicitly as before.
The works of the brief final period – ‘Das Lied von der Erde’ (Song of the Earth), the Ninth and (incomplete) Tenth Symphonies – are expressions of personal experience, as Mahler faced death.
Each of the pieces ends quietly, signifying that aspiration has now given way to resignation.
Cooke considers these works to be a farewell to life.
None of these final works was performed in Mahler’s lifetime.


The union of song and symphonic form in Mahler’s music is, in Cooke’s view, organic; “his songs flower naturally into symphonic movements, being already symphonic in cast.
To Sibelius, Mahler expressed the belief that “The symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.
True to this belief, Mahler drew material from many sources into his songs and symphonic works: bird calls and cow-bells to evoke nature and the countryside, bugle fanfares, street melodies and country dances to summon the lost world of his childhood.
Life’s struggles are represented in contrasting moods: the yearning for fulfilment by soaring melodies and chromatic harmony, suffering and despair by discord, distortion and grotesquerie.
The range of musical moods, Cooke maintains, comes from Mahler’s “amazing orchestration” which, in the writer’s view, “speaks for itself“.
In addition there are specific features which are basic to Mahler’s style: extremes of volume, the use of off-stage ensembles, unconventional arrangement of orchestral forces, and frequent recourse to popular music and dance forms such as the ländler and the waltz.
The supposed ‘Jewish’ elements in Mahler’s works are attempts by Jewish commentators and their supporters to corral Mahler into the Jewish cultural ghetto.
In fact the so-called ‘Jewish’ elements are simply examples of popular Central European music of the time, included usually to indicate reminiscences of the composers youthful experiences.
A technical device much used by Mahler is that of “progressive tonality“, which Deryck Cooke describes as “the procedure of resolving a symphonic conflict in a different key from that in which it was stated”, and which is often used “to symbolise the gradual ascendancy of a certain value by progress from one key to another over the whole course of a symphony“.
Mahler first employed the device in an early song, ‘Erinnerung’ (“Memory”), and thereafter used it freely in his symphonies.
For example, the predominant key of the First Symphony is D major; at the beginning of the Finale, the “conflict” movement, the key switches to F minor, and only after a lengthy battle gets back to D, near the end.
The Second Symphony begins in C minor and ends in E flat.
The movements of the Fifth Symphony progress successively from C-sharp minor to A minor, then D major, F major and finally to D major.
The Sixth Symphony, unusually for Mahler, begins and ends in the same key, A minor, signifying that in this case the conflict is unresolved.

Freud – Wien Träumende – Vienna Dreaming

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014


Sigmund Freud

Psychology’s most famous figure is also one of the most influential and controversial thinkers of the twentieth century.

Sigmund Freud’s work and theories helped shape our views of childhood, personality, memory, sexuality and therapy.

Other major thinkers have contributed work that grew out of Freud’s legacy, while others developed new theories out of opposition to his ideas.

Sigmund Freud – (6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist who became known as the founding father of psychoanalysis.

Freud qualified as a doctor of medicine at the University of Vienna in 1881, and then carried out research into cerebral palsy, aphasia and microscopic neuroanatomy at the Vienna General Hospital.

He was appointed a university lecturer in neuropathology in 1885 and became a professor in 1902.

In creating psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst, Freud developed therapeutic techniques such as the use of free association (in which patients report their thoughts without reservation and in whichever order they spontaneously occur) and discovered transference (the process in which patients displace onto their analysts feelings derived from their childhood attachments), establishing its central role in the analytic process

Freud’s redefinition of sexuality to include its infantile forms led him to formulate the ‘Oedipus Complex’ as the central tenet of psychoanalytical theory.

His analysis of his own and his patients’ dreams as wish-fulfilments provided him with models for the clinical analysis of symptom formation and the mechanisms of repression as well as for elaboration of his theory of the unconscious as an agency disruptive of conscious states of mind.

Freud postulated the existence of libido, an energy with which mental processes and structures are invested, and which generates erotic attachments, and a death drive (Thanatos), the source of repetition, hate, aggression and neurotic guilt.

In his later work Freud drew on psychoanalytic theory to develop a wide-ranging interpretation and critique of religion and culture.
Freud’s work has suffused contemporary thought and popular culture to the extent that in 1939 W. H. Auden wrote, in a poem dedicated to him: “to us he is no more a person / now but a whole climate of opinion / under whom we conduct our different lives”.

Early Life and Education

Freud was born to Jewish Galician parents in the town of Freiberg in Mähren, in the Austrian Empire, the first of their eight children.

His father, Jacob Freud (1815–1896), a wool merchant, had two sons, Emanuel (1833–1914) and Philipp (1836–1911), from his first marriage. Jacob’s family were Hasidic Jews, and though Jacob himself had moved away from the tradition, he came to be known for his Torah study.
He and Freud’s mother, Amalia (née Nathansohn), 20 years her husband’s junior and his third wife, were married by Rabbi Isaac Noah Mannheimer on 29 July 1855.
They were struggling financially and living in a rented room, in a locksmith’s house at Schlossergasse 117 when their son Sigmund was born.
He was born with a caul, which his mother saw as a positive omen for the boy’s future.
In 1859 the Freud family left Freiberg.
Freud’s half brothers emigrated to Manchester, England, parting him from the “inseparable” playmate of his early childhood, Emanuel’s son, John. Jacob Freud took his wife and two children (Freud’s sister, Anna, was born in 1858; a brother, Julius, had died in infancy) firstly to Leipzig and then in 1860 to Vienna where four sisters (Rosa, Marie, Adolfine and Paula) and a brother (Alexander) were born.
In 1865, the nine-year-old Freud entered the Leopoldstädter Kommunal-Realgymnasium, a prominent high school.
He proved an outstanding pupil and graduated from the Matura in 1873 with honors.
He loved literature and was proficient in German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Hebrew, Latin and Greek.
Freud read William Shakespeare in English throughout his life, and it has been suggested that his understanding of human psychology was partly derived from Shakespeare’s plays.
Freud entered the University of Vienna at age 17.
He had planned to study law, but joined the medical faculty at the university, where his studies included philosophy under Franz Brentano, physiology under Ernst Brücke, and zoology under Darwinist professor Carl Claus.
In 1876 Freud spent four weeks at Claus’s zoological research station in Trieste, dissecting hundreds of eels in an inconclusive search for their male reproductive organs.
He graduated with an MD in 1881.

Early Career and Marriage

Freud was born to Jewish Galician parents in the town of Freiberg in Mähren, in the Austrian Empire, the first of their eight children.
His father, Jacob Freud (1815–1896), a wool merchant, had two sons, Emanuel (1833–1914) and Philipp (1836–1911), from his first marriage.
Jacob’s family were Hasidic Jews, and though Jacob himself had moved away from the tradition, he came to be known for his Torah study.
He and Freud’s mother, Amalia (née Nathansohn), 20 years her husband’s junior and his third wife, were married by Rabbi Isaac Noah Mannheimer on 29 July 1855.
They were struggling financially and living in a rented room, in a locksmith’s house at Schlossergasse 117 when their son Sigmund was born.
He was born with a caul, which his mother saw as a positive omen for the boy’s future. In 1859 the Freud family left Freiberg.
Freud’s half brothers emigrated to Manchester, England, parting him from the “inseparable” playmate of his early childhood, Emanuel’s son, John.
Jacob Freud took his wife and two children (Freud’s sister, Anna, was born in 1858; a brother, Julius, had died in infancy) firstly to Leipzig and then in 1860 to Vienna where four sisters (Rosa, Marie, Adolfine and Paula) and a brother (Alexander) were born.
In 1865, the nine-year-old Freud entered the Leopoldstädter Kommunal-Realgymnasium, a prominent high school.
He proved an outstanding pupil and graduated from the Matura in 1873 with honors.
He loved literature and was proficient in German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Hebrew, Latin and Greek.
Freud read William Shakespeare in English throughout his life, and it has been suggested that his understanding of human psychology was partly derived from Shakespeare’s plays.
Freud entered the University of Vienna at age 17.
He had planned to study law, but joined the medical faculty at the university, where his studies included philosophy under Franz Brentano, physiology under Ernst Brücke, and zoology under Darwinist professor Carl Claus.
In 1876 Freud spent four weeks at Claus’s zoological research station in Trieste, dissecting hundreds of eels in an inconclusive search for their male reproductive organs.
He graduated with an MD in 1881.

Charles Darwin
Ex Libris – Sigmund Freud

Freud had greatly admired his philosophy tutor, Brentano, who was known for his theories of perception and introspection, as well as Theodor Lipps who was one of the main contemporary theorists of the concepts of the unconscious and empathy.

Brentano discussed the possible existence of the unconscious mind in his 1874 book Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint.
Although Brentano denied the existence of the unconscious, his discussion of it probably helped introduce Freud to the concept.

Eduard von Hartmann

Freud owned and made use of Charles Darwin’s major evolutionary writings, and was also influenced by Eduard von Hartmann’s ‘The Philosophy of the Unconscious’.

He read Friedrich Nietzsche as a student, and analogies between his work and that of Nietzsche were pointed out almost as soon as he developed a following.
In 1900, the year of Nietzsche’s death, Freud bought his collected works; he told his friend, Fliess, that he hoped to find in Nietzsche’s works “the words for much that remains mute in me.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philologist, philosopher, cultural critic, poet and composer. He wrote several critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and aphorism.
Nietzsche’s key ideas include the Apollonian/Dionysian dichotomy, perspectivism, the Will to Power, the “death of God”, the Übermensch and eternal recurrence. One of the key tenets of his philosophy is the concept of “life-affirmation,” which embraces the realities of the world we live now in over the idea of a world beyond. It further champions the creative powers of the individual to strive beyond social, cultural, and moral contexts. His radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth has been the focus of extensive commentary, and his influence remains substantial, particularly in the continental philosophical schools of existentialism, postmodernism, and post-structuralism. His ideas of individual overcoming and transcendence beyond structure and context have had a profound impact on late-twentieth and early-twenty-first century thinkers, who have used these concepts as points of departure in the development of their philosophies.

His interest in philosophy declined after he had decided on a career in neurology and psychiatry.

Sigmund Freud – A Life in Photos
Development of Psychoanalysis

In October 1885, Freud went to Paris on a fellowship to study with Jean-Martin Charcot, a renowned neurologist who was conducting scientific research into hypnosis.
He was later to recall the experience of this stay as catalytic in turning him toward the practice of medical psychopathology and away from a less financially promising career in neurology research.

Une leçon clinique à la Salpêtrière

Charcot specialized in the study of hysteria and susceptibility to hypnosis, which he frequently demonstrated with patients on stage in front of an audience.

Once he had set up in private practice in 1886, Freud began using hypnosis in his clinical work. 
He adopted the approach of his friend and collaborator, Josef Breuer, in a use of hypnosis which was different from the French methods he had studied in that it did not use suggestion. 

Josef Breuer (January 15, 1842 – June 20, 1925) was a distinguished Austrian physician who made key discoveries in neurophysiology, and whose work in the 1880s with a patient known as Anna O. developed the talking cure (cathartic method) and laid the foundation to psychoanalysis as developed by his protégé Sigmund Freud.
Breuer is perhaps best known for his work in the 1880s with Anna O. (the pseudonym of Bertha Pappenheim), a woman suffering from “paralysis of her limbs, and anaesthesias, as well as disturbances of vision and speech.” Breuer observed that her symptoms reduced or disappeared after she described them to him. Anna O. humorously called this procedure chimney sweeping. She also coined the more serious appellation for this form of therapy, talking cure. Breuer later referred to it as the “cathartic method”.
Breuer was then a mentor to the young Sigmund Freud, and had helped set him up in medical practice. Ernest Jones recalled, “Freud was greatly interested in hearing of the case of Anna O, which made a deep impression on him”; and in his 1909 Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, Freud generously pointed out, “I was a student and working for my final examinations at the time when  Breuer, first (in 1880-2) made use of this procedure. Never before had anyone removed a hysterical symptom by such a method.”

The treatment of one particular patient of Breuer’s proved to be transformative for Freud’s clinical practice.
Described as ‘Anna O‘, she was invited to talk about her symptoms while under hypnosis (she would coin the phrase “talking cure” for her treatment).
In the course of talking in this way, these symptoms became reduced in severity as she retrieved memories of traumatic incidents associated with their onset.
This led Freud to eventually establish in the course of his clinical practice that a more consistent and effective pattern of symptom relief could be achieved, without recourse to hypnosis, by encouraging patients to talk freely about whatever ideas or memories occurred to them.

In addition to this procedure, which he called “free association“, Freud found that patient’s dreams could be fruitfully analysed to reveal the complex structuring of unconscious material, and to demonstrate the psychic action of repression which underlay symptom formation.
By 1896, Freud had abandoned hypnosis, and was using the term “psychoanalysis” to refer to his new clinical method and the theories on which it was based.

Freud’s development of these new theories took place during a period in which he experienced heart irregularities, disturbing dreams and periods of depression, a “neurasthenia” which he linked to the death of his father in 1896, and which prompted a “self-analysis” of his own dreams and memories of childhood.
His explorations of his feelings of hostility to his father and rivalrous jealousy over his mother’s affections led him to a fundamental revision of his theory of the origin of the neuroses.
On the basis of his early clinical work, Freud had postulated that unconscious memories of sexual molestation in early childhood were a necessary precondition for the psychoneuroses (hysteria and obsessional neurosis), a formulation now known as ‘Freud’s seduction theory‘.
In the light of his self-analysis, Freud abandoned the theory that every neurosis can be traced back to the effects of infantile sexual abuse, now arguing that infantile sexual scenarios still had a causative function, but it did not matter whether they were real or imagined, and that in either case they became pathogenic only when acting as repressed memories.

Oedipus Complex ?

This transition from the ‘theory of infantile sexual trauma‘ as a general explanation of how all neuroses originate to one that presupposes an autonomous infantile sexuality provided the basis for Freud’s subsequent formulation of the theory of the ‘Oedipus Complex’.

Freud described the evolution of his clinical method and set out his theory of the ‘psychogenetic origins of hysteria‘, demonstrated in a number of case histories, in ‘Studies on Hysteria’ published in 1895 (co-authored with Josef Breuer).
In 1889 Freud published ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ in which, following a critical review of existing theory, Freud gives detailed interpretations of his own and his patients dreams in terms of wish-fulfilments made subject to the repression and censorship of the “dream work”. 
He then sets out the theoretical model of mental structure (the unconscious, pre-conscious and conscious) on which this account is based.
An abridged version, ‘On Dreams’, was published in 1901.
In works which would win him a more general readership, Freud applied his theories outside the clinical setting in ‘The Psychopathology of Everyday Life’ (1901), and ‘Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious’ (1905).
In ‘Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality’, published in 1905, Freud elaborates his theory of infantile sexuality, describing its “polymorphous perverse” forms, and the functioning of the “drives”, to which it gives rise, in the formation of sexual identity.
The same year he published ‘Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (Dora)’ which became one of his more famous and controversial case studies.
Early Followers

Freud spent most of his life in Vienna.
From 1891 until 1938, he and his family lived in an apartment at Berggasse 19 near the Innere Stadt or historical quarter of Vienna.

Universität Wien

As a docent of the University of Vienna, Freud, since the mid-1880s, had been delivering lectures on his theories to small audiences every Saturday evening at the lecture hall of the university’s psychiatric clinic.

He gave lectures in the university every year from 1886 to 1919.
His work generated a considerable degree of interest from a small group of Viennese physicians.
From the autumn of 1902 and shortly after his promotion to the honorific title of Außerordentlicher Professor, a small group of followers formed around him, meeting at his apartment every Wednesday afternoon, to discuss issues relating to psychology and neuropathology.
This group was called the Psychologische Mittwochs-Gesellschaft, and it marked the beginnings of the worldwide psychoanalytic movement.
This discussion group was founded around Freud at the suggestion of the physician Wilhelm Stekel.
Wilhelm Stekel 

Wilhelm Stekel (March 18, 1868 – June 25, 1940) was an Austrian physician and psychologist, who became one of Sigmund Freud’s earliest followers, and was once described as “Freud’s most distinguished pupil. ‘Stekel may be accorded the honour, together with Freud, of having founded the first psycho-analytic society‘. He later had a falling-out with Freud. His works are translated and published in many languages.

Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing 

Stekel had studied medicine at the University of Vienna under Richard von Krafft-Ebing.

Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing (14 August 1840 – 22 December 1902) was an Austro–German psychiatrist and author of the foundational work ‘Psychopathia Sexualis’.
Krafft-Ebing, born in Mannheim, Germany, studied medicine at the University of Heidelberg, where he specialized in psychiatry. He later practised in psychiatric asylums. After leaving his work in asylums, he pursued a career in psychiatry, forensics, and hypnosis.

His conversion to psychoanalysis is variously attributed to his successful treatment by Freud for a sexual problem, or as a result of his reading ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’, to which he subsequently gave a positive review in the Viennese daily newspaper’ Neues Wiener Tagblatt’.
The other three original members whom Freud invited to attend, Alfred Adler, Max Kahane, and Rudolf Reitler, were also physicians.
Both Kahane and Reitler were childhood friends of Freud.
Kahane had attended the same secondary school and both he and Reitler went to university with Freud.
They had kept abreast of Freud’s developing ideas through their attendance at his Saturday evening lectures.
In 1901, Kahane, who first introduced Stekel to Freud’s work, had opened an out-patient psychotherapy institute of which he was the director in Bauernmarkt, in Vienna.
In the same year, his medical textbook,’ Outline of Internal Medicine for Students and Practicing Physicians’ was published.
In it, he provided an outline of Freud’s psychoanalytic method.
Kahane broke with Freud in 1907 for unknown reasons, and in 1923 committed suicide.
Reitler was the director of an establishment providing thermal cures in Dorotheergasse which had been founded in 1901.
He died prematurely in 1917.
Adler, regarded as the most formidable intellect among the early Freudian circle who, in 1898, had written a health manual for the tailoring trade.
He was particularly interested in the potential social impact of psychiatry.
Max Graf, a Viennese musicologist and father of “Little Hans”, who had first encountered Freud in 1900, and joined the Psychologische Mittwochs-Gesellschaft soon after its initial inception, described the ritual and atmosphere of the early meetings of the society:
The gatherings followed a definite ritual.
First one of the members would present a paper.
Then, black coffee and cakes were served; cigar and cigarettes were on the table and were consumed in great quantities.
After a social quarter of an hour, the discussion would begin.
The last and decisive word was always spoken by Freud himself.
There was the atmosphere of the foundation of a religion in that room.
Freud himself was its new prophet, who made the heretofore prevailing methods of psychological investigation appear superficial.
By 1906, the group had grown to sixteen members, including Otto Rank, who was employed as the group’s paid secretary.
Also in that year Freud began correspondence with Jung who was then an assistant to Eugen Bleuler at the Burghölzli Mental Hospital in Zürich.
In March 1907 Jung and Ludwig Binswanger, also a Swiss psychiatrist, travelled to Vienna to visit Freud and attend the discussion group.
Thereafter they established a small psychoanalytic group in Zürich.
In 1908, reflecting its growing institutional status, the Psychologische Mittwochs-Gesellschaft was renamed the Wiener Psychoanalytischen Vereinigung.
In 1911, the first women members were admitted to the Society.
Tatiana Rosenthal and Sabina Spielrein were both Russian psychiatrists, and graduates of the Zürich University medical school.
Prior to the completion of her studies, Spielrein had been a patient of Jung at the Burghölzli and the clinical and personal details of their relationship became the subject of an extensive correspondence between Freud and Jung.
Both women would go on to make important contributions to the work of Russian Psychoanalytic Society which was founded in 1910.
Freud’s early followers met together formally for the first time at the Hotel Bristol, Salzburg on 27 April 1908.
This meeting, which was retrospectively deemed to be the first Internationalen Psychoanalytischen Kongress, was convened at the suggestion of Ernest Jones, then a London based neurologist, who had discovered Freud’s writings and begun applying psychoanalytic methods in his clinical work.
Jones had met Jung at a conference the previous year and they met up again in Zürich to organize the Kongress.
There were, as Jones records, “forty-two present, half of whom were or became practicing analysts”.
In addition to Jones and the Viennese and Zürich contingents accompanying Freud and Jung, also present and notable for their subsequent importance in the psychoanalytic movement were Abraham and Max Eitingon from Berlin, Sándor Ferenczi from Budapest and the New York based Abraham Brill.
Important decisions were taken at the Kongress with a view to advancing the impact of Freud’s work.
A journal, the ‘Jahrbuch fur psychoanlytische und psychopathologishe Forschungen’, was launched in 1909 under the editorship of Jung.
This was followed in 1910 by the monthly ‘Zentralblatt fur Psychoanalyse’ edited by Adler and Stekel, in 1911 by ‘Imago’, a journal devoted to the application of psychoanalysis to the field of cultural and literary studies edited by Rank and in 1913 by the ‘Internationale Zeitschrift fur Psychoanalyse’, also edited by Rank.
Plans for an Internationale Vereinigung der Psychoanalytikers were put in place, and these were implemented at the Nürnberg Congress of 1910, where Jung was elected, with Freud’s support, as its first president.
Freud turned to Brill and Jones to further his ambition to spread the psychoanalytic cause in the English-speaking world.
Both were invited to Vienna following the Salzburg Congress and a division of labour was agreed with Brill given the translation rights for Freud’s works, and Jones, who was to take up a post at Toronto University later in the year, tasked with establishing a platform for Freudian ideas in North American academic and medical life.
Jones’s advocacy prepared the way for Freud’s visit to the United States, accompanied by Jung and Ferenczi, in September 1909 at the invitation of Stanley Hall, president of Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, where he gave five lectures on psychoanalysis.
When the ocean liner George Washington arrived in New York, Freud is rumoured to have remarked to Jung, “They don’t realize that we are bringing them the plague.”
The event, at which Freud was awarded an Honorary Doctorate, marked the first public recognition of Freud’s work and attracted widespread media interest.
Freud’s audience included the distinguished neurologist and psychiatrist James Jackson Putnam, Professor of Diseases of the Nervous System at Harvard, who invited Freud to his country retreat, where they held extensive discussions over a period of four days.
Putnam’s subsequent public endorsement of Freud’s work represented a significant breakthrough for the psychoanalytic cause in the United States.
When Putnam and Jones organised the founding of the American Psychoanalytic Association in May 1911 they were elected president and secretary respectively.
Brill founded the New York Psychoanalytic Society the same year.
His translations of Freud’s work began to appear from 1909.
Early Work
Freud entered private practice in neurology for financial reasons, receiving his M.D. degree in 1881 at the age of 25.
Amongst his principal concerns in the 1880s was the anatomy of the brain, specifically the medulla oblongata.
He intervened in the important debates about aphasia with his monograph of 1891, ‘Zur Auffassung der Aphasien’, in which he coined the term agnosia, and counselled against a too locationist view of the explanation of neurological deficits.
Like his contemporary Eugen Bleuler, he emphasized brain function rather than brain structure.
Freud was also an early researcher in the field of cerebral palsy, which was then known as “cerebral paralysis”.
He published several medical papers on the topic, and showed that the disease existed long before other researchers of the period began to notice and study it.
He also suggested that William Little, the man who first identified cerebral palsy, was wrong about lack of oxygen during birth being a cause.
Instead, he suggested that complications in birth were only a symptom.
Freud hoped that his research would provide a solid scientific basis for his therapeutic technique.
The goal of Freudian therapy, or psychoanalysis, was to bring repressed thoughts and feelings into consciousness in order to free the patient from suffering repetitive distorted emotions.
Classically, the bringing of unconscious thoughts and feelings to consciousness is brought about by encouraging a patient to talk about dreams and engage in free association, in which patients report their thoughts without reservation and make no attempt to concentrate while doing so.
Another important element of psychoanalysis is transference, the process by which patients displace onto their analysts feelings and ideas which derive from previous figures in their lives. 
Transference was first seen as a regrettable phenomenon that interfered with the recovery of repressed memories, and disturbed patients’ objectivity, but by 1912, Freud had come to see it as an essential part of the therapeutic process.
The origin of Freud’s early work with psychoanalysis can be linked to Josef Breuer.
Freud credited Breuer with opening the way to the discovery of the psychoanalytical method by his treatment of the case of Anna O.
In November 1880, Breuer was called in to treat a highly intelligent 21-year-old woman (Bertha Pappenheim) for a persistent cough that he diagnosed as hysterical.
He found that while nursing her dying father, she had developed a number of transitory symptoms, including visual disorders and paralysis and contractures of limbs, which he also diagnosed as hysterical.
Breuer began to see his patient almost every day as the symptoms increased and became more persistent, and observed that she entered states of absence.
He found that when, with his encouragement, she told fantasy stories in her evening states of absence her condition improved, and most of her symptoms had disappeared by April 1881. 
However, following the death of her father in that month her condition deteriorated again. 
Breuer recorded that some of the symptoms eventually remitted spontaneously, and that full recovery was achieved by inducing her to recall events that had precipitated the occurrence of a specific symptom.
In the years immediately following Breuer’s treatment, Anna O. spent three short periods in sanatoria with the diagnosis “hysteria” with “somatic symptoms”, and some authors have challenged Breuer’s published account of a cure.

Freud’s Major Theories

According to Freud, the mind can be divided into three different levels:
The conscious mind includes everything that we are aware of.
This is the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about rationally.
A part of this includes our memory, which is not always part of consciousness but can be retrieved easily at any time and brought into our awareness.
Freud called this the preconscious.

In Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality, the conscious mind consists of everything inside of our awareness. This is the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about in a rational way.
The conscious mind includes such things as the sensations, perceptions, memories, feeling and fantasies inside of our current awareness. Closely allied with the conscious mind is the preconscious, which includes the things that we are not thinking of at the moment but which we can easily draw into conscious awareness.
Things that the conscious mind wants to keep hidden from awareness are repressed into the unconscious mind. While we are unaware of these feelings, thoughts, urges and emotions, Freud believed that the unconscious mind could still have an influence on our behavior.Freud often used the metaphor of an iceberg to describe the two major aspects of human personality. The tip of the iceberg that extends above the water represents the conscious mind. As you can see in the image at the right, the conscious mind is just the “tip of the iceberg.” Beneath the water is the much larger bulk of the iceberg, which represents the unconscious.
While the conscious and preconscious are important, Freud believed that they were far less vital than the unconscious. The things that are hidden from awareness, he believed, exerted the greatest influence over our personalities and behaviors
The preconscious mind is the part of the mind that represents ordinary memory.
While we are not consciously aware of this information at any given time, we can retrieve it and pull it into consciousness when needed.

In Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality, the preconscious mind is a part of the mind that corresponds to ordinary memory. These memories are not conscious, but we can retrieve them to conscious awareness at any time.
While these memories are not part of your immediate awareness, they can be quickly brought into awareness through conscious effort. For example, if you were asked what television show you watched last night or what you had for breakfast this morning, you would be pulling that information out of your preconscious.

A helpful way to think of the preconscious is that it acts as a sort of gatekeeper between the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind. It allows only certain pieces of information to pass through and enter conscious awareness.

The unconscious mind is a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that outside of our conscious awareness. Most of the contents of the unconscious are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict. 

According to Freud, the unconscious continues to influence our behaviour and experience, even though we are unaware of these underlying influences.
Freud likened these three levels of mind to an iceberg.
The top of the iceberg that you can see above the water represents the conscious mind.
The part of the iceberg that is submerged below the water but is still visible is the preconscious. 
The bulk of the iceberg lies unseen beneath the waterline and represents the unconscious.
Each person also possesses a certain amount of psychological energy that forms the three basic structures of personality: the id, the ego, and the superego. These three structures have different roles and operate at different levels of the mind. In the next article in this series, learn more about the functions of each of these structures.
According to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality, personality is composed of three elements.
These three elements of personality – known as the id, the ego and the superego – work together to create complex human behaviours.

The Id

Das Es – the id – is the only component of personality that is present from birth.
This aspect of personality is entirely unconscious, and includes of the instinctive and primitive behaviours.
According to Freud, the id is the source of all psychic energy, making it the primary component of personality.
The id is driven by the pleasure principle, which strives for immediate gratification of all desires, wants, and needs.

The pleasure principle is the instinctual seeking of pleasure and avoiding of pain in order to satisfy biological and psychological needs. Specifically, the pleasure principle is the driving force guiding the id.

If these needs are not satisfied immediately, the result is a state anxiety or tension.
The id is very important early in life, because it ensures that an infant’s needs are met.
However, immediately satisfying these needs is not always realistic or even possible.
If we were ruled entirely by the pleasure principle, we might find ourselves grabbing things we want out of other people’s hands to satisfy our own cravings.
This sort of behaviour would be both disruptive and socially unacceptable.
According to Freud, the id tries to resolve the tension created by the pleasure principle through the primary process, which involves forming a mental image of the desired object as a way of satisfying the need.
According to Freud the id is unconscious by definition:
It is the dark, inaccessible part of our personality, what little we know of it we have learned from our study of the Dreamwork, and of the construction of neurotic symptoms, and most of that is of a negative character and can be described only as a contrast to the ego. We approach the id with analogies: we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations…. It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organization, produces no collective will, but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle.
In the id:
contrary impulses exist side by side, without cancelling each other out…. There is nothing in the id that could be compared with negation … nothing in the id which corresponds to the idea of time.
Developmentally, the id precedes the ego; i.e. the psychic apparatus begins, at birth, as an undifferentiated id, part of which then develops into a structured ego.
Thus, the id:
contains everything that is inherited, that is present at birth, is laid down in the constitution — above all, therefore, the instincts, which originate from the somatic organization, and which find a first psychical expression here (in the id) in forms unknown to us.”
The id:
knows no judgements of value: no good and evil, no morality…. Instinctual cathexes seeking discharge – that, in our view, is all there is in the id.”
It is regarded as: “the great reservoir of libido“, the instinctive drive to create – the life instincts that are crucial to pleasurable survival.
Alongside the life instincts came the ‘death instinct‘ – Thanatos – which Freud articulated relatively late in his career in “the hypothesis of a death instinct, the task of which is to lead organic life back into the inanimate state.”
For Freud, “the death instinct would thus seem to express itself – though probably only in part – as an instinct of destruction directed against the external world and other organisms”through aggression.
Freud considered that “the id, the whole person … originally includes all the instinctual impulses … the destructive instinct as well.” as ‘Eros’, or the ‘life instinct‘.

The Ego

The ego (Das Ich), is the component of personality that is responsible for dealing with reality.
According to Freud, the ego develops from the id, and ensures that the impulses of the id can be expressed in a manner acceptable in the real world.
The ego functions in both the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious mind.
The ego operates based on the ‘reality principle’, which strives to satisfy the id’s desires in realistic and socially appropriate ways.

The reality principle is the ability of the mind to assess the reality of the external world, and to act upon it accordingly, as opposed to acting on the pleasure principle.
Rebellion against the constraints of the reality principle, in favour of a belief in infantile omnipotence, appears as a feature of all neurotic behaviour.
Psychosis can be seen as the result of the suspension of the reality principle, while sleep and dreaming offer a ‘normal’ everyday example of its decommissioning.
The reality principle increases its scope in the wake of puberty, expanding the range and maturity of the choices the individual makes.
A further change in the reality principle from adolescence to adulthood can be a critical transition in its consolidation; but the impact of certain traumatic experiences may prove to be detrimental from within the unconscious. In the new reality principle, the individual must find themselves to be represented as a strong presence within their own mind and making reasoned decisions, instead of being merely perceived. It is the culmination of the way in which an adolescent learns to experience oneself in the context of their external reality.

The reality principle weighs the costs and benefits of an action before deciding to act upon or abandon impulses.
In many cases, the id’s impulses can be satisfied through a process of delayed gratification – the ego will eventually allow the behaviour, but only in the appropriate time and place.
The ego also discharges tension created by unmet impulses through the secondary process, in which the ego tries to find an object in the real world that matches the mental image created by the id’s primary process.
The ego is that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world…. The ego represents what may be called reason and common sense, in contrast to the id, which contains the passions … in its relation to the id it is like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse; with this difference, that the rider tries to do so with his own strength, while the ego uses borrowed forces.
Still worse, “it serves three severe masters … the external world, the super-ego and the id.
Its task is to find a balance between primitive drives and reality while satisfying the id and super-ego.
Its main concern is with the individual’s safety and allows some of the id’s desires to be expressed, but only when consequences of these actions are marginal.
Thus the ego, driven by the id, confined by the super-ego, repulsed by reality, struggles … [in] bringing about harmony among the forces and influences working in and upon it,” and readily “breaks out in anxiety — realistic anxiety regarding the external world, moral anxiety regarding the super-ego, and neurotic anxiety regarding the strength of the passions in the id.
It has to do its best to suit all three, thus is constantly feeling hemmed by the danger of causing discontent on two other sides.
It is said, however, that the ego seems to be more loyal to the id, preferring to gloss over the finer details of reality to minimize conflicts while pretending to have a regard for reality.
But the super-ego is constantly watching every one of the ego’s moves and punishes it with feelings of guilt, anxiety, and inferiority.
To overcome this the ego employs defence mechanisms.
The defence mechanisms are not done so directly or consciously.
They lessen the tension by covering up our impulses that are threatening.
Ego defence mechanisms are often used by the ego when id behaviour conflicts with reality and either society’s morals, norms, and taboos or the individual’s expectations as a result of the internalization of these morals, norms, and their taboos.
Denial, displacement, internationalisation, fantasy, compensation, projection, rationalization, reaction formation, regression, repression, and sublimation were the ‘defence mechanisms’ Freud identified, however, his daughter Anna Freud clarified and identified the concepts of undoing, suppression, dissociation, idealization, identification, introjection, inversion, somatisation, splitting, and substitution.

The Superego

The last component of personality to develop is the superego (Das Über-Ich).
The superego is the aspect of personality that holds all of our internalized moral standards and ideals that we acquire from both parents and society – our sense of right and wrong.
The superego provides guidelines for making judgments.
According to Freud, the superego begins to emerge at around age five.
There are two parts of the superego:
The ego ideal includes the rules and standards for good behaviours.
These behaviours include those which are approved of by parental and other authority figures. Obeying these rules leads to feelings of pride, value and accomplishment.
The conscience includes information about things that are viewed as bad by parents and society.
These behaviours are often forbidden, and lead to bad consequences, punishments or feelings of guilt and remorse.
The superego acts to perfect and civilize our behaviour.
It works to suppress all unacceptable urges of the id, and struggles to make the ego act upon idealistic standards rather that upon realistic principles.
The superego is present in the conscious, preconscious and unconscious.
Freud’s theory implies that the super-ego is a symbolic internalisation of the father figure, and cultural regulations.
The super-ego tends to stand in opposition to the desires of the id because of their conflicting objectives, and its aggressiveness towards the ego.
The super-ego acts as the conscience, maintaining our sense of morality and proscription from taboos.
The super-ego and the ego are the product of two key factors: the state of helplessness of the child and the Oedipus complex.
Its formation takes place during the dissolution of the ‘Oedipus Complex’, and is formed by an identification with and internalisation of the father figure after the little boy cannot successfully hold the mother as a love-object out of fear of castration.
The super-ego retains the character of the father, while the more powerful the Oedipus complex was and the more rapidly it succumbed to repression (under the influence of authority, religious teaching, schooling and reading), the stricter will be the domination of the super-ego over the ego later on – in the form of conscience or perhaps of an unconscious sense of guilt.”
In Sigmund Freud’s work ‘Civilization and Its Discontents’ (1930), he also discusses the concept of a “cultural super-ego“.
Freud suggested that the demands of the super-ego “coincide with the precepts of the prevailing cultural super-ego. At this point the two processes, that of the cultural development of the group and that of the cultural development of the individual, are, as it were, always interlocked.
Ethics are a central element in the demands of the cultural super-ego, but Freud (as analytic moralist) protested against what he called “the unpsychological proceedings of the cultural super-ego … the ethical demands of the cultural super-ego. It does not trouble itself enough about the facts of the mental constitution of human beings.

The terms “id”, “ego”, and “super-ego” are not Freud’s own. They are latinisations by his translator James Strachey. Freud himself wrote of “das Es,” “das Ich,” and “das Über-Ich” – respectively, “the It”, “the I”, and the “Over-I” –  thus to the German reader, Freud’s original terms are more or less self-explanatory. Freud borrowed the term “das Es” from Georg Groddeck, a German physician to whose unconventional ideas Freud was much attracted (Groddeck’s translators render the term in English as “the It”). The word ego is taken directly from Latin, where it is the nominative of the first person singular personal pronoun and is translated as “I myself” to express emphasis.

Defense Mechanisms

Defense mechanisms are unconscious psychic processes that provide the ego with relief from the state of psychic conflict between the intruding id, the threatening superego and the powerful influences emanating from the external reality.
Due to these forces in the mind opposing and battling against each other, anxiety signals an internal danger.
These mechanisms come into play to enable the ego to reach compromise solutions to problems that it is unable to solve, by letting some component of the unwelcome mental contents emerge into consciousness in a disguised form.
How efficiently these mechanisms are to strengthen the ego, and to what extent they further different forms of compromise formations that may turn out to be psychoneurotic symptoms, depends on how successfully the ego reaches a higher or lesser degree of integration of these conflicting forces in the mind.
The more the ego is blocked in its development for being entangled in its earlier conflicts (fixations), clinging to archaic modes of functioning, the greater is the possibility of succumbing to these forces.
Anna Freud, in ‘The Ego and The Mechanisms of Defence’ (1946), formulates the hypothesis that what the ego fears most is the return to a previous stage of fusion with the id, in case repression fails or instincts are too intense.
In order to ensure the maintenance of the level of organization achieved, the ego has to protect itself from the invasion of instinctual demands (drives) of the id, and from the return of the repressed contents.
In fact, in the chapter “The Ego’s Dependent Relations”, in ‘The Id and the Ego’ (1923), Freud says: “psychoanalysis is the instrument to enable the ego to achieve a progressive conquest of the id“.
Psychoanalysis aims at transforming greater amounts of what once belonged to the id into acceptable possessions of the ego, along with its main purpose of turning unconscious contents into conscious ones.
Thus, the mind can find solutions that were previously unattainable to the immature ego.
The Major Defense Mechanisms:

1. Repression – the withdrawal from consciousness of an unwanted idea, affect, or desire by pushing it into the unconscious part of the mind.
2. Reaction formation – the fixation in consciousness of an idea, affect, or desire that is opposite to a feared unconscious impulse.
3. Projection – unwanted feelings are attributed to another person.
4. Regression – a return to forms of gratification belonging to earlier phases, due to conflicts arising at more developed stages.
5. Rationalization – the substitution of the true, but threatening cause of behavior for a safe and reasonable explanation.
6. Denial – the conscious refusal to perceive disturbing facts. It deprives the individual of the necessary awareness to cope with external challenges and the employment of adequate strategies for survival as well.
7. Displacement- the redirection of an urge onto a substitute outlet.
8. Undoing – is achieved through an act, which goal is the cancellation of a prior unpleasant experience.
9. Introjection – intimately related to identification, aims at solving some emotional difficulty of the individual by means of taking into his personality characteristics of someone else.
10. Sublimation – part of the energy invested in sexual impulses is shifted to the pursuit of socially valuable achievements, such as artistic or scientific endeavors.

Seduction Theory

In the early 1890s, Freud used a form of treatment based on the one that Breuer had described to him, modified by what he called his “pressure technique” and his newly developed analytic technique of interpretation and reconstruction.
According to Freud’s later accounts of this period, as a result of his use of this procedure most of his patients in the mid-1890s reported early childhood sexual abuse.
He believed these stories, which he used as the basis for his ‘seduction theory‘, but then he came to believe that they were fantasies.
He explained these at first as having the function of “fending off” memories of infantile masturbation, but in later years he wrote that they represented Oedipal fantasies, stemming from innate drives that are sexual and destructive in nature.
Another version of events focuses on Freud’s proposing that unconscious memories of infantile sexual abuse were at the root of the psychoneuroses in letters to Fliess in October 1895, before he reported that he had actually discovered such abuse among his patients.
In the first half of 1896, Freud published three papers, which led to his ‘seduction theory‘, stating that he had uncovered, in all of his current patients, deeply repressed memories of sexual abuse in early childhood.
In these papers, Freud recorded that his patients were not consciously aware of these memories, and must therefore be present as unconscious memories if they were to result in hysterical symptoms or obsessional neurosis.
The patients were subjected to considerable pressure to “reproduce” infantile sexual abuse “scenes” that Freud was convinced had been repressed into the unconscious.
Patients were generally unconvinced that their experiences of Freud’s clinical procedure indicated actual sexual abuse.
He reported that even after a supposed “reproduction” of sexual scenes the patients assured him emphatically of their disbelief.
As well as his pressure technique, Freud’s clinical procedures involved analytic inference and the symbolic interpretation of symptoms to trace back to memories of infantile sexual abuse.
His claim of one hundred percent confirmation of his theory only served to reinforce previously expressed reservations from his colleagues about the validity of findings obtained through his suggestive techniques.
Freud subsequently showed inconsistency as to whether his seduction theory was still compatible with his later findings.

The Unconscious

The concept of the unconscious was central to Freud’s account of the mind.
Freud believed that while poets and thinkers had long known of the existence of the unconscious, he had ensured that it received scientific recognition in the field of psychology, however, the concept made an informal appearance in Freud’s writings.
The unconscious was first introduced in connection with the phenomenon of repression, to explain what happens to ideas that are repressed.
Freud stated explicitly that the concept of the unconscious was based on the theory of repression.
He postulated a cycle in which ideas are repressed, but remain in the mind, removed from consciousness yet operative, then reappear in consciousness under certain circumstances. 
The postulate was based upon the investigation of cases of traumatic hysteria, which revealed cases where the behaviour of patients could not be explained without reference to ideas or thoughts of which they had no awareness.
This fact, combined with the observation that such behaviour could be artificially induced by hypnosis, in which ideas were inserted into people’s minds, suggested that ideas were operative in the original cases, even though their subjects knew nothing of them.
Freud, like Josef Breuer, found the hypothesis that hysterical manifestations were generated by ideas to be not only warranted, but given in observation.
Disagreement between them arose, however, when they attempted to give causal explanations of their data: Breuer favored a hypothesis of hypnoid states, while Freud postulated the mechanism of defense (see above).
Freud originally allowed that repression might be a conscious process, but by the time he wrote his second paper on the “Neuro-Psychoses of Defence” (1896), he apparently believed that repression, which he referred to as “the psychical mechanism of (unconscious) defense“, occurred on an unconscious level.
Freud further developed his theories about the unconscious in ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ (1899) and in ‘Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious’ (1905), where he dealt with condensation and displacement as inherent characteristics of unconscious mental activity. 
Freud presented his first systematic statement of his hypotheses about unconscious mental processes in 1912, in response to an invitation from the London Society of Psychical Research to contribute to its Proceedings.
In 1915, Freud expanded that statement into a more ambitious metapsychological paper, entitled “The Unconscious”.
In both these papers, when Freud tried to distinguish between his conception of the unconscious and those that pre-dated psychoanalysis, he found it in his postulation of ideas that are simultaneously latent and operative.

‘Die Traumdeutung’

The Nightmare
Johann Heinrich Füssli

The ‘Interpretation of Dreams’ introduces Freud’s theory of the unconscious (see above) with respect to dream interpretation, and also first discusses what would later become the theory of the ‘Oedipus Complex’ – (see below).
Freud revised the book at least eight times and, in the third edition, added an extensive section which treated dream symbolism very literally, following the influence of Wilhelm Stekel.
Freud said of this work, “Insight such as this falls to one’s lot but once in a lifetime.”
The initial print run of the book was very low – it took many years to sell out the first 600 copies. However, the work gained popularity as Freud did, and seven more editions were printed in his lifetime.
The text was translated from German into English by A. A. Brill, an American Freudian psychoanalyst, and later in an authorized translation by James Strachey, who was British. 
Because the book is very long and complex, Freud wrote an abridged version called ‘On Dreams’, which was published in 1901 as part of Lowenfeld and Kurella’s ‘Grenzfragen des Nerven und Seelenlebens’.
It was re-published in 1911 in slightly larger form as a book.
Freud spent the summer of 1895 at manor Belle Vue, near Grinzing in Austria, where he began the inception of ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’.
In a 1900 letter to Wilhelm Fliess, he wrote in commemoration of the place:
Do you suppose that some day a marble tablet will be placed on the house, inscribed with these words: ‘In this house on July 24th, 1895, the secret of dreams was revealed to Dr. Sigm. Freud’ ? At the moment I see little prospect of it.” – Freud in a letter to Wilhelm Fliess, June 12th, 1900

Overview of ‘Die Traumdeutung’

The Bee Sting
Salvador Dali

Dreams, in Freud’s view, are all forms of “wish fulfillment” – attempts by the unconscious to resolve a conflict of some sort, whether something recent or something from the recesses of the past (later in ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’, Freud would discuss dreams which do not appear to be wish-fulfilment).
Because the information in the unconscious is in an unruly and often disturbing form, a “censor” in the preconscious will not allow it to pass unaltered into the conscious.
During dreams, the preconscious is more lax in this duty than in waking hours, but is still attentive: as such, the unconscious must distort and warp the meaning of its information to make it through the censorship.
As such, images in dreams are often not what they appear to be, according to Freud, and need deeper interpretation if they are to inform on the structures of the unconscious.
Freud used to mention the dreams as “The Royal Road to the Unconscious“.
He proposed the ‘phenomenon of condensation‘; (see below) the idea that one simple symbol or image presented in a person’s dream may have multiple meanings.
For this very reason, Freud tried to focus on details during psychoanalysis and asked his patients about things they could even think trivial (i.e. while a patient was describing an experience in their dream, Freud could ask him/her: “was there any sign upon the walls ? What was it ?”).
As Freud was focusing upon the biologic drives of the individual (a fact that alienated him from several colleagues of his like Breuer, Jung and Adler), he stated that when we observe a hollow object in our dreams, like a box or a cave, this is a symbol of a womb, while an elongated object is a symbol for penis – or more correctly the phallus.
Due to these statements, Freud attracted much criticism from those who believed him a “sexist” or “misanthrope“, as he was alleged to have overemphasised the role of instinct, as though he believed people were “wild beasts“.


The first edition begins:
In the following pages, I shall demonstrate that there exists a psychological technique by which dreams may be interpreted and that upon the application of this method every dream will show itself to be a senseful psychological structure which may be introduced into an assignable place in the psychic activity of the waking state. I shall furthermore endeavor to explain the processes which give rise to the strangeness and obscurity of the dream, and to discover through them the psychic forces, which operate whether in combination or opposition, to produce the dream. This accomplished by investigation will terminate as it will reach the point where the problem of the dream meets broader problems, the solution of which must be attempted through other material.”
Freud begins his book in the first chapter titled “The Scientific Literature on the Problems of the Dream” by reviewing different scientific views on dream interpretation, which he finds interesting but not adequate.
He then makes his argument by describing a number of dreams which he claims illustrate his theory.
Freud describes three main types of dreams: 1. Direct prophecies received in the dream (chrematismos, oraculum); 2. The foretelling of a future event (orama, visio) 3. The symbolic dream, which requires interpretation (Interpretation of Dreams 5).
Much of Freud’s sources for analysis are in literature.
Many of his most important dreams are his own – his method is inaugurated with an analysis of his dream “Irma’s injection” – but many also come from patient case studies.

Theory of Dreams

In the psychodynamic perspective, the transferring of unconscious thoughts into consciousness is called ‘dreamwork‘.
In dreams, there are two different types of content, the manifest and latent content.
The latent content is the underlying, unconscious feelings and thoughts.
The manifest content is made up of a combination of the latent thoughts, and it is what is actually being seen in the dream.
According to Carl Jung’s principle of compensation, the reason that there is latent content in dreams is because the unconscious is making up for the limitations of the conscious mind.
Since the conscious mind cannot be aware of all things at once, the latent content allows for these hidden away thoughts to be unlocked.
Psychoanalysts use the knowledge of the process of dreamwork to analyse dreams.
In other words, the clinician will study the manifest content to understand what the latent content is trying to say.


To be able to understand dreamwork fully, a person needs to understand how the mind transfers the latent thoughts to manifest.
The first step is called condensation, and it is the combining of different unconscious thought into one.
The combining of the unconscious thoughts makes it easier for the mind to express them in the dream.
The step of condensation has two sub-steps, day residues and censorship.
Day residues are left over daily issues that bring up some unconscious thought.
The mind then displays this thought through a similar situation from the day.
Before the unconscious thoughts can be displayed they are censored.
Since many unconscious thoughts do not follow the moral code of society, the mind changes them to be more respectful.
This is done so that it does not cause the dreamer anxiety and therefore wake them up.
It is also due to censorship that multiple unconscious thoughts are combined, since it is hard to just have one slip through.
After condensation, another step in the formation of dreams is displacement.
This is where the dream directs feelings or desires onto an unrelated subject.
This is similar to the practice of transference, which is a common technique used in psychoanalysis.
Another step in the formation of dreams is symbolism.
Objects or situations in dreams, actually represent something else, commonly an unconscious thought or desire.
The fourth, and final step in formation is secondary revision.
In this step, all the thoughts are put together and are made coherent.
Also another point of this step is to make the dream relate to the dreamer.
These four steps put together make up dreamwork.

Der Ödipus-Komplex

The term ‘Oedipus Complex’ denotes the emotions and ideas that the mind keeps in the unconscious, via dynamic repression, that concentrates upon a child’s desire to sexually possess the parent of the opposite sex (e.g. males attracted to their mothers, whereas females are attracted to their fathers).

Oedipus and the Sphinx
Gustave Moreau
Frederic Leighton

Freud believed that the Oedipus complex is a desire for the parent in both males and females; 
Freud deprecated the term “Electra complex”, which was introduced by Carl Gustav Jung in regard to the Oedipus complex manifested in young girls.
The Oedipus complex occurs in the third – phallic stage (ages 3–6) – of the five psycho-sexual development stages: (i) the oral, (ii) the anal, (iii) the phallic, (iv) the latent, and (v) the genital – in which the source of libidinal pleasure is in a different erogenous zone of the infant’s body.
In classical psychoanalytic theory, child’s identification with the same-sex parent is the successful resolution of the Oedipus complex, a key psychological experience that is necessary for the development of a mature sexual role and identity.
Freud further proposed that boys and girls experience the complexes differently: boys in a form of castration anxiety, girls in a form of penis envy; and that unsuccessful resolution of the complexes might lead to neurosis and/or paedophilia.
Men and women who are fixated in the Oedipal stage of their psychosexual development might be considered “mother-fixated” and “father-fixated”.
In adult life this can lead to a choice of a sexual partner who resembles one’s parent.

Background to Der Ödipus-Komplex

Oedipus refers to a 5th-century BC Greek mythlogic character Oedipus, who unwittingly kills his father, Laius, and marries his mother, Jocasta.
A play based on the myth, ‘Oedipus Rex’, was written by Sophocles, ca. 429 BC.
Modern productions of Sophocles’ play were staged in Paris and Vienna in the 19th century and were phenomenally successful in the 1880s and 1890s. which Freud attended.
In his book ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ – (see above), he proposed that an Oedipal desire is a universal, psychological phenomenon innate (phylogenetic) to human beings, and the cause of much unconscious guilt.
He based this on his analysis of his feelings attending the play, his anecdotal observations of neurotic or normal children, and on the fact that the ‘Oedipus Rex’ play was effective on both ancient and modern audiences (he also claimed the play Hamlet was effective for the same reason).
Freud described the man Oedipus:
‘His destiny moves us only because it might have been ours – because the Oracle laid the same curse upon us before our birth as upon him. It is the fate of all of us, perhaps, to direct our first sexual impulse towards our mother and our first hatred and our first murderous wish against our father. Our dreams convince us that this is so.’

The Theory of Der Ödipus-Komplex

Oedipus and the Sphinx

In psychoanalytic theory, the Oedipus complex occurs during the phallic stage of psycho-sexual development (age 3–6 years), when also occurs the formation of the libido and the ego; yet it might manifest itself at an earlier age.
In the phallic stage, a boy’s decisive psycho-sexual experience is the Oedipus complex – his son-father competition for possession of mother.
It is in this third stage of psycho-sexual development that the child’s genitalia are his or her primary erogenous zone; thus, when children become aware of their bodies, the bodies of other children, and the bodies of their parents, they gratify physical curiosity by undressing and exploring themselves, each other, and their genitals, so learning the anatomic differences between “male” and “female”, and the gender differences between “boy” and “girl”.

Psychosexual Infantilism

Despite mother being the parent who primarily gratifies the child’s desires, the child begins forming a discrete sexual identity – “boy”, “girl” – that alters the dynamics of the parent and child relationship; the parents become objects of infantile libidinal energy.
The boy directs his libido (sexual desire) upon his mother, and directs jealousy and emotional rivalry against his father – because it is he who sleeps with his mother.

Moreover, to facilitate union with mother, the boy’s id wants to kill father (as did Oedipus), but the pragmatic ego, based upon the reality principle, knows that the father is the stronger of the two males competing to possess the one female.
Nonetheless, the boy remains ambivalent about his father’s place in the family, which is manifested as fear of castration by the physically greater father; the fear is an irrational, subconscious manifestation of the infantile id.

Psycho-logic Defence

In both sexes, defence mechanisms provide transitory resolutions of the conflict between the drives of the id and the drives of the ego.
The first defence mechanism is repression, the blocking of memories, emotional impulses, and ideas from the conscious mind; yet its action does not resolve the id–ego conflict.
The second defence mechanism is identification, by which the child incorporates, to his or her (super)ego, the personality characteristics of the same-sex parent; in so adapting, the boy diminishes his castration anxiety, because his likeness to father protects him from father’s wrath in their maternal rivalry; by so adapting, the girl facilitates identifying with mother, who understands that, in being females, neither of them possesses a penis, and thus are not antagonists.


Unresolved son–father competition for the psycho-sexual possession mother might result in a phallic stage fixation, conducive to a boy becoming an aggressive, over-ambitious, vain man. Therefore, the satisfactory parental handling and resolution of the Oedipus complex are most important in developing the male infantile super-ego, because, by identifying with a parent, the boy internalizes Morality, thereby, he chooses to comply with societal rules, rather than reflexively complying in fear of punishment.

to be continued

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

Nürnberg – Architecture and Spectacle

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Nürnberg – Architecture and Spectacle

No city in the Third Reich was as important symbolically as Nürnberg – the official site of the Nürnberg Reichsparteitag.

The rallies, held in Nürnberg on two occasions during the 1920s and on an annual basis throughout much of the 1930s, were a series of gigantic, theatrically staged celebrations of unity and power.
Triumph des Willens
Leni Riefenstahl
Extensively covered in the media, and vividly captured in Leni Riefenstahl’s classic film, ‘Triumph des Willens’, the rallies captured the attention of the world, leaving both Germans and non-Germans alike suspended in a state of fascination and admiration.

Triumph des Willens
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

1934 – The 6th Party Congress was held in Nuremberg, September 5-10, 1934. Initially it did not have a theme. Later it was labelled the “Rally of Unity and Strength” (Reichsparteitag der Einheit und Stärke), “Rally of Power” (Reichsparteitag der Macht), or “Rally of Will” (Reichsparteitag des Willens).
‘Triumph des Willens’ is a 1935 film made by Leni Riefenstahl. It chronicles the 1934 Party Congress in Nuremberg, which was attended by more than 700,000 supporters. The film contains excerpts from speeches given by various Nazi leaders at the Congress. 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 leader who will bring glory to the nation.

Even today the city of Nürnberg continues to live on in the memory of Germans ‘as the symbolic place of National Socialist rule.‘”
Geographers exploring the linkages between spectacle, identity and place have often approached landscapes as texts to be read.
More recently, scholars have emphasized the ways in which these landscapes serve as a type of stage for human action.
Whereas the metaphor of the text implies a rather passive role for landscape, the idea of landscape as a stage, and an emphasis on the role of performance, recognize a greater degree of dynamism and interaction between people and place. 
This notion of landscape as theatre could be further extended, not solely as the backdrop in which the action takes place but as actively constituting the action.
The stage acts more than as the context for the performance; it is the performance itself.

The Nürnberg Party Rallies were political spectacles designed to generate public support for the National Socialist regime through the performance of an annual ritual, characterized by a high degree of mass pageantry.
To be effective, spectacles of this kind are often situated in landscapes endowed with a history capable of evoking a particularly powerful sense of national pride and belonging.
Nürnberg served well this requirement.

Nürnberg Kaiserstallung
Stadtwappen von Nürnberg
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

The city had a long, romantic history and contained many historic features of architectural and cultural importance.

Nürnberg was thus in many ways already a national symbol.
What remained was to convert it into a participatory landscape, in which spectacle and architecture might combine to legitimate and glorify the regime, enhance the personal charisma of Adolf Hitler and imbue among the masses a strong sense of National Socialist community and purpose.
The theatrical aspects of the rallies depended greatly on their venue.
In this sense, the rally agenda coincided with another preoccupation of the National Socialists and their leader: the idea that German cities typically lacked the kind of symbolic spaces and architecture necessary to galvanize a strong sense of community and purpose.
Mein Kampf

In ‘Mein Kampf‘, Hitler lamented that the inevitable result of this deficiency was ‘a desolation whose practical effect is the total indifference of the big-city dweller to the destiny of his city‘.
The Third Reich, therefore, chose to embark on an ambitious building programme that would refashion German cities with new monumental spaces and structures intended to focus Germans on the glory of their country as well as on the goals and values of National Socialism.
Architecture, in particular, was seen as a powerful expression of national greatness.

This article explores the interactions of spectacle, architecture and place embodied in the Nürnberg Party Rallies.
We focus first on the official rally grounds located just outside the city.
Here we examine the ways in which a carefully calculated use of space and architecture effectively created a world of ritual ceremony and rhetoric capable of generating an almost phantasmal sense of mass fascination and awe among participants and observers.
Our analysis, however, also leads us into the city centre, since the rallies were anything but confined to the rally grounds on the city’s edge.

Old Nürnberg

As the ‘City of the Party Rallies‘, Nürnberg’s historic centre was a fundamental but often-overlooked part of the celebrations.

In particular, the National Socialist building programme sought to restore, improve and preserve the city’s central environs simultaneously to remind the nation of the city’s historic greatness and to enhance the city’s suitability as a stirring venue for rally activities and ceremonies.
In the end we hope to emphasize the connectedness between what might be called the ‘old’ Nürnberg of the Middle Ages and the ‘new‘ Nuremberg of the 1930s.
The authorities, both party and civic, apparently saw no inconsistency in the goals of restoring, cleansing and preserving a historic city-scape in the town centre while simultaneously constructing a thoroughly modern and forward-looking rally site outside the city.
The seeming incongruity of the two endeavours was reconciled by a desire to build a sense of German pride that connected the new and glorious vision of a National Socialist future with a romantically inspiring symbol of Germany’s national past.
We also wish to emphasize the interdependence between these carefully contrived landscapes and the emotional response of the multitudes that witnessed or performed the spectacles staged upon or within them.
In other words, what makes the Nürnberg rallies perhaps unique is their unprecedented capacity to fuse spectacle, architecture and space into a single participatory experience.

The Rally Grounds

Nürnberg was not the first city to host the Party Rallies.
The first rally took place in Munich, the birthplace of the party, in 1923.
Because Hitler was banned from public speaking in Bavaria following his failed putsch, the second rally in 1926 took place in Weimar.

Nürnberg Reichsparteitag – 1927

After the Bavarian ban was lifted in 1927, Nürnberg came under consideration as a site for the third and possibly future rallies, but the choice was hardly a foregone conclusion.
For one thing, Nürnberg had never been a stronghold of National Socialist political support.
The city was actually considered a ‘red’ stronghold of the Social Democrats.
Moreover, the municipal government initially seemed lukewarm to the idea of turning over the city’s public buildings and grounds to the National Socialist celebrations.
On the other hand, the city was an attractive site because of its symbolic association with German history, art and culture stemming from its days as an imperial city during the Middle Ages; because of its relatively accessible location in central Germany; and because it possessed public facilities and grounds capable of providing adequate meeting space.

Wappen des Heiligen
Römischen Reiches
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Nürnberg is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about 170 kilometres (110 mi) north of Munich. It is the second-largest city in Bavaria (after Munich), and is the largest in Franconia.
Nürnberg was probably founded around the turn of the 11th century, according to the first documentary mention of the city in 1050, as the location of an Imperial castle between the East Franks and the Bavarian March of the Nordgau.

Wappen des Königreichs Bayern
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Nürnberg is often referred to as having been the ‘unofficial capital’ of the Holy Roman Empire, particularly because Imperial Diet (Reichstag) and courts met at Festung Nürnberg  The Diets of Nürnberg were an important part of the administrative structure of the empire.
The cultural flowering of Nuremberg, in the 15th and 16th centuries, made it the centre of the German Renaissance.
At the Imperial diet in 1803, the independence of Nuremberg was affirmed, but on the signing of the Confederation of the Rhine on 12 July 1806, it was agreed to hand the city over to Bavaria from 8 September
In 1817, the city was incorporated into the district of Rezatkreis (named for the Franconian Rezat river.

In the end, Nürnberg was chosen for the Reichsparteitag.
Successful rallies were held there in 1927 and 1929; and in 1933 Hitler declared at the opening of the city’s third rally that Nürnberg would henceforth be the permanent locale.

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.

The rallies were then held in Nürnberg each September until suspended by the outbreak of war in 1939.

Reichsparteitag – 1933

The early rallies of 1927 and 1929 were marked by improvisation, not only in the planning of scheduled events but also in the use of the city’s spaces and public facilities.
Beginning with the 1933 rally, however, a far more elaborate staging of events and venues evolved.

Reichsparteitag – 1933

The rallies soon developed into carefully orchestrated and predictable affairs that lasted eight full days, attended by as many as a quarter of a million people.

Reichsparteitag – 1933

The ritual began on the first day with the Führer’s dramatic arrival in Nürnberg  followed by a day of march-pasts and cultural events.
Succeeding days were devoted exclusively to the Labour Service, the ideal of community, political leadership, the Hitler Youth and the Storm Troopers.
The final day belonged entirely to the military.
As the events became more elaborated and standardized, so too did the determination to stage the largest and most important of them in a monumental complex of newly constructed arenas, stadia and meeting halls befitting a Reich that was destined to last a thousand years. 
The ‘Rally Grounds’ complex that eventually took shape was located just south-east of the city. 
This area had already been set aside in the late nineteenth century as a pleasure and recreation ground.

Dutzendteich Lake

The foci of the area’s pre-rally development were the Dutzendteich Lake, with its lakeside cafe, and the nearby Luitpold Grove.
The latter was a landscaped pleasure park originally developed as the venue for the 1906 Bavarian Jubilee Exhibition.
In 1928 a memorial to the dead of the First World War was constructed on the north-east side of the park.
The National Socialists, who used the park during the 1927 and 1929 rallies, viewed this open space and particularly its war memorial, which recalled the martyrdom of Germany’s First World War soldiers and the humiliation of the Versailles Peace, as a particularly emotive setting for rally events.

Reichsparteitagsgelände – Nürnberg

The extensive recreational area to the south-east of the city also contained a zoo, a number of sporting fields, a public swimming pool and a municipal stadium with a capacity of 50000. Incorporating all of these existing sites and facilities and more, the official Rally Grounds covered an immense area of 16.5 square kilometres.
A special public corporation (Zweckverband Reichsparteitag Nurnberg) created in 1935 partnered the city of Nürnberg  the state of Bavaria, the Reich and the NSDAP to oversee the development of the grounds.
With the intense backing of Hitler, the project enjoyed priority status for financial and material resources from the beginning.
Between rallies, the grounds became a place of feverish construction, earning the sobriquet ‘the world’s largest building site’.

Luitpold Grove and First World War necropolis

In all there were six major components to the complex, some of which were never completed. 
The first of these was the Luitpold Grove and its First World War necropolis, which became the complex’s most hallowed ceremonial ground.
This facility was completely reworked for the rallies.
The former landscaped pleasure park was levelled, flanked by massive stone grandstands and transformed into the Luitpold Arena.

Luitpold Arena

The resulting formalized space served as the stage for one of the most moving moments of the rally schedule.

On the seventh day of the proceedings, the massed ranks of more than 150 000 SA and SS Storm Troopers filled the floor of the arena.

Hitler and his entourage then passed solemnly between the ranks along a granite path leading straight to the steps of the war memorial, where the Fürhrer would pay his respects to the nation’s and the party’s martyred dead.

Connected to the Luitpold Arena was the Luitpold Hall, a meeting hall with a capacity of 16000 redesigned and enlarged from a structure built for the 1906 Bavarian Jubilee Exhibition.
A second, and equally pivotal, ceremonial space was the Zeppelin Field.
Built between 1934 and 1936, this squareish, stadium-like facility was a radical transformation of what had once been an amateur sports field named after Count Zeppelin, the German airship pioneer, who used it briefly for experimental flights in 1909.


The new facility’s most impressive feature was the Tribune.
This grandiose stone structure, which ran the full length of one side of the field, was the work of the young architect Albert Speer, whom Hitler also commissioned to oversee a master plan for the Rally Grounds complex.


Speer’s Tribune took the form of a long grandstand-like structure, flanked at each end with massive ‘book-end’ pylons, and dignified by a colonnaded screen behind the seating, topped by a giant swastika set in an oak leaf wreath.

A small, squareish podium, or Führer’s rostrum, jutting out from a raised platform at the centre of the structure, allowed Hitler to review the Labour Service battalions and youth groups, and military demonstrations staged by the armed forces.
Two other massive outdoor facilities were planned and begun, although neither was ever completed due to the outbreak of war.


One was the March Field (Marzfeld), the construction of which was prompted in part by the realization that the Zeppelin Field was probably too small to hold the enlarged rallies of the future.
This new arena, which was begun in 1938 on what had been a parade and exercise area for the army, was intended to hold half a million.

Deutsch Stadium

The other was the Deutsch Stadium which was to be a truly colossal affair, with a seating capacity of 405 000 – far more than any other sports stadium in the world.
Indeed, Hitler believed that the completed stadium would become the permanent site for the Olympic Games, which by his decree would henceforth be known as the Germanic World Festival.

Deutsch Stadium

The immense horseshoe-shaped stadium was to be built entirely of stone (enough to severely strain the granite-cutting capacity of the Reich for many years) and magnificently fronted at its open end by a propylaeum and columned courtyard
The structure was also to be adorned on high with gigantic spread-winged eagles, Grecian urns, and 25-metre high equestrian statues.
The cornerstone was laid in 1937, but little of the stadium was ever completed.
The other mega structure of the Rally Grounds was the Congress Hall.


Designed by Ludwig and Franz Ruff in 1934, it was an immense auditorium designed to hold 50,000 Party Congress delegates on its main floor, with room for another 2,400 on its main stage.
This building was situated picturesquely along the north shore of the Dutzendteich Lake. 
Construction was begun in 1935.
Most of the building’s outer shell was completed, but the interior was never finished.
A host of other structures and facilities rounded out the Rally Grounds ensemble.
These included a multi-winged barracks for the SS, built between 1937 and 1939 on the western edge of the grounds; the old municipal stadium, which continued to be used for parades and Hitler Youth events; a number of permanent camps on the southern and eastern peripheries that housed participants belonging to various organized groups, such as the SA, the SS, the Labour Service, the Hitler Youth, the Strength through Joy and the Young Women’s organizations.
The largest of these camps, known as the Langwasser, was spacious enough to accommodate more than 200 000 people.
In addition, two railway stations served the grounds, one near the camps and the other just to the east of the Zeppelin Field.
A power station and water tower provided the camps with basic services.

The rallies were political spectacle extraordinaire.
They drew heavily on a tradition of national festivities and public celebrations in Germany dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, but were consciously designed to employ every conceivable tool that could transport crowds into a state in which they subconsciously surrendered themselves en-masse to the high drama and mystical euphoria of the moment. 
The result was indeed thought of as a Gesamtkunstwerk or ‘total work of art’.

Richard Wagner

A Gesamtkunstwerk (translated as total work of art, ideal work of art, universal artwork, synthesis of the arts, comprehensive artwork, all-embracing art form or total artwork) is a work of art that makes use of all or many art forms or strives to do so. The term is a German word which has come to be accepted as a term in aesthetics.

The term was first used by the German writer and philosopher K. F. E. Trahndorff in an essay in 1827. The German opera composer Richard Wagner used the term in two 1849 essays. It is unclear whether Wagner knew of Trahndorff’s essay. The word has become particularly associated with Wagner’s aesthetic ideals.

Hitler Jugend Trommler

To accomplish this the proceedings relied heavily on the stirring and anticipatory effects of martial music, trumpeted fanfares and thundering drums; on the visually exhilarating effects of massed blocks of uniformed marching men and women, phalanxes of flags and standards, and the surreal effects cast by thousands of flickering torches; and on the ecstatic effects of spell-bindingly oratory and mass proclamations of loyalty.
One of the most spectacular examples of the highly choreographed proceedings took place in the Zeppelin Field.
On the evening of the fifth day, the so-called ‘day of the political leaders’, the review field, which held as many as 100 000, and the surrounding stands, which held as many as 150 000 more, were filled to capacity.

Lichtdom – Cathedral of Light

As darkness fell anticipation ran high among the closely packed, torch-lit crowd.
At a precise moment, spotlights illuminated Hitler’s entrance to the field.
As the Führer then strode across the field to mount the podium in front of the Tribune, 150 powerful searchlights around the perimeter of the field suddenly shot their long beams into the sky to envelope the proceedings in a ghostly ‘Cathedral of Light’.
As Hitler prepared to harangue the crowd from his podium, excitement culminated amongst the assembled multitude with the exhilarating sight of tens of thousands of swastika flags and gleaming silver standards rushing forward in waves through the crowds, rousing the faithful into a sort of ‘sacred’ fervour.’
The evening ended with the mass singing of the national anthem.
This meticulously orchestrated emotional scene, artfully caught on film by Leni Riefenstahl and shown around the world, best exemplified the spellbinding and almost sacral atmosphere that characterized the rallies.
To be ultimately successful, however, all of this required a perfect venue just the right use of space and architecture.
Careful attention to the use of space and spatial layout therefore loomed large in the design of all rally facilities.
Hitler himself had strong views on the utility of space for the manipulation of a crowd’s attention and mood.

Rectangular spaces were deemed most effective, especially when they could be precisely defined on all sides by surrounding stands and stages, and seemingly isolated from the rest of the world by encircling displays of flags, banners and statuary, or – as in the case of the night rallies in the Zeppelin Field – by walls of light set against the dark sky.
Clear lines of sight and direction were also important, as demonstrated by the layout of the ‘granite path’ that bisected the Luitpold Arena as it led to the steps of the War Memorial, or in the focal position of the Fuhrer’s rostrum at the centre of the Zeppelin Field Tribune and at the end of a main axis emanating from the entrance in the middle of the stands directly across the way.
Size was also important.
Rally facilities needed very large capacities so that the crowds in the stands along with the standing or marching participants massed on the field or auditorium floor could create an impression of immense human strength and solidarity.

Thus, impressive as the mass ceremonies in the Luitpold Arena and Zeppelin Field may have been, an immediate need was felt for even larger facilities, such as the March Field and German Stadium.
The spatial layout of the entire grounds was also the subject of meticulous planning.
A master plan, replete with a scale model mock-up, was in place by 1935.
A central axis or ‘Great Road’ ran for two kilometres in a north-westerly direction from the centre of Hitler’s reviewing stand on the March Field to a great square just outside the Congress Hall. 

Reichsparteitagsgelände – Nürnberg

Designed to be 80 metres wide and paved with 60 000 gigantic square slabs of granite, the Great Road created a grand processional way capable of conveying great columns of parading troops and rally goers.
Once completed in 1939, the Great Road strictly aligned with the newer facilities – the March Field, the German Stadium, the Congress Hall and the various residence camps.
The older facilities, whose location and orientation could not be changed, related somewhat awkwardly, but not at angles that placed them at great variance to the thrust of the axis.
In a rather obvious attempt to link the Rally Grounds to the ‘historic’ greatness of the host city, the Great Road aligned directly with Nuremberg’s old imperial festung (fortress), which dominated the old city’s distant skyline.

Equally important was the use of architecture.
Hitler considered himself an aficionado of architectural history and technique; he considered himself a master builder, and dreamed of leaving a lasting physical imprint on German cities and landscapes.

He understood the power of monumental building and spent countless hours fussing over architectural plans of various projects, among which the Rally Grounds held special importance. 
The designs of rally buildings and arenas had to satisfy multiple goals.
Their primary purpose was to under-gird the ritual spectacle of the various rally events; but these edifices were also meant to impress and instruct in the sense that the heroic ideals and scale of the National Socialist movement should be evident in their form and style.
They were also built to endure as an eternal testament to the power and grandeur of the Third Reich.
In Nazi Germany, the need to impress and instruct was an imperative that usually translated architecturally into gigantism.
Speer classified the buildings for the Rally Grounds as ‘assembly architecture’, the purpose of which was to awe and inspire masses of people.
Structures were therefore designed to overwhelm the senses by their sheer size.
The plan for the German Stadium, for example, was so immense that spectators in the upper stands would have been hard pressed to observe the action on the field below without the aid of field glasses.
The entrance pylons, portals and galleries of all of the facilities were typically far larger than life-the better to diminish those who passed through them.
Thus, the vast lobbies that were to run beneath the seats of the German Stadium were designed to tower, cathedral-like, over the spaces they enclosed, while immense columns, pylons, statuary, emblems and symbols adorned the exteriors of stadia and buildings alike.
The monumental dimensions of the Rally Grounds structures were a simple but effective means of impressing on the masses the extraordinary largeness and all-embracing character of National Socialist life.
The projects personally commissioned and supervised by Hitler, which include Speer’s designs for the Party Rally Grounds reflect Hitler’s taste for neo-classical forms.

Schinkel – Altes Museum

Neoclassical architecture is an architectural style produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century, manifested both in its details as a reaction against the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some classicizing features of Late Baroque. In its purest form it is a style principally derived from the architecture of Classical Greece and Rome and the architecture of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio.

Neue Wache – Schinkel

In form, Neoclassical architecture emphasizes the wall rather than chiaroscuro and maintains separate identities to each of its parts.
Neoclassical architecture tends to emphasize its planar qualities, rather than sculptural volumes. Projections and recessions and their effects of light and shade are more flat; sculptural bas-reliefs are flatter and tend to be enframed in friezes, tablets or panels. Its clearly articulated individual features are isolated rather than interpenetrating, autonomous and complete in themselves.

Pergamon Altar 

Speer’s design for the Zeppelin Field Tribune bears clear similarities to the Pergamon Altar of Hellenistic Greece, just as the German Stadium resembles the stadium of Herodes Atticus in Athens.

Reconstruction of the Colosseum – Rome

There are also rather obvious similarities between the Colosseum in Rome and the Congress Hall, the design of which underwent changes inspired by Hitler’s 1938 visit to Rome.
Hitler and his architects were clearly attracted to the idea of using the architectural forms of a heroic classical past, particularly those of ancient Greece, as a means of legitimizing and grounding their vision of the present and future.
In fact, however, the work done by Speer on the Rally Grounds went beyond the standard neo-classical mould, for his buildings also incorporated a certain modern abstract formalism derived from the Art Deco style of the 1920s.
Many of the buildings thus were noteworthy for their employment of cubic mass, emphasis on right angles, great flat surfaces and solid angular decoration.

The end result was a sort of abstract or modernized neo-classicism that managed to seem heroic, solid and forward-looking all at the same time – an theme that was highly compatible with the political style of  National Socialism, which so often strived to bring together carefully selected attributes of the old and the new.
The final imperative was the command to endure.
In his memoirs, Albert Speer reports that ‘Hitler liked to say that the purpose of his building was to transmit his time and its spirit to posterity‘, adding: ‘Ultimately, all that remained to remind men of the great epochs of history was their monumental architecture.’
Speer produced two recommendations that Hitler strongly endorsed.

Congress Hall

First, monumental buildings should feature time-honoured and natural materials that express a ‘bridge of tradition‘ to future generations, rather than modern and anonymous materials. 
Second, monumental structures should be built to last so that, after thousands of years, a set of aesthetically acceptable ruins might remain, like those of the Greeks and Romans, as a testament to future generations.

Congress Hall

Consequently, the buildings of the Rally Grounds utilized ideologically acceptable and permanent materials like granite and marble whenever possible, and this also allowed at least some construction to continue during the war years, as iron, steel and concrete became increasingly reserved for weapons production.
The spectacle of the rallies thus unfolded, in part, within an ensemble of buildings and stadia designed both spatially and architecturally to enhance the involvement of rally participants and observers, to heighten the propaganda value of the rallies, and to leave a permanent record in stone that would impress and instruct long after its builders were gone.
The grounds were intended to become a sacred place – a site of cult-like celebration of strength and unity under National Socialism.
In the words of regime spokesperson Otto Dietrich, speaking at the 1935 rally, ‘This sacred site of the Party Rally Grounds with its unique concepts of architecture and use of space will be the highest symbol of National Socialist life and National Socialist culture, in it the unique style of German National Socialism will find its strongest expression.

The City


In 1937 Germany’s flagship art and architectural journal lavishly featured the new rally buildings as ‘a monument of pride‘.
Given the high visibility afforded to the rallies by the regime’s propaganda apparatus and the monumental nature of its architecture, it is not surprising that scholars have remained largely fixated on the Rally Grounds.
Yet this narrow focus overlooks another component of the National Socialist building programme that developed within Nürnberg’s medieval walls, in parallel with the new rally structures.
Nürnberg was chosen as the location for the annual rallies partially because of its historical symbolism.
The city’s historic centre accordingly became an additional focal point for rally activities.
In many ways, Nürnberg’s historic centre served as an extension of the official rally grounds. 
And like the existing facilities at the Luitpold Arena or the Zeppelin Field, Nürnberg’s historic squares, buildings and fortifications also required systematic reworking to reinforce the regime’s political objectives.
As planning and construction proceeded on the Rally Grounds, local party officials with the support of the national leadership aggressively launched a broad campaign to restore, preserve and improve Nürnberg’s historic centre.
The preservation campaign within Nürnberg’s medieval walls was intended both to create a ‘monument of pride‘ that would remind the nation of its past greatness and, like the new Rally Grounds, to signal the onset of a new and glorious age.
Although scholars have produced countless volumes analysing the urban planning policies and architectural styles favoured by the Third Reich, historical preservation has only recently emerged as a subject of interest.
Reflecting this relative inattention paid to historical preservation, those who have explored the structures and symbolism of the rallies have tended to minimize the role of projects undertaken in Nürnberg’s historic centre in creating an appropriate atmosphere for the rallies.
Yet Nuremberg’s historic centre was not a mere footnote to the massive spectacles on the Rally Grounds, but rather a constituent element in efforts to project and legitimize the National Socialist regime’s authority and legitimacy.
NSDAP officials embarked on a purposeful program to adapt Nürnberg s centre to a specific vision of history that would buttress the NSDAP’s political authority, and its self-image as chief steward and pinnacle of German cultural and historical greatness.

Mayor Willy Liebel

These efforts, led by Mayor Willy Liebel, were implemented by a small cadre of professional architects, preservationists and urban planners sympathetic to the regime’s apparent commitment to preserving and restoring Germany’s historical monuments.
According to municipal preservationist Julius Lincke: The reawakening of the German spirit has also reawakened the sense of German history everywhere.
The remaining monuments to the existence and achievements of the German Volk, that had often sunken down to mere sites for a few summer tourists, have again become relics of the German Volk, for whose preservation everything must be done.
In general, historical preservation in Nürnberg focused on three main themes.
The first involved the restoration of historical structures, while the second focused on removing the ‘building sins‘ of previous generations in an attempt to ‘cleanse‘, ‘purify‘ or otherwise aesthetically improve Nürnberg’s historical image.
Building sins‘ in this context usually referred to commercial buildings featuring modernist designs built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Thirdly, preservation projects served to symbolize the NSDAP’s desired close connections with specific aspects of German medieval history.
Although wide-ranging, these three themes helped re-frame the past and present so that the NSDAP, under Hitler’s leadership, appeared as an inevitable historical culmination that would reconcile the German nation’s cultural greatness with modernity, and save the nation from racial and cultural degeneration.

Adolf Hitler – Albert Speer
and Willy Liebel

Indeed, Mayor Liebel declared that ‘the National Socialist city administration considers it as one of its most important tasks, to preserve the countless beauties of the old town and to free it from the defacements that it was partially exposed to in recent decades‘.
In order to demonstrate the party’s commitment to this cause, Liebel ordered work to begin immediately on the ‘restoration of architectural and artistic monuments threatened by decay, the purification of disturbing advertising and architectural disfigurements from the image of the old town, and the renovation of the old town‘.
Given the dual importance of Nürnberg’s main market square, as both the city’s historical centre and site of several parades and activities during the annual rallies, local leaders decided to focus their initial efforts here.

They began by renaming the square, originally called the ‘Hauptmarkt’, to ‘Adolf-Hitler-Platz’, but it was soon evident that they would not be satisfied with mere semantic changes.

Adolf-Hitler-Platz – Nürnberg
Adolf-Hitler-Platz – Nürnberg

During late 1933 and early 1934, more substantive measures were undertaken to have a redesigned and improved ‘Adolf-Hitler-Platz’ complete for the 1934 rallies.
The centrepiece of the effort was the renovation of the Telegraph Building.
Heinrich Hohn, a staff member of the German National Museum in Nürnberg  singled out this neo-gothic building, built in the 1870s, as an ‘unbearable foreign body‘ that disturbed the square’s medieval charm.
Although cost considerations prevented its complete demolition, the Telegraph Building received a dramatic facelift.
The building’s new simplified façade and pitched roof aimed to complement neighbouring structures and create a more orderly aesthetic, while new murals added to the façade provided an unmistakable message.
In addition to targeting modern architecture, officials worked to realign windows and doors to harmonize the façades of buildings surrounding the square to conform to National Socialist visual and ideological preferences.

Nürnberg Kaiserburg

While the municipal administration concentrated on re-framing Nürnberg’s main square, the Bavarian president, Ludwig Siebert, and the Zweckverband financed the restoration of Nürnberg’s Kaiserburg (imperial castle – or Festung) under the justification that it ‘served the representative purposes of the state‘.
The festung, set at the north-western corner of the city’s medieval fortifications, represented a potent symbol of medieval Germany’s political and cultural greatness.

Nürnberg – Kaiserburg

Although much of its historic exterior remained intact, the interior had undergone significant modifications during the nineteenth century.
Like the redesigned ‘Adolf-Hitler-platz’, restoration work inside the festung aimed for a ‘thorough cleansing‘ of nineteenth century additions.
The restorations strived for a rather simple, modest and orderly appearance intended to revive the festung’s ‘pure and unadulterated state‘.
The overall effect was to return the festung to its ‘original monumental character and its powerful dignity‘.

Hitler Youth leaders Hostel

Later projects converted portions of the festung complex into an immense youth hostel with facilities for Hitler Youth leaders.
The local administration hoped that the newly renovated hostel would immerse youths in the experience of the party rallies, optimistically proclaiming that ‘thousands of German boys and girls will pass through the hostel and take something of the spirit of greatness that prevails in it into their future life‘.
Nürnberg also conducted a ‘cleansing‘ of its medieval fortifications.
Local officials ordered vegetation stripped from the ramparts, refuse cleared, dilapidated sections of wall repaired and new footpaths laid out along the moats and trenches to create unobstructed views of Nürnberg’s military heritage.
The extensive restoration work on the festung and fortifications simultaneously demonstrated the regime’s dedication to preserving historical monuments, accentuated the martial aspects of Nürnberg’s historical architecture, and integrated these medieval relics into an orderly and disciplined urban landscape.

Holy Spirit Hospital – Nürnberg
Rathaus – Nürnberg

Most other municipal historic buildings also underwent some degree of restoration during the Third Reich, including the Rathaus (town hall), the Holy Spirit Hospital and many of the town’s churches. Although the NSDAP had limited legal authority over the rights of property owners, local officials were able to pressure many home-owners into making aesthetic changes.
Historic preservation efforts focused on giving homes and businesses an ‘Old German‘ look by exposing half-timbering, as well as removing obtrusive signs of commerce and modern architectural forms like flat roofs.
Referring to the latter structure, a local administrative report celebrated how ‘one of the ugliest homes in the old town has today become one of the most beautiful’.
By 1941, the administration claimed that municipal funds were partially responsible for the restoration of approximately 400 buildings.

Nürnberg Synagogue
Nürnberg Synagogue

Although local officials used strong rhetoric when describing all preservation projects, their criticisms of Nürnberg’s Synagogue were especially virulent.
Like other structures targeted for removal, the synagogue was built in a late nineteenth century historicist style, making it doubly objectionable to National Socialist ideologues.
Walter Brugmann, a local architectural consultant, had already identified this ‘Moorish-style‘ synagogue as a ‘building sin‘ in 1934.
The building’s perceived ‘foreign‘ architectural style was compounded by its seemingly disproportionate size.

Walter Brugmann

Brugmann suggested a new porch as a partial remedy, but officials chose a more radical solution.
The National Socialist building programme in Nürnberg’s historic centre clearly intended to do more than just preserve historical architecture.
It intersected in practice, rhetoric and goals with several basic tenets of National Socialist ideology.
First, the programme allowed the regime to demonstrate its support for preserving Germany’s historical treasures, a goal with significant support among middle- and upper-class Germans. 

Wappen des Heiligen
Römischen Reiches
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Preserving historical structures, especially those that dated to the Middle Ages, also connected the Third Reich with the perceived golden age of the Heiligen Römischen Reiches (Holy Roman Empire).
To suggest this narrative, officials and preservationists attacked, in both rhetoric and practice, the material reminders of the period separating this golden past from the glorious present and future.
By erasing the physical traces of this perceived downfall from the urban landscape a closer symbolic connection between medieval and National Socialist Germany was created.
The monumental nature of Nürnberg’s urban fabric could thus represent the ideals of a traditional and cohesive community that coincided with National Socialist calls for order, obedience and sacrifice.
Nürnberg is the best preserved large city of the German Middle Ages,’ art historian Friedrich Kriegbaum proclaimed,
Like hardly any other city, it is a grandiose self-portrayal of urban communal will in built form.’
Finally, the use of biological metaphors in urban planning and preservation discourse reflected the regime’s concern with race.
The programme to ‘cleanse‘ Nuremberg’s urban landscape of undue ‘foreign‘ and commercial influences buttressed efforts to construct a racially pure nation.
Germany’s urban areas, like the nation itself, were viewed as threatened by foreign contaminants that had to be purged before Germany could reach its full potential.
Looking back at the first years of the campaign, Brugmann noted with satisfaction that the ‘city wall and ditches, the castle, the churches, the patrician and burgher homes were preserved in a perfectly professional manner and the alleys of old Nuremberg were decisively cleansed of excessive “commercialism”.’
While such themes were common in preservation and urban planning throughout the Third Reich, Nürnberg’s role as the site of the annual rallies added a special impetus and visibility to these efforts.
As Brugmann took pains to emphasize,
‘Nürnberg, fully conscious of this high distinction and honour, endeavours to give this new purpose an adequate frame by preserving and restoring the matchless beauty of its ancient scenery, by erecting new buildings, widening its streets, and by making other improvements.’

The ‘Old’ and the ‘New’ Nürnberg

Stadtwappen von Nürnberg
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
‘Old’ and ‘New’ Nürnberg

We have so far reviewed the general course of the National Socialist building programme both within Nürnberg’s medieval walls and on the rally grounds located a short distance outside.
The latter foresaw the construction of mammoth, modernized neo-classical structures, while the other focused on reworking relatively small details thought to contrast with Nuremberg’s medieval heritage.
Although seemingly irreconcilable in style, form and scale, these two projects were seen as complementary.
Viewing them in isolation provides only a partial and somewhat misleading view of Nürnberg’s practical and symbolic role in National Socilaist Germany.

Fleischbruecke – Old Nürnberg

These were not separate projects, but intimately intertwined as necessary elements of the regime’s programme to create and project images of historical greatness, current political legitimacy and promises of future grandeur.
Friedrich Bock, a local library director, succinctly laid out this historical trajectory in his 1938 book ‘Nürnberg  from the city of the Imperial Diets to the city of the Party Rallies’.
Bock constructed a narrative that painted medieval Nürnberg in glowing terms.
This golden age was, however, followed by a period of neglect and cultural decline, especially during the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
The National Socilaist seizure of power in 1933 marked a rebirth.
The Third Reich has again brought great honour to the city,‘ Bock explained; ‘it has again become, like during the height of the Middle Ages, one of the capitals of the Reich and, as in the proud imperial times, its name will be named together with the leaders of the Reich.’
For Bock, the Rally Grounds and improvements to the city centre symbolized Nürnberg’s renewal and rejuvenation.
In this way it is possible‘, Bock reasoned, ‘to organically connect the old city of the Imperial Diets with the new city of the Party Rallies through the centuries.’

Indeed, after the annexation of Austria in 1938, Hitler ordered the crown jewels and regalia of the old Holy Roman Empire returned from Vienna to Nürnberg for permanent display. 
Nürnberg thus signified a resurrection of past national greatness under the leadership of the NSDAP.

Adolf Hitler views the Reichskleinodien in Nürnberg

The Imperial Regalia are the only completely preserved regalia from the Middle Ages. During the late Middle Ages, the word Imperial Regalia (Reichskleinodien) had many variations in the Latin language. The regalia were either named in Latin: insignia imperialia, regalia insignia, insignia imperalis capellae quae regalia dicuntur and other similar words.
Nürnberger Kleinodien (roughly translated Nürnberg jewels), named after the town of Nürnberg where the regalia were kept from 1424 to 1796. This part comprised the Imperial Crown, parts of the coronation vestments, the Imperial Orb (a globus cruciger), the Imperial Sceptre, the Imperial Sword, the Ceremonial Sword, the Imperial Cross, the Holy Lance (‘Spear of Dstiny’), and other reliquiaries.
Today they are kept at the Schatzkammer Treasury in the Hofburg palace in Vienna, Austria.


Carl Sabo’s book developed these same connections between the city’s past and present:
For centuries Nürnberg as city of the gleaming Imperial Diets of the German emperors and kings stood in the centre of German history. With the designation as the city of the party rallies by the Fuihrer, Nuremberg is today placed anew in the centre of German happenings. The gates of the city will be stone witnesses to these new glory days for the future.’
Introducing the book, Mayor Liebel hoped visitors, whether during the rallies or some other time of year, would feel this same impression. ‘What of a visit to Nürnberg makes the deepest expression‘, Liebel explained, ‘is the inner connection between the venerated past and the living and proud present.’
Party officials made a special effort to reinforce this message for young Germans.
Gottlieb Schwemmer, a government building official, authored an easy-reading political history for young Germans.
After a cursory overview of Nürnberg’s early history, Schwemmer described the nineteenth century as a period of cultural decline triggered by capitalism.
The city’s recent resurgence under National Socilaist leadership was gradually correcting these past mistakes.
The city, that remained true to the symbols of the old empire as no other’, Schwemmer argued, ‘is also above all others determined to have the greatest monuments in its enchanted setting, on which the reflection of the coming epoch already rests.’
Through the combination of its old medieval centre and the new rally complex, Nürnberg would become an eternal symbol of German, and more specifically National Socialist, achievements. 
Another book, by Werner Dittschlag, made a similar point for German girls.
Dittschlag began by comparing the tale of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ with Nürnberg 
Like a fairy-tale princess, Nürnberg had originally been a beautiful, vibrant city but was forced to endure an anguished slumber during the nineteenth century.
Once Hitler woke Nuremberg, ‘the old spirit of heroic deeds and loyalty returned within its walls…. Nuremberg is once again a “centre point of the Reich”, the Third Reich.
The book details the role of women and girls in the rallies, and concludes by describing the massive structures planned for future rallies.
Beyond the pomp of rally activities, these new structures and Nürnberg’s medieval centre were destined to form an impressive new whole.
As Dittschlag explained: ‘Every German girl and every German boy will burn with desire to see the old and the new Nuremberg.
Connections between these two Nürnbergs were necessary to legitimate National Socialism as the natural heir to Germany’s proud history.
A girls’ magazine produced by the party visually encapsulated this message for its readers.
The cover features an eagle, long a symbol of Germany, surveying past and current symbols of German greatness.
A drawing of the Zeppelin Field fills the foreground, while the silhouette of Nuremberg’s castle and fortifications provides a shadowy backdrop.
Schwemmer had been keen to point out to his readers that the entire rally complex ‘served as a counterbalance to the distant imperial castle which welcomes one into Nürnberg’s landscape image‘.

Nürnberg – Reichsparteitag 1937

But efforts to forge connections between the rallies andNürnberg’s medieval past often went beyond mere verbal assertions.
As we have seen, the Great Road, the broad central axis of the rally grounds, was purposely aligned with Nürnberg’s imperial festung, several kilometres to the north.
The cover of a special issue of ‘Die neue Linie’, featuring the 1938 party rallies, offers a simplified representation of this relationship.
Indeed, connecting the rally grounds with the symbols of medieval Nürnberg was central to the iconography of the rallies.

Nürnberg – Reichsparteitag 1937 – Poster

The official poster from the 1937 rallies, for example, juxtaposed Nürnberg festung with searchlights from the rally grounds.
The performative nature of the rallies also worked to highlight the conceptual message inherent in the National Socilaist building programme in Nürnberg.
In many ways, the most dramatic performances of the rallies featured enormous parades of the various party organizations.
It is no coincidence that many of these parade routes actually connected Nürnberg’s imperial festung, Adolf-Hitler-Platz and the new Rally Grounds.
These repeated spectacles of mass parades symbolically and literally constructed linkages between the medieval Holy Roman Empire and Hitler’s Third Reich.
This trajectory was further enshrined in Leni Riefenstahl’s ground-breaking film of the 1934 rallies, ‘Triumph of the Will’.

The film’s opening sequences couple footage of Hitler’s triumphal entry into old Nürnberg with lingering shots of Nürnberg’s historic buildings.

Another long scene toward the end of ‘Triumph’ complements coverage of Hitler reviewing a parade from the Adolf-Hitler-Platz with lavish views of old Nürnberg streetscapes.
The National Socilaist building programme reworked Nürnberg’s historical centre to represent, convey and historicize the National Socilaist movement and its ideology.
Together with the massive new structures planned for the rallies,Nürnberg’s historical centre helped portray the Third Reich as the culmination of past historical greatness and the redeemer of a truly German national culture.
There were certainly other places where the National Socilaist leaders planned to redesign cities around mammoth new structures, most famously their plans completely to redesign Berlin into the capital, Germania.
There were also numerous programmes to preserve historical buildings, especially in smaller towns like Rothenburg.
Nürnberg, in comparison, was the only place where the regime aggressively pursued both objectives.
It seemed only fitting that, as one popular guidebook declared of Nürnberg  ‘the old stronghold of the German imperial idea of the Middle Ages is today the stronghold of the new Reich‘. 
While numerous rulers, governments and political movements have constructed grandiose monuments and staged lavish ceremonies, few such efforts can rival the impact of the Nürnberg Party Rallies.
The rallies awed millions of contemporary Germans, as well as countless foreign observers. 
Indeed, Riefenstahl’s ‘Triumph of the Will’ won awards in Germany, Italy and even the Grand Prize at the Paris International Film Festival in 1937.
And even 60 years after the collapse of Hitler’s Reich, these images of unity and power continue to fascinate.
Yet, given the repeated use of politicized monuments and spectacles by numerous regimes throughout history, the reasons why the Nuremberg rallies in particular should have such a lasting legacy remain somewhat obscure.
Many contemporary observers and later scholars credited the sheer size of the rallies.
While the rallies were certainly massive, we believe that a greater awareness of the calculated use of place, space and architecture can lead to a more nuanced understanding of the intense emotional response generated by the rallies and the reasons the rallies achieved nearly iconographic status for later generations.
As a 1938 issue of ‘Die neue Linie’ explained: ‘From the first Imperial Diets, that took place in the thirteenth century, to the Party Rallies, the destiny of the city resolutely followed this mission like a pre-planned parade route.’ This calculated utilization of architecture, spectacle and place helped link the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ Nürnberg to project and legitimize a vision of past, present and future.

Festliches Nürnberg

Festliches Nürnberg

‘Festliches Nürnberg’ (Festive Nuremberg) is a short 1937 film chronicling the Nürnberg Reichsparteitag in Germany in 1936 and 1937.
The film was directed by Hans Weidemann.
The film runs in colour for 21 minutes (although the downloadable version at the Internet archive is monochrome only, and has no English translation of the commentary), containing footage of the 8th and 9th Nürnberg Rallies.
Particularly notable scenes of both the rally and the film are images of Albert Speer’s lighting techniques during the 9th Nuremberg rally on 10 September 1937, in which he positioned 134 searchlights circling the Zeppelin field on which the rally was taking place.

‘Lichtdom’ (Cathedral of Light)

The beams of these spotlights, forming the ‘Lichtdom’ (Cathedral of Light), merged into the general glow at an estimated height of 20,000 feet.
The film is relatively short at only about 21 minutes compared with the longer ‘Triumph des Willens’ and ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’ made by Leni Riefenstahl in 1933 and 1934 respectively (see above). It adopts the same style with many scenes of marching SS men and Wehrmacht soldiers, as well as navy personnel and flying aircraft overhead.
With some prescience, scenes of soldiers parading in tanks and other vehicles (with guns firing) assume great prominence.
The film concludes with sequences of folk dances and gymnastic displays, followed by a torchlight parade and a brief speech from Hitler.
Since the formation of the NSDAP in 1923, annual rallies had taken place at Nürnberg  mainly orchestrated by the ‘minister for public enlightenment’ Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels.
The NSDAP also called upon architect Albert Speer to create a number of spectacles to inspire the German population.
The 8th and 9th of these rallies were known as the ‘Reichsparteitag der Ehre’ (Rally of Honor) and the ‘Reichsparteitag der Arbeit’ (Rally of Labor) respectively for 1937 and 1938. 

The film followed the much longer Riefenstahl films of 1933 and 1934, and the reason for the smaller movie is not known, indeed, many of the film sequences follow Riefenstahl quite closely, such as the introduction using aerial shots of the city of Nuremberg.
The score uses Richard Wagner’s ‘Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg’ for musical accompaniment. 

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Propaganda in the Third Reich

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Propaganda was skillfully used by the NSDAP in the years leading up to and during Adolf Hitler’s leadership of Germany (1933–1945).

National Socialist propaganda provided a crucial instrument for acquiring and maintaining power, and for the implementation of their policies, including the pursuit of total war.

In Opposition (1919–33)
Adolf Hitler devoted three chapters of his 1925/26 book ‘Mein Kampf’, itself a propaganda tool, to the study and practice of propaganda.
He claimed to have learnt the value of propaganda as a World War I infantryman exposed to very effective British and ineffectual German propaganda.
The argument that Germany lost the war largely because of British propaganda efforts, expounded at length in ‘Mein Kampf’, reflected then-common German nationalist claims.
Although untrue – German propaganda during World War I was mostly more advanced than that of the British – it became the official truth of Third Reich thanks to its reception by Hitler.

Mein Kampf’ contains the blueprint of later National Socialist propaganda efforts.

Assessing his audience, Hitler writes in Chapter VI:
Propaganda must always address itself to the broad masses of the people.
All propaganda must be presented in a popular form and must fix its intellectual level so as not to be above the heads of the least intellectual of those to whom it is directed.
The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses.
The broad masses of the people are not made up of diplomats or professors of public jurisprudence nor simply of persons who are able to form reasoned judgement in given cases, but a vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another.
The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning.
This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood.
As to the methods to be employed, he explains: “Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side.
The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble.
On the other hand, they quickly forget.
Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas.
These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.
Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion.
The leading slogan must of course be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end one must always return to the assertion of the same formula.
Hitler put these ideas into practice with the re-establishment of the ‘Völkischer Beobachter’, a daily newspaper published by the NSDAP from February 1925 on, whose circulation reached 26,175 in 1929.
It was joined in 1926 by Joseph Goebbels’s ‘Der Angriff’, another propagandistic paper.
During most of the National Socialists’ time in opposition, their means of propaganda remained limited.
With little access to mass media, the party continued to rely heavily on Hitler and a few others speaking at public meetings until 1929.
In April 1930, Hitler appointed Goebbels head of party propaganda. Goebbels, a former journalist and National Socialist party officer in Berlin, soon proved his skills.
Among his first successes was the organization of riotous demonstrations that succeeded in having the American anti-war film ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ banned in Germany.
In Power (1933–39)
Before World War II, National Socialist propaganda strategy, officially promulgated by the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, stressed several themes.

Treaty of Versailles

Their goals were to establish external enemies (countries that inflicted the Treaty of Versailles on Germany) and internal enemies, such as Jews and Bolsheviks, and topics like degenerate art.

Hitler and National Socialist propagandists highlighted the anti-Semitism and resentment present in Germany. The Jews were shown to be responsible for things such as robbing the German people of their hard work while themselves avoiding physical labour.
Posters, films, cartoons, and fliers were seen throughout Germany which attacked the Jewish community, such as the 1940 film ‘The Eternal Jew’.

A major political and ideological cornerstone of National Socialist policy was the unification of all ethnic Germans living outside of the Reich’s borders under one Greater Germany (e.g Austria and Czechoslovakia and territories taken from Germany by Poland).
Großgermanisches Reich Deutscher Nation

In ‘Mein Kampf’, Hitler made a direct remark to those outside of Germany.

Großgermanisches Reich

He stated that pain and misery were being forced upon ethnic Germans outside of Germany, and that they dream of common fatherland.

He concluded by stating they needed to fight for one’s nationality.
Throughout ‘Mein Kampf’, he encouraged Germans worldwide to make the struggle for political power and independence their main focus.
National Socialist propaganda used the ‘Heim ins Reich’ policy for this, which began in 1938.
National Socialist propaganda efforts then focused on identifying external enemies.
Propagandists strengthened the negative attitude of Germany towards the Treaty of Versailles by territorial claims and ethnocentrism.
Heim ins Reich

When the Treaty was signed in 1919 non-propagandists newspapers headlines across the nation spoke German’s feelings, such as “UNACCEPTABLE” which appeared on the front page of the ‘Frankfurter Zeitung’ in 1919.

‘The Berliner Tageblatt’, also in 1919, predicted “Should we accept the conditions, a military furore for revenge will sound in Germany within a few years, a militant nationalism will engulf all.”

Treaty of Versailles

Hitler, knowing his nation’s disgust with the Treaty, used it as justifiable leverage to influence his audience.

He would repeatedly refer back to the terms of the Treaty as a direct attack on Germany and its people.
In one speech delivered on January 30, 1937 he directly stated that he was withdrawing the German signature from the document to protest the outrageous proportions of the terms.
He rightly claimed the Treaty made Germany out to be inferior and “less” of a country than others only because blame for the war was placed on it.

Volksdeutsche Killed by Poles – 1939

The success of National Socialist propagandists and Hitler won the NDAP control of Germany.

For months prior to the beginning of World War II in 1939, German newspapers and leaders had carried out a national and international propaganda campaign showing that the Polish authorities had organised and tolerated violent ethnic cleansing of Germans living in Poland.
Until the conclusion of the Battle of Stalingrad on February 4, 1943, German propaganda emphasized the prowess of German arms and the humanity German soldiers had shown to the peoples of occupied territories.

Allied Bomber Fleet over the Reich – 1944

Pilots of the Allied bombing fleets were depicted as cowardly murderers, and Americans in particular as gangsters in the style of Al Capone.

At the same time, German propaganda sought to alienate Americans and British from each other, and both these Western nations from the Soviets.
One of the primary sources for propaganda was the Wehrmachtbericht, a daily radio broadcast that described the military situation on all fronts.
German victories lent themselves easily to propaganda broadcasts, and were at this point difficult to mishandle.
Satires on the defeated, accounts of attacks, and praise for the fallen all were useful for the regime.
After Stalingrad, the main theme changed to Germany as the sole defender of “Western European Culture” against the “Bolshevist Hordes”.

V1 Rocket
V2 (A4)Rocket

The introduction of the V-1 and V-2 vengeance weapons” was emphasized to convince Britons of the hopelessness of defeating Germany.

V-weapons, known in the original German as Vergeltungswaffen (retaliatory weapons, reprisal weapons), were a particular set of long range artillery weapons designed for strategic bombing during World War II, particularly terror bombing and/or aerial bombing of cities. They comprised the V-1 flying bomb, the V-2 rocket and the V-3 cannon. All of these weapons were intended for use in a military campaign against Britain, though only the V-1 and V-2 were so used in a campaign conducted 1944-5. After the invasion of Europe by the Allies, these weapons were also employed against targets on the mainland of Europe.
They were part of the range of the so-called Wunderwaffen (wonderweapons) of the Third Reich.

The increasing hardship of the war for the German people also called forth more propaganda explaining that the war had been forced on the German people by the refusal of foreign powers to accept their strength and independence.
Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels called for propaganda to toughen up the German people, and not make victory look easy.

Adolf Hitler reading
the ‘Völkischer Beobachter’

The ‘Völkischer Beobachter’ (“People’s Observer”) was the official daily newspaper of the NSDAP since December 1920.

It disseminated National Socialist ideology in the form of brief articles directed against the weakness of parliamentarism, the evils of Jewry and Bolshevism, the national humiliation of the Versailles Treaty and other such topics.

The Völkischer Beobachter (“Völkisch Observer”) was the newspaper of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) from 1920. It first appeared weekly, then daily from 8 February 1923. For twenty-five years it formed part of the official public face of the Nazi party. The “fighting paper of the National Socialist movement of Greater Germany” (Kampfblatt der nationalsozialistischen Bewegung Großdeutschlands) had its origin in the Münchner Beobachter (“Munich Observer”).

Dietrich Eckart
Thule Gesellschaft

In 1918 was acquired by the ‘Thule Society‘, and in August 1919 was renamed Völkischer Beobachter. The NSDAP purchased it in December 1920 on the initiative of Chase Bauduin and Dietrich Eckart, (both Thule members) who became the first editors. In 1921, Adolf Hitler acquired all shares in the company, making him the sole owner of the publication. The circulation of the paper was initially about 8,000 but increased to 25,000 in autumn 1923 due to strong demand during the Occupation of the Ruhr. In that year Alfred Rosenberg became editor. With the prohibition of the NSDAP after the Munich Putsch of 9 November 1923, the paper also had to cease publication, which resumed however on the party’s re-foundation on 26 February 1925. The circulation rose along with the success of the NSDAP, reaching more than 120,000 in 1931 and 1.7 million by 1944.

It was joined in 1926 by ‘Der Angriff’ (“The Attack”), a weekly and later daily paper founded by Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels.

The newspaper was set up by Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, who in 1926 had become the Gauleiter in Berlin, and the NSDAP provided most of the money needed to ensure publication. The paper was first founded to rally NSDAP members during the nearly two-year ban on the party in Berlin. ‘Der Angriff’ was conceived as a mass circulation paper that fought the hated “System”.

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbles

The most regular contributors were party functionaries; lead articles were usually written by the publisher, Dr Goebbels, until 1933, and signed “Dr. G.”. Willi Krause, using the pen name Peter Hagen, was its first editor-in-chief. He was succeeded first by Julius Lippert, (see below) then in 1933 by Karoly Kampmann, and from 1935, by Dr Goebbels’s trusted friend Hans Schwarz van Berk. A further attraction of the paper were the political caricatures by Hans Schweitzer.

Julius Lippert

Julius Lippert (9 July 1895–30 June 1956) was a German politician in the NSDAP.

Born in Basel, Switzerland, he became a nationalist in his youth after reading the philosophers Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau and Houston Stewart Chamberlain. He joined the German military and fought in World War I, twice being wounded, and ended the war as a 2nd Lieutenant.In 1936, Lippert supervised the 1936 Olympic Games.

Der Angriff was first published 4 July 1927 by the Angriff Press. Its motto was “For the oppressed against the exploiters“. In 1927 the circulation was around 2,000. This number rose to 146,694 in 1939 and 306,000 by 1944. After the NSDAP gained political power in Germany on 30 January 1933, the importance of the newspaper slowly decreased. When the Allies started the bombing campaign against Berlin, the circulation was increased to keep up the morale of Berliners. After 19 February 1945 Der Angriff was merged with the Berliner Illustrierte Nachtausgabe (Berlin Illustrated Night Edition). The last edition was published on 24 April 1945.

‘Der Angriff ‘ was mainly dedicated to attacks against political opponents and Jews – but also engaged in the glorification of National Socialist heroes such as Horst Wessel.

Horst Ludwig Wessel
Horst Ludwig Wessel

Horst Ludwig Wessel (October 9, 1907 – February 23, 1930) was a NSDAP activist and an SA-Sturmführer who was made a posthumous hero of the National Socialist movement following his violent death in 1930. He was the author of the lyrics to the song “Die Fahne hoch” (“The Flag On High”), usually known as ‘Horst-Wessel-Lied‘ (“the Horst Wessel Song”), which became the NSDAP anthem and, de facto, Germany’s co-national anthem from 1933 to 1945. His death also resulted in his becoming the “patron” for the Luftwaffe’s 26th Destroyer Wing, and the 18th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division during World War II.

‘llustrierter Beobachter

The ‘Illustrierter Beobachter’ was their weekly illustrated paper.

Other National Socialist publications included ‘Das Reich’, a more moderate and highbrow publication aimed at intellectuals; and ‘Das Schwarze Korps’, an SS publication, aiming at a more intellectual tone.
After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, all of the regular press came under complete NSDAP editorial control through the policy of ‘Gleichschaltung’, and short-lived propaganda newspapers were also established in the conquered territories during World War II.


The NSDAP relied heavily on speakers to make its propaganda presentations, most heavily before they came to power, but also afterwards.

Hitler, in ‘Mein Kampf’, recounted that he had realized that it was not written matter but the spoken word that brought about changes, as people would not read things that disagreed, but would linger to hear a speaker.
Furthermore, speakers, having their audiences before them, could see their reactions and adjust accordingly, to persuade.
His own oratory was a major factor in his rise, and he despised those who came to read pre-written speeches.
Sturmabteilung speakers were used, though their reliance on instinct sometimes ‘offended’ well-educated audiences, but their blunt and folksy manner often had their own appeal.
The ministry would provide such speakers with information, such as how to explain the problems on the Eastern Front, or how to discuss the cuts in food rations.
The party propaganda headquarters, sent the Redner-Schnellinformation (Speakers’ Express Information) out with guidelines for immediate campaigns, such as anti-Semitic campaigns and what information to present.
Specific groups were targeted with such speakers.
Speakers, for instance, were created specifically for Hitler Youth.
Nürnberg 1937
Hitler Jugend
Reichsparteitag Nürnberg

Poster art was a mainstay of the National Socialist propaganda effort, aimed both at Germany itself and occupied territories.

It had several advantages.
The visual effect, being striking, would reach the viewer easily.
Posters were also, unlike other forms of propaganda, difficult to avoid.
Imagery frequently drew on heroic realism.
National Socialist youth and the SS were depicted monumentally, with lighting posed to produce grandeur.
Hans Schweitzer, under the pen name “Mjölnir” produced many National Socialist posters.
Posters were also used in schools.
The National Socialists produced many films to promote their views.
Themes included the virtues of the Nordic or Aryan type, German military and industrial strength, and the evils of Germany’s enemies.
On March 13, 1933, the Third Reich established a Ministry of Propaganda, appointing Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels as its Minister.

Reichskulturkammer (RKK)

On September 22, 1933, a ‘Department of Film’ was incorporated into the ‘Chamber of Culture’.

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels

The Reichskulturkammer (RKK) (“Reich Chamber of Culture”) was an institution in Nazi Germany. It was established by law on 22 September 1933 in the course of the ‘Gleichschaltung’ process at the instigation of Reich Minister Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels as a professional organization of all German creative artists. It was intended to control the entire cultural life in Germany, promoting art created by “Aryans” and seen as consistent with National Socialist ideals.
Every artist had to apply for membership on presentation of an Aryan certificate. A rejected inscription de facto resulted in a profession ban.
The RKK was affiliated with the Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment with its seat in Berlin. Headed by Dr Goebbels, a state secretary of his ministry served as vice president:

The department controlled the licensing of every film prior to its production.
Sometimes, the government would select the actors for a film, financing the production partially or totally, and would grant tax breaks to the producers.
Awards for “valuable” films would decrease taxes, thus encouraging self-censorship among movie makers.
Under Dr Goebbels and Hitler, the German film industry became entirely nationalised.

‘Triumph des Willens’  – Final Scene
Leni Riefenstahl 

The National Socialist Propaganda Directorate, which Dr Goebbels oversaw, had at its disposal nearly all film agencies in Germany by 1936.

Schools were also provided with motion pictures projectors because film was regarded as particularly appropriate for propagandizing children.
Newsreels were explicitly intended to portray such of the truth as was in the interest of Germany to spread.
‘Triumph des Willens’ (Triumph of the Will, 1934) by film-maker Leni Riefenstahl chronicles the Reich Partietag.
It features footage of uniformed party members (though relatively few German soldiers), who are marching and drilling to classical melodies.
The film contains excerpts from speeches given by various leaders of the NSDAP at the Congress, including speeches by Adolf Hitler.

Triumph des Willens
Der Sieg des Glaubens

‘Triumph des Willens’ is a 1935 film made by Leni Riefenstahl. It chronicles the 1934 Reichsparteitag in Nürnberg, which was attended by more than 700,000 Germans. 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 leader who will bring glory to the nation. An earlier, less successful film ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’ (Victory if Faith) had also been made of  the Fifth Party Rally, which occurred in Nürnberg from 30 August to 3 September 1933.
‘Triumph des Willens’ was released in 1935.
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’ 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 has continued to influence movies, documentaries, and commercials to this day.

‘Der ewige Jude’ (The Eternal Jew, 1940) was directed by Fritz Hippler at the insistence of Dr Goebbels, though the writing is credited to Eberhard Taubert.

‘Der ewige Jude’

The Eternal Jew (1940) is an anti-Semitic propaganda film, presented as a documentary. The film’s title in German is ‘Der ewige Jude’, the German term for the character of the “Wandering Jew” in medieval folklore. At the insistence of the Minister of Propaganda, Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, the film was directed by Fritz Hippler. The screenplay is credited to Eberhard Taubert. The film consists of feature and documentary footage combined with materials filmed shortly after the Nazi occupation of Poland. At this time Poland’s Jewish population was about three million, roughly ten percent of the total population. Actor Harry Giese (1903–1991) narrated.

The movie is done in the style of a documentary, the central thesis being the immutable racial personality traits that characterize the Jew as a wandering cultural parasite.
Throughout the film, these traits are contrasted to the National Socialist ideal: while Aryan men find satisfaction in physical labour and the creation of value, Jews only find pleasure in money and a hedonist lifestyle.
The National Socialists and sympathizers published many books.
Most of the beliefs that would become associated with the National Socialism, such as German nationalism, eugenics and anti-Semitism had been in circulation since the 19th century, and the National Socialists seized on this body of existing work in their own publications.
The most notable is Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ detailing his beliefs.
The book outlines Hitler’s major ideas.

Hans F. K. Günther
Gustave Le Bon

It is heavily influenced by Gustave Le Bon’s 1895 ‘The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind’, which theorized propaganda as a way to control the seemingly irrational behaviour of crowds.

Particularly prominent is the anti-Semitism of Hitler and his associates.
Other books such as ‘Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes’ (Ethnology of German People) by Hans F. K. Günther and ‘Rasse und Seele’ (Race and Soul) by Dr. Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss (de) identify and classify the differences between the German, Nordic, or Aryan type and other supposedly inferior peoples.

Karl May
Dr. Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss

These books were used as texts in German schools during the Third Reich.

The pre-existing and popular genre of ‘Schollen-roman’, or ‘novel of the soil’, also known as ‘Blut und Boden’ (blood and soil) novels, was given a boost by the acceptability of its themes to National Socialists and developed a mysticism of unity.
The immensely popular “Red Indian” stories by Karl May were permitted despite the heroic treatment of the hero Winnetou and “colored” races; instead, the argument was made that the stories demonstrated the fall of the Red Indians was caused by a lack of racial consciousness, to encourage it in the Germans.
Other fictional works were also adapted; Heidi was stripped of its Christian elements, and Robinson Crusoe’s relationship to Friday was made a master-slave one.
Text Books
“Geopolitical atlases” emphasized National Socialist theories, demonstrating the “encirclement” of Germany, depicting how the prolific Slav nations would cause the German people to be overrun, and (in contrast) showing the relative population density of Germany was much higher than that of the Eastern regions (where they would seek Lebensraum).
Geography text books stated how crowded Germany had become.
Math books discussed military applications and used military word problems, physics and chemistry concentrated on military applications, and grammar classes were devoted to propaganda sentences.
Other textbooks dealt with the history of the NSDAP.

Elementary school reading text included large amounts of propaganda.

Children were taught through textbooks that they were the Aryan master race (Herrenvolk) while the Jews were untrustworthy, parasitic and Untermenschen (inferior subhumans).
Even fairy tales were put to use, with Cinderella being presented as a tale of how the prince’s racial instincts lead him to reject the stepmother’s alien blood for the racially pure maiden.
Nordic sagas were likewise presented as the illustration of ‘Führerprinzip’, which was developed with such heroes as Frederick the Great and Otto von Bismarck.
Literature was to be chosen within the “German spirit” rather than a fixed list of forbidden and required, although Jewish authors were not permitted in the classroom.
While only William Shakespeare’s MacBeth and The Merchant of Venice were actually recommended, none of the plays were actually forbidden.
Biology texts, however, were put the most use in presenting eugenic principles and racial theories; this included explanations of the Nuremberg Laws, which were shown to allow the German and Jewish peoples to co-exist without the danger of mixing.
Science was to be presented as the most natural area for introducing the “Jewish Question”, once teachers took care to point out that in nature, animals associated with those of their own species.
Despite their many photographs glamorizing the “Nordic” type, the texts also claimed that visual inspection was insufficient, and genealogical analysis was required to determine their types, and report any hereditary problems, however, the National Socialist Teachers League (NSLB) stressed that at primary schools in particular they had to work on only the Nordic racial core of the German Volk and have to contrast this with the racial composition of foreign populations and the Jews.

Nationalsozialistische Lehrerbund (NSLB)

The Nationalsozialistische Lehrerbund (NSLB), (National Socialist Teachers League), was established on 21 April 1929. This organization lasted until 1943. Its seat was in Bayreuth. The founder and first “Reichswalter” of the organization was Hans Schemm. Its organ was the Nationalsozialistische Lehrerzeitung (NS Teachers’ News). Its goal was to make the National Socialist world-view the foundation of all education and especially of schooling. In order to achieve this it sought to have an effect on the political viewpoint of educators, insisting on the further development of their spirit along National Socialist lines. 
After 1933 the NSDAP validated the NSLB as the sole organization of teachers in the German Reich. In July 1935 the NSLB was merged with the existing organization of lecturers to form the Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Dozentenbund (NSDDB) (National Socialist German University Lecturers League).

National Socialist publications also carried various forms of propaganda.
‘Neues Volk’, the monthly publication of the Office of Racial Policy, carried racial propaganda.
While chiefly aimed at fomenting ethnic pride through ideal Aryan types, it also included articles aimed at Jews.
The ‘NS-Frauen-Warte’, aimed at women, included such topics as the role of women in the Nazi state. 
Despite its propaganda elements, it was predominately a woman’s magazine.
It defended certain aspects of anti-intellectualism, urged women to have children, even in wartime, put forth what the NSDAP had done for women, discusses bridal schools, and urged women to greater efforts in total war.

Gertrud Scholtz-Klink


The NS-Frauen-Warte was the magazine for women.Put out by the NS-Frauenschaft, it had the status of the only party approved magazine for women, and served propaganda purposes, particularly supporting the role of housewife and mother as exemplary.
Gertrud Scholtz-Klink née Treusch (9 February 1902 – 24 March 1999) was a fervent member of the NSDAP, and leader of the National Socialist Women’s League (NS-Frauenschaft) in Nazi Germany.
The NS-Frauen-Warte had articles on a wide range of topics of interest to women and included sewing patterns.
Its articles included such topics as the role of women in the state, Germanization in Poland, the education of youth, the importance of play for children, claims that Great Britain was responsible for the war, and the Bolshevist threat with the need to annihilate the Soviet Regime. It highlighted the achievements of National Socialist women, and how the system had benefited females, and discussed bridal schools. Poetry exulted in a child as a form of immortality. During wartime it urged women to have children, to join in the war effort either in employment or in Frauenschaft from the very beginning, and to greater efforts in total war. 
It was predominately a woman’s magazine despite containing propaganda; this contrasts sharply with ‘Das deutsche Mädel’, which lay emphasis on the strong and active German woman.

‘Der Pimpf’ was aimed at boys and contained both adventure and propaganda.

‘Der Pimpf’
‘Morgen’ – First Issue

‘Der Pimpf’was the National Socialist magazine for boys, particularly those in the ‘Deutsches Jungvolk’, with adventure and propaganda.
The Deutsches Jungvolk (German: “German Youth”) was a youth organization in for boys aged 10 to 14, and was a section of the Hitler Youth movement. Through a programme of outdoor activities, parades and sports, it aimed to indoctrinate its young members in the tenets of Nazi ideology. Membership became fully compulsory for eligible boys in 1939. By the end of World War II, some had become child soldiers.
The magazine ‘Der Pimpf’ first appeared in 1935 as ‘Morgen’ (Morning), changing its name to ‘Der Pimpf’ in 1937.
It included adventures of troops of Hitler Youth. Its last issue urged the boys to model themselves on the SS, and spoke of the SS Division “Hitler Jugend”.

The female counterpart, ‘Das deutsche Mädel’, lacked this emphasis on adventure.

Das deutsche Mädel

‘Das deutsche Mädel’ (The German Girl or Maiden) was a magazine aimed at German girls, particularly members of Bund Deutscher Mädel (League of German Girls).
Unlike the adventure orientation of ‘Der Pimpf’, intended for Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth), ‘Das deutsche Mädel’ urged hiking, tending the wounded, hard work in factories, and preparing for motherhood. On the other hand, in contrast to the woman’s magazine with some propaganda, ‘NS-Frauen-Warte’, it lay far more emphasis on the strong and active German woman; health, education, service, and sports were all featured, and famous women depicted included doctors, athletes, poets, and pilots.
Articles in it included describing a speech by Jutta Rüdiger when she was appointed to lead Bund Deutscher Mädel, telling the girls of their duties to Germany, and a story of how Young Girls had ensured that a dead father’s promise to his son was fulfilled.

‘Das deutsche Mädel’, in contrast, recommended for girls hiking, tending the wounded, and preparing for care for children.
It lay far more emphasis than ‘NS-Frauen-Warte’ on the strong and active German woman.
Signal was a propaganda magazine published by the Wehrmacht during World War II.
It was distributed throughout occupied Europe and neutral countries.

Signal Magazine

Signal was a modern, glossy, illustrated photo journal and army propaganda tool, meant specifically for audiences in neutral, allied, and occupied countries. A German edition was distributed in Switzerland and to various other countries with a strong German military presence, but Signal was never distributed in Germany proper. Signal was published fortnightly (plus some special issues) in as many as 25 editions and 30 languages, and at its height had a circulation of 2,500,000 copies. It was available in the United States in English until December 1941. The last number was 6/45, only known in one sample from the Swedish edition.
Signal described the combat conditions of the German troops and their allies in all fronts, together with high quality photos, including a central double page full colour picture. Many of the most famous photos of World War II to be seen today are taken from Signal. The magazine also included articles about economics, science, arts, and advertising for the most well-known German companies (BMW, Agfa, Audi, Siemens …). 
The magazine kept its independence from the Propaganda Ministry, remaining under control of the army. Still, there is a political message, one of a unified Europe (under the so-called ‘New Order’) fighting together against the Bolshevism, this idea was symbolized by the different foreign units and volunteers fighting for the Third Reich.

“Signal” was published from April 1940 to March 1945, and had the highest sales of any magazine published in Europe during the period 1940 to 1945 – circulation peaked at two and one half million in 1943.
At various times, it was published in at least twenty languages.
There was an English edition distributed in the British Channel Islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Sark –  these islands were occupied by the Wehrmacht during World War II.
The promoter of the magazine was the chief of the Wehrmacht propaganda office, Colonel Hasso von Wedel.
Its annual budget was 10 million Reichmarks, roughly $2.5 million at the pre-war exchange rate.
The image that ‘Signal’ hoped to create was that of the Third Reich and its New Order as the great benefactor of European peoples, and of Western civilization in general.
Germany and its allies were shown to be the humane liberators of the occupied nations.
Some articles displayed colour photographs of dramatic battle scenes.
The magazine contained little anti-Semitic propaganda, and the Jews were hardly mentioned.
Adolf Hitler – Radio Speech

Before Hitler came to power, he rarely used the radio as forms of connection with the public, and when he did so non-party newspapers were allowed publish his speeches.

This soon changed after he came to power in 1933, Hitler’s speeches became famous all over Germany and were often major events for the Germans, the speeches were broadcast on the national radio, every newspaper published his speeches, they were shown in the weekly newsreels and reprinted in large editions in books and pamphlets all across Germany.
The speeches made by Hitler became so significant to the National Socialists that that even restaurants and pubs were expected have their radios on whenever Hitler was delivering one of his speeches and in some cities even public speakers were used so passers-by could hear him deliver one of his speeches.
The extent that National Socialist propaganda emphasized and portrayed his speeches was done in so the main points of his speeches appeared in the weekly posters and were all over Germany by the hundreds of thousands.
The radio was an important tool in National Socialist propaganda, and it has been argued that it was the National Socialists who pioneered the use of what was still a relatively new technology.
Internal Broadcasts

Certainly the National Socialists recognised the importance of radio in disseminating their message, and to that end Dr Goebbels approved a scheme whereby millions of cheap radio sets (the Volksempfänger) were subsidised by the government.

The Volksempfänger (German for “people’s receiver”) was a range of radio receivers developed by engineer Otto Griessing at the request of Propaganda Minister Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels.
The purpose of the Volksempfänger-program was to make radio reception technology affordable to the general public. Joseph Goebbels realized the great propaganda potential of this relatively new medium and thus considered widespread availability of receivers highly important. The original Volksempfänger VE301 model was presented on August 18, 1933 at the Große Deutsche Funkausstellung in Berlin. The VE301 was available at a readily affordable price of 76 German Reichsmark (equivalent to two weeks’ average salary), and a cheaper 35 Reichsmark model, the DKE38  fitted with a multisection tube, was also later produced, along with a series of other models under the Volksempfänger, Gemeinschaftsempfänger, KdF (Kraft durch Freude), DKE (Deutscher Kleinempfänger) and other brands.

Volksempfänger Poster

1936 Nazi propaganda poster, promoting the use of the Volksempfänger. The translated text reads, “All Germany hears the Führer with the Volksempfänger.

Dr Goebbels claimed the radio was the “eighth great power“, and he, along with the NSDAP, recognized the power of the radio in the propaganda machine of the Third Reich.
In that “Radio as the Eighth Great Power” speech, Dr Goebbels proclaimed: ‘
It would not have been possible for us to take power or to use it in the ways we have without the radio.
It is no exaggeration to say that the German revolution, at least in the form it took, would have been impossible without the air-plane and the radio.
Radio reached the entire nation, regardless of class, standing, or religion.
That was primarily the result of the tight centralization, the strong reporting, and the up-to-date nature of the German radio.
Above all it is necessary to clearly centralize all radio activities, to place spiritual tasks ahead of technical ones, to provide a clear world-view.’
By the start of the Second World War over 70% of German households had one of these radios.
Radio broadcasts were also played over loudspeakers in public places and workplaces.
In private homes, however, people could easily turn off the radio when bored, and did so once the novelty of hearing the voice from a box wore off; this caused the National Socialists to introduce many non-propaganda elements, such as music, advice and tips, serials and other entertainment.
This was accelerated in the war to prevent people from tuning in enemy propaganda broadcasts.
Fine Art
Adolf Ziegler – ‘The Four Elements’

By National Socialist standards, fine art was not propaganda.

Its purpose was to create ideals, for ‘eternity’.
This produced a call for heroic and romantic art, which reflected the ideal rather than the real.
Explicitly political paintings were very rare.
Still more rare were anti-Semitic paintings, because the art was supposed to be on a higher plane. 
Nevertheless, selected themes, common in propaganda, were the most common topics of art.
Sculpture was used as an expression of National Socialist racial theories.
The most common image was of the nude male, expressing the ideal of the Aryan race.
Nudes were required to be physically perfect.
At the Paris Exposition of 1937, Josef Thorak’s ‘Comradeship’ stood outside the German pavilion, depicting two enormous nude males, clasping hands and standing defiantly side by side, in a pose of defence and racial camaraderie.

Haus der Deutschen Kunst
Tag der Deutschen Kunst

On 15 and 16 October 1939, the ‘Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung’ inside the ‘Haus der Deutschen Kunst‘ was complemented by the monumental ‘Tag der Deutschen Kunst’ (Day of German Art) celebration of “2,000 years of Germanic culture” where luxuriously draped floats (one of them carrying a 5 meter tall golden Reichsadler) and thousands of actors in historical costumes paraded down Prinzregentenstraße for hours in the presence of Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, Albert Speer, Robert Ley, Reinhard Heydrich, and many other high-ranking members of the government of the Third Reich, with minor events taking place in the Englischer Garten nearby. 

Landscape painting featured mostly heavily in ‘Die Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung‘ (Greater German Art Exhibition), in accordance with themes of ‘Blut und Boden’ (blood and soil).
Peasants were also popular images, reflecting a simple life in harmony with nature, frequently with large families.
With the advent of war, war art came to be a significant though still not predominating proportion.
The continuing of  ‘Die Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung‘ throughout the war was put forth as a manifestation of German Culture.
Death and Sacrifice – ‘Und ihr habt doch gesiegt’

Heroic death was often portrayed in National Socialist propaganda as glorious.
It was glorified in such films as ‘Flüchtlinge’, ‘Hans Westmar’, and ‘Kolber’.

Hans Westmar- ‘Einer von vielen’
Hanns Heinz Ewers
‘Hans Westmar. Einer von vielen. Ein deutsches Schicksal aus dem Jahre 1929’ (Hans Westmar. One of many. A German Fate from the Year 1929) was the last of an unofficial trilogy of films commissioned by the Third Reich shortly after coming to power in January 1933, celebrating the ‘Kampfzeit’ – a ‘mythologised’ history of their period in opposition, struggling to gain power. The film is a fictionalized life of the famous National Socialist martyr Horst Wessel.
The film was based on a novel, personally commissioned by Adolf Hitler from his close friend Hanns Heinz Ewers. It was among the first films to depict dying for Hitler as a glorious death for Germany, resulting in his spirit inspiring his comrades. His decision to go to the streets is presented as fighting “the real battle.”

‘Wunschkonzert’, though chiefly about the home-front, features one character who dies playing the organ in a church in order to guide his comrades, though he knows the enemy forces will also find him.

Wunschkonzert – Poster
Wunschkonzert (“Request Concert”) is a 1940 German drama propaganda film by Eduard von Borsody. After ‘Die grosse Liebe’, it was the most popular film of wartime Germany, reaching the second highest gross. The popular music show “Wunschkonzert für die Wehrmacht” (“Request Concert for the Wehrmacht”) was broadcast on the German radio network every Sunday afternoon. Its popularity was based on the fact that it broadcast music requested by men in the armed forces, thus uniting the armed forces and the homefront in Volksgemeinschaft. Reich Minister Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels insisted that all German performers contribute to it and concluded that a film based on it would be even more successful. Starring roles were played by Ilse Werner as Inge Wagner, Carl Raddatz as Herbert Koch and Joachim Brennecke as Helmut Winkler. Wunschkonzert was officially classified as “Politically valuable”, “Artistically valuable”, “Valuable for the people” and “Valuable for youth”. By the end of World War II the film had been seen by almost 26 million people and taken 7.6 million Reichsmarks.
‘Heroic Head’ – Arno Breker
‘Und ihr habt doch gesiegt ‘
And you are also victorious
The dead of World War I were also portrayed as heroic; in a film of ‘Operation Michael’, the general tells a major that they will be measured by the greatness of their sacrifice, not by that of their victory, and in ‘Leave on Parole’, the people are portrayed as being corrupted by pacifist slogans while soldiers stand their ground unflinching.

Even the film ‘Morgenrot’, predating the National Socialist seizure of power, and containing such matters as a woman refusing to rejoice because of the sufferings on the other side, praised such deaths and found favour among NSDAP officials.


‘Morgenrot’ is a 1933 German submarine film set during World War I.

Released three days after Adolf Hitler became Reichskanzler, it was the first film to have its screening in the Third Reich. It became a symbol of the new times. The title, literally “morning-red”, is German for Dawn) 
It was filmed in Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, the first German submarine movie made after World War I.
The film offered a heroization of death, with the captain explicitly stating that Germans may not know how to live, but they know how to die.
Propaganda about the Volk depicted it as a greater entity to which the individual belonged, and one worth dying for.
Several dead Storm-troopers were singled out for glorification by Dr Goebbels, especially Horst Wessel (see above).

Hitlerjunge Quex

The films ‘Hitlerjunge Quex’ and ‘S.A.-Mann Brand’ also glorified those had died in the struggle to seize power; ‘Quex’ was based on a novel that sold over 200,000 copies over two years.

Hitlerjunge Quex is a 1932 German propaganda novel based on the life of Herbert “Quex” Norkus. The 1933 movie ‘Hitlerjunge Quex: Ein Film vom Opfergeist der deutschen Jugend’ was based on the novel, and was described by Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels as the “first large-scale” transmission of National Socialist ideology using the medium of cinema.

Hitlerjunge Quex

Both the book and the movie, like ‘S.A.-Mann Brand’ and ‘Hans Westmar’ (see above), both released the same year, fictionalized and glorified death in the service of the NSDAP and Hitler. The novel Der Hitlerjunge Quex was written by Karl Aloys Schenzinger between May and September 1932. It was first published in Nazi party outlet Völkischer Beobachter, and as a book in December 1932.

Hitlerjungen marschieren
von Herbert Norkus ‘Grab der
NSDAP Kongress in Nürnberg

Both novel and movie are based on the real story of Herbert Norkus’ life. Norkus, a Hitler Youth member, died from injuries suffered when chased and confronted by Communist youths in the night of 23 / 24 January 1932 in the Beusselkietz neighbourhood of Moabit, Berlin. While the murder was condemned by the press, the Communists started a counter-propaganda offensive, describing the incident as an accidental result of Communist self-defense during a NSDAP attack. By January 1934 the film had been viewed by a million people.

Soldiers and street fighters were the heroes of the NSDAP – those who had died or might die.
Even the 1936 anthem for “Olympic youth” celebrated not sports but sacrificial death.
This continued in the war.
In 1942-3, the Winter Relief booklets recounted the stories of 20 decorated war heroes.
The dead of Stalingrad were portrayed as heroes of Valhalla.
A 1944 Mother’s Day Card, particularly intended for the wives and mothers of the war dead, presented a mystical view that the dead continued in the life that followed them.
Similarly, ‘Die grosse Liebe‘ depicted its self-centred heroine learning to bravely send the air force lieutenant she loves back to his squadron.
Zarah Leander 

Die große Liebe‘ (The Great Love) is a German drama film of the National Socialist period, made by Rolf Hansen, starring Zarah Leander and Viktor Staal.

It premièred in Berlin in 1942 and went on to become the most commercially successful film in the history of the Third Reich. The film included one of the most popular songs of the Third Reich – ‘Davon geht die Welt nicht unter‘ (“It’s Not the End of the World”). After 1942, as the military situation became more and more unfavourable to Germany, the song became a staple element of the prevalent informal propaganda geared to “seeing it through“. 
Deutscher Volkssturm Armband
The creation of the Volkssturm had propagandists make full use of themes of death, transcendence, and commemoration to encourage the fight. Dr Goebbels and other propagandists depicted the ‘Volkssturm’ as an outburst of enthusiasm and will to resist. National Socialist themes of death, transcendence, and commemoration were given full play to encourage the fight, however, many also realized that this was a desperate attempt to turn the course of the war.

Deutscher Volkssturm
The Volkssturm (“people’s army” or “national militia”) was a German national militia of the last months of World War II. It was set up, not by the traditional German Army, but by the NSDAP on the orders of Adolf Hitler on October 18, 1944. It conscripted males between the ages of 16 to 60 years who were not already serving in some military unit as part of a German Home Guard. ‘Volkssturm’ units were placed under direct command of the local NSDAP, meaning local Gau- and Kreisleiters. The ‘Volkssturm’ was also to become a nation-wide organization, with Heinrich Himmler as Replacement Army Commander, responsible for armament and training. Though normally under party control, ‘Volkssturm’ units were placed under Wehrmacht command when engaging in action.

Leopold Schmutzler – ‘Arbeiten Jungfrauen’ 1940

While men were the ones depicted as dying for Germany, women were also presented as needing to sacrifice.

Exercise was praised as making young women strong, able to do hard physical labour for their country at need, particularly in agriculture, where the ‘blood and soil’ ideology glamorized hard labour at the farm.
This was not, however, translated in strong propaganda for women to join the workforce during the war; NS-Frauenschaft, in its magazine ‘NS-Frauen-Warte’ and the speeches of Gertrud Scholtz-Klink, urged such behaviour, and collections of essays praised heroic German women of the past, but the propaganda was weak and not widespread or repeated.
Part of the problem may have been that the German government had called for sacrifice incessantly since 1931, and could bring no new appeal to it with the outbreak of war.
Women, and other civilians, were also called on by Dr Goebbels to reduce their standard of living to that of soldiers and civilians living in bombed areas, so as to sacrifice that material for total mobilization.
Many propaganda films developed the importance of the ‘Führerprinzip’ or leader principle.
‘Flüchtlinge’ depicted Volga German refugees being saved from persecution by a leader, who demands their unquestioning obedience.
‘Der Herrscher’ depicts its hero, Clausen, as the unwavering leader of his munitions firm, who, faced with his children’s machinations, disowns them and bestows the firm on the state, confident that a worker will arise capable of continuing his work and, as a true leader, needing no instruction.
Otto von Bismark
Frederick the Great

In schools, adolescent boys were presented with Nordic sagas as the illustration of ‘Führerprinzip’, which was developed with such heroes as Frederick the Great and Otto von Bismarck.

Hitler Youth in particular indoctrinated for blind obedience and “Führer worship.”
This combined with the glorification of the one, central Führer.
At the time of the Munich Putsch, Hitler used his trial to present himself, claiming it had been his sole responsibility and inspiring the title Fuhrer.
Booklets given out for the Winter Relief donations included ‘The Führer Makes History’, a collection of Hitler photographs, and ‘The Führer’s Battle in the East’.
Films such as ‘Der Marsch zum Führer’ and ‘Triumph of the Will’ glorified him.
Carl Schmitt, drawn to the Nazi party by his admiration for a decisive leader, praised Hitler in his pamphlet ‘State, Volk and Movement’, because only the ruthless will of such a leader could save Germany and its people from the “asphalt culture” of modernity, to bring about unity and authenticity.
The Volksgemeinschaft or people’s community received a great deal of propaganda support.
The Volk were not just a people; a mystical soul united them, and propaganda continually portrayed individuals as part of a great whole, worth dying for.
This was portrayed as overcoming distinctions of party and social class.
A common Party mantra declared they must put “collective need ahead of individual greed” – a widespread sentiment in this era.
The commonality this created across classes was among the great appeals of National Socialism.
After the failure of the Munich Putsch, Hitler, on the trial, centred his defence on his selfless devotion to the good of the Volk, and the need for bold action to save them.
The Versailles settlement had betrayed Germany, which they had tried to save.
Thereafter, his speeches concentrated on his boundless devotion to the Volk, though not entirely eliminating the antisemitism.
Even once in power, his immediate speeches spoke of serving Germany.
The Volksgemeinschaft was also used for war support.
Film on the home-front during World War II, depicted the war uniting all levels of society, as in the two most popular films of the war era, ‘Die grosse Liebe’ and ‘Wunschkonzert’ (see above).
Failure to support the war was an anti-social act; this propaganda managed to bring arms production to a peak in 1944.
Blut und Boden’ – Blood and Soil
Blut und Boden

Closely related to the community was the notion of ‘blood and soil‘, a mystical bond between the German people and Germanic lands.

A true Volkish life was rural and agrarian, rather than urban, a theme pre-dating National Socialism.
It was foundational to the concept of ‘Lebensraum’ (Living-space).
Prior to their ascension to power, NSAP called for a movement back to the rural areas, from the cities.
Blood and soil” novels and theatre celebrated the farmer’s life and human fertility, often mystically linking them.
Adolf Wissel – ‘Bauernfamilie’
Erbhofbauer – Farmstead Peasant
Hans Toepper
‘Neues Volk’ displayed demographic charts to deplore the destruction of the generous Aryan families’ farmland, and how the Jews were eradicating traditional German peasantry.
Posters for school depicted and deplored the flight of people from the countryside to the city.
‘Der Giftpilz’, a children’s book, included an account of a Jewish financier forcing a German to sell his farm.
Carl Schmitt argued that a people would develop laws appropriate to its “blood and soil because authenticity required loyalty to the Volk over abstract so-called ‘universals’.
The charge laid against degenerate art was that it had been cut off from ‘blood and soil‘.
Landscape paintings were featured most heavily in the ‘Greater German Art Exhibitions’, to depict the German people’s Lebensraum.
Peasants were also popular images, promoting a simple life in harmony with nature.
Blud und Boden‘ films likewise stressed the commonality of Germaness and the countryside.
‘Die goldene Stadt’ has the heroine running away to the city; after becoming pregnant, she drowns herself.
Her last words beg her father to forgive her for not loving the countryside as he did.
Nazi propaganda promoted Nazi ideology by demonizing the enemies of the Nazi Party, especially Jews and communists, but also capitalists and intellectuals.
It promoted the values asserted by National Socialists, including heroic death, Führerprinzip (leader principle), Volksgemeinschaft (people’s community), Blut und Boden (blood and soil) and the youth were taught early to take pride in the Germanic Master Race (Herrenvolk).
Propaganda was also used to maintain the cult of personality around Adolf Hitler, and to promote campaigns for eugenics and the annexation of German-speaking areas.
After the outbreak of World War II, National Socialist propaganda vilified Germany’s enemies, notably the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States, and exhorted the population to partake in total war in defence of European Civilisation.

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© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Propaganda Posters of the Third Reich

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
The National Socialists possessed a highly refined æsthetic sensibility, and they enacted their æsthetic at every level of politics and policy including propaganda.
Adolf Hitler, and many of his associates, not only believed themselves to be artists, but were regarded by others, at the time, as artists, whose very ideology was founded in an essentially æsthetic logic.
This is generally referred to as the  ‘æstheticization’ of politics.
Alpine Landscape
Adolf Hitler
The artistic ambitions of Adolf Hitler, Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, Alfred Rosenberg, Baldur von Schirach, Walther Funk and others were originally deeper than their political ambitions, and were essential elements of their personalities.
There were two conceptual cornerstones of National Socialist ideology – redemption and monumentality – which found their expression in National Socialist æsthetic productions, which were not only means by which to deliver a political message, but very much part of the message itself.
Without recognizing the central role aesthetics actually played in the regime of the Third Reich, we cannot ignore the basic historical fact that Art, beauty and æsthetics were not benign by-products of the Third Reich, but part and parcel of its coherent, internal logic.
Propaganda was skilfully used by the NSDAP in the years leading up to and during Adolf Hitler’s leadership of Germany (1933–1945).
National Socialist propaganda provided a crucial instrument for acquiring and maintaining power, and for the implementation of their policies, including the pursuit of total war.
‘Mein Kampf’
Adolf Hitler – circa 1920s
Adolf Hitler devoted three chapters of his 1925/26 book ‘Mein Kampf‘, itself a propaganda tool, to the study and practice of propaganda.
He claimed to have learnt the value of propaganda as a World War I infantryman exposed to very effective British and ineffectual German propaganda.
The argument that Germany lost the war largely because of British propaganda efforts, expounded at length in ‘Mein Kampf’, reflected then common German nationalist claims.
Although untrue – German propaganda during World War I was mostly more advanced than that of the British – it became the official truth of Nazi Germany thanks to its reception by Hitler.
The propaganda of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party regime that governed Germany from 1933 to 1945 promoted National Socialist ideology by demonizing the enemies of the NSDAP, notably Jews and communists, but also capitalists and intellectuals.
It promoted the values of National Socialism, including heroic death, Führerprinzip (leader principle), Volksgemeinschaft (people’s community), Blut und Boden (blood and soil) and pride in the Germanic Herrenvolk (master race).
Propaganda was also used to maintain the cult of personality around Adolf Hitler, and to promote campaigns for eugenics and the annexation of German-speaking areas.
After the outbreak of World War II, Nazi propaganda vilified Germany’s enemies, notably the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States, and in 1943 exhorted the population to total war.
Heroic ‘Eternal’ Art
Arno Breker
Poster art was a mainstay of the NSDAP propaganda effort, aimed both at Germany itself, and at occupied territories.
It had several advantages.
The visual effect, being striking, would reach the viewer easily.
Posters were also, unlike other forms of propaganda, difficult to avoid.
Imagery frequently drew on heroic realism.
National Socialist Youth and the SS were depicted monumentally, with lighting posed to produce grandeur.
The artistic standard of National Socialist graphic design was remarkably high, but it must be remembered that in accordance with National Socialist theory poster art was not ‘high art’.
‘High art’ – in National Socialist theory – was considered to be ‘eternal’, whereas poster art was temporal and utilitarian.
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Nürnberg Reichsparteitag 1936
Triumph des Willens

Triumph des Willens
Dem Führer die Treue

Kdf Volkswagen
National Socialism is the guarantor of victory
Mother’s Day – God has blessed the hearts of mothers as vessels of sacrifice in a time of greatness.

Hard and without pity as we have been in our struggle for power, so will we also be in the struggle for the preservation of our nation.

Adolf Hitler


From The Duties of the German Soldier – Great achievements in war and peace can only be accomplished through an unshakable unity of Führer and Army.


National Socialism is highest soldierly bearing in all ways of life.


Sacrifices created the great German Empire. Through sacrifices it will be made everlasting !


5 years-Strength through Joy- Strength through Joy’ is not simply a recreational organization-rather it is a national socialistic community that contributes to the realization of a new way of life and establishes a new social order.



Art is the highest expression of the creative powers of a nation. The artist is blessed with the task to give it meaning.

Dr. Josef Goebbels

Deutschen Jugend
Reichsparteitag Nürnberg 1937
Weimar Gau Tag 1936
Hitler Jugend – Reichsparteitag Nürnberg
1943 Paper Drive
Deutsche Reichsport
I gave my vote to the Führer

Election Poster

Austria Comes Home !



Germany is victorious on all fronts

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© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Eduard Bloch – The Hitler I Knew


Editor’s Introduction

Eduard Bloch (30 January 1872 – 1 June 1945) was a Jewish-Austrian doctor practicing in Linz (Austria). Until 1907 Bloch was the doctor of Adolf Hitler’s family.
Hitler later awarded Bloch special protection after the Austrian Anschluß.

Early Years 

Bloch was born in Frauenberg, studied medicine in Prague and then served as a medical officer in the Austrian army.
In 1899 he was stationed in Linz and opened a private doctor’s practice after his discharge in 1901 in the baroque house at 12 Landstrasse, where he also lived with his family: his wife, Emilie (née Kafka) and their daughter Trude, born in 1903.
According to Linz’s future mayor Ernst Koref, Bloch was held in high regard, particularly among the lower and indigent social classes.
It was generally known that at any time at night he was willing to call on patients. He used to go on visits in his hansom, wearing a conspicuous broad brimmed hat.
Like most Jews in Linz at the time, the Bloch family were assimilated Jews.

The Hitler Family Doctor
The first member of the Hitler family Bloch was to see was Adolf Hitler.
In 1904, Hitler had become seriously ill and was bedridden due to a serious lung ailment.
Due to this, he was allowed to abandon his school career and return home, however, after checking Hitler’s files Bloch later maintained that he had treated the youth for only minor ailments, cold, or tonsilitis and that Hitler had been neither robust nor sickly.
He also stated that Hitler did not have any illness whatsoever, let alone a lung disease.
In 1907 Hitler’s mother, Klara Hitler was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She died on December 21 after intense suffering that required daily medication usually given by Bloch. Because of the poor economic situation of the Hitler family at that time, Bloch had been working for reduced prices, sometimes taking no money at all.
The then 18 year old Hitler granted him his “everlasting gratitude” for this (“Ich werde Ihnen ewig dankbar sein“).
This showed in 1908 when Hitler wrote Bloch a postcard assuring him of his gratitude.
Young Hitler expressed his gratitude and reverence to Bloch with handmade gifts, for example, a large wall painting which according to Bloch’s daughter Gertrude (Trude) Kren (*1903 in Austria, +1992 in USA) was lost in the course of time.
Even in 1937, Hitler inquired about Bloch’s well-being and called him an “Edeljude” (noble Jew).
Bloch also apparently had a special fondness for the Hitler family which was to serve him well in the future.


After the Third Reich’s annexing of Austria in 1938 life became hard for Austrian Jews.
Bloch’s medical practice was closed on October 1, 1938.
His daughter and son-in-law, Bloch’s young colleague Dr. Franz Kren (born 1893 in Austria, died 1976 in the USA), fled overseas.
The sixty-six-year-old Bloch wrote a letter to Hitler asking for help and was as a consequence put under special protection by the Gestapo.
He was the only Jew in Linz with this status.
Bloch stayed in his house with his wife undisturbed until the formalities for his emigration to the United States were completed. 
In 1940 Bloch emigrated and lived in the Bronx, 2755 Creston Avenue, New York City but no longer practiced medicine because his medical degree was not recognised.
He died of stomach cancer at the age of seventy three in 1945.


Young Hitler
Eduard Bloch

I knew Adolf Hitler as a boy and as a young man.
I treated him many times and was intimately familiar with the modest surroundings in which he grew to manhood.
I attended, in her final illness, the person nearer and dearer to him than all others – his mother.

Most biographers – both sympathetic and unsympathetic – have avoided the youth of Adolf Hitler.
The unsympathetic ones have done this of necessity.
They could lay their hands on only the most meager facts.
The official party biographies have skipped over this period because of the dictator’s wishes.
Why this abnormal sensitivity about his youth ? I do not know.
There are no scandalous chapters which Hitler might wish to hide, unless one goes back over a hundred years to the birth of his father.
Some biographers say that Alois Hitler was an illegitimate child.
I cannot speak for the accuracy of this statement.
What of those early years in Linz, Austria, where Hitler spent his formative years ?
What kind of boy was he ?
What kind of a life did he lead? It is of these things that we shall speak here.


First, I might introduce myself.
I was born in Frauenburg, a tiny village in southern Bohemia which, in the course of my lifetime, had been under three flags: Austrian, Czechoslovakian and German.
I am sixty-nine years old.
I studied medicine in Prague, then joined the Austrian army as a military doctor.


In 1899 I was ordered to Linz, capital of Upper Austria, and the third largest city in the country. When I completed my army service in 1901 I decided to remain in Linz and practice medicine.


As a city, Linz has always been as quiet and reserved as Vienna was gay and noisy.
In the period of which we are about to speak – when Adolf Hitler was a boy of 14 – Linz was a city of 80,000 people.

Landstrasse – Linz

My consultation rooms and home were in the same house, an ancient baroque structure on Landstrasse, the main thoroughfare of the city.

The Hitler family moved to Linz in 1903, because, I believe, of the good schools there.
The family background is well known.

Alois Schicklgruber Hitler

Alois Schicklgruber Hitler was the son of a poor peasant girl.
When he was old enough to work he got a job as a cobbler’s apprentice, worked his way into the government service and became a customs inspector at Braunau, a tiny frontier town between Bavaria and Austria.


Braunau is fifty miles from Linz.
At fifty-six Alois Hitler became eligible for a pension and retired. Proud of his own success, he was anxious for his son to enter government service.
Young Adolf violently opposed the idea.
He would be an artist.

Klara Hitler

Father and son fought over this while the mother, Klara Hitler, tried to maintain peace.

As long as he lived Alois Hitler persevered in trying to shape his son’s destiny to his own desires.
His son would have the education which had been denied him; an education which would secure him a good government job.
So Father Alois prepared to leave the hamlet of Braunau for the city of Linz.

Realschule – Linz

Because of his government service, he would not be required to pay the full tuition for his son at the Realschule.
With all this in mind he bought a small farm in Leonding, a Linz suburb.

The family was rather large.
In later life Adolf has so overshadowed the others that they are, for the better part, forgotten. There was half-brother Alois, whom I never met.
He left home at an early age, got a job as a waiter in London and later opened his own restaurant in Berlin.
He was never friendly with his younger brother.

Paula Hitler

Then there was Paula, the oldest of the girls.
She later married Herr Rubal, an official in the tax bureau in Linz.


Later still, after her husband’s death and her brother’s rise to power, she went to Berchtesgaden to become house-keeper at Hitler’s Berghof.
Sister Klara for a while managed a restaurant for students at the University of Vienna; and sister Angela, youngest of the girls, married a Professor Hamitsch at Dresden, where she still lives.

Alois Hitler

The family had barely settled in their new home outside of Linz when Alois, the father, died suddenly from an apoplectic stroke.

Klara Hitler
At the time Frau Hitler was in her early forties.
She was a simple, modest, kindly women.
She was tall, had brownish hair which she kept neatly plaited, and a long, oval face with beautifully expressive gray-blue eyes.
She was desperately worried about the responsibilities thrust upon her by her husband’s death. Alois, twenty-three years her senior, had always managed the family.
Now the job was hers.
It was readily apparent that son Adolf was too young and altogether too fragile to become a farmer.
So her best move seemed to be to sell the place and rent a small apartment.
This she did, soon after her husband’s death.
With the proceeds of this sale and the small pension which came to her because of her husband’s government position, she managed to hold her family together.
In a small town in Austria poverty doesn’t force upon one the indignities that it does in a large city.
There are no slums and no serious overcrowding.
I do not know the exact income of the Hitler family, but being familiar with the scale of government pensions I should estimate it at $25 a month.
This small sum allowed them to live quietly and decently – unnoticed little people in an out-of-the-way town.
Their apartment consisted of three small rooms in the two-story house at No. 9 Blütenstrasse, which is across the Danube from the main portion of Linz.
Its windows gave an excellent view of the mountains.
My predominant impression of the simple furnished apartment was its cleanliness.
It glistened; not a speck of dust on the chairs or tables, not a stray fleck of mud on the scrubbed floor, not a smudge on the panes in the windows.
Frau Hitler was a superb housekeeper.
The Hitlers had only a few friends.
One stood out above the others; the widow of the postmaster who lived in the same house.
The limited budget allowed not even the smallest extravagance.
We had the usual provincial opera in Linz: not good, and not bad.
Those who would hear the best went to Vienna.

Schauspielhaus – Linz

Seats in the gallery of our theater, the Schauspielhaus, sold for the equivalent of 10 to 15 cents in American money.


Yet occupying one of these seats to hear an indifferent troupe sing ‘Lohengrin’ was such a memorable occasion that Hitler records it in ‘Mein Kampf’.

For the most part the boy’s recreations were limited to those things which were free: walks in the mountains, a swim in the Danube, a free band concert.
He read extensively, and was particularly fascinated by stories about American Indians.

Karl May

He devoured the books of James Fenimore Cooper, and the German writer Karl May – who never visited America and never saw an Indian.

The family diet was, of necessity, simple and rugged.
Food was cheap and plentiful in Linz; and the Hitler family ate much the same diet as other people in their circumstance.
Meat would be served perhaps twice a week.


Most of the meals they sat down to consisted of cabbage or potato soup, bread, dumplings and a pitcher of pear and apple cider.

For clothing, they wore the rough woolen cloth we call Loden.
Adolf, of course, dressed in the uniform of all small boys: leather shorts, embroidered suspenders, a small green hat with a feather in its band.
What kind of boy was Adolf Hitler ?
Many biographers have put him down as harsh-voiced, defiant, untidy; as a young ruffian who personified all that is unattractive.
This simply is not true.
As a youth he was quiet, well-mannered and neatly dressed.
He records that at the age of fifteen he regarded himself as a political revolutionary.
Possibly – but let us look at Adolf Hitler as he impressed people about him, not as he impressed himself.
He was tall, sallow, old for his age.
He was neither robust nor sickly.
Perhaps “frail looking” would best describe him.
His eyes – inherited from his mother – were large, melancholy and thoughtful.
To a very large extent this boy lived within himself.
What dreams he dreamed I do not know.
Outwardly, his love for his mother was his most striking feature.
While he was not a “mother’s boy” in the usual sense, I have never witnessed a closer attachment.
Some insist that this love verged on the pathological.
As a former intimate of the family, I do not believe this is true.
Klara Hitler adored her son, the youngest of the family.
She allowed him his own way wherever possible.
His father had insisted that he become an official.
He rebelled and won his mother to his side.
He soon tired of school, so his mother allowed him to drop his studies.
All friends of the family know how Frau Hitler encouraged his boyish efforts to become an artist; at what cost to herself one may guess.
Despite their poverty, she permitted him to reject a job which was offered in the post office, so that he could continue his painting.
She admired his water colors and his sketches of the countryside.
Whether this was honest admiration or whether it was merely an effort to encourage his talent I do not know.
She did her best to raise her boy well.
She saw that he was neat, clean and as well fed as her purse would permit.
Whenever he came to my consultation room this strange boy would sit among the other patients, awaiting his turn.
There was never anything seriously wrong.
Possibly his tonsils would be inflamed.
He would stand obedient and unflinching while I depressed his tongue and swabbed the trouble spots.
Or, possibly, he would be suffering with a cold.
I would treat him and send him on his way.
Like any well-bred boy of fourteen or fifteen he would bow and thank me courteously.
I, of course, know of the stomach trouble that beset him later in life, largely as a result of bad diet while working as a common laborer in Vienna.
I cannot understand the many references to his lung trouble as a youth.
I was the only doctor treating him during the period in which he is supposed to have suffered from this.
My records show nothing of the sort.
To be sure, he didn’t have the rosy cheeks and the robust good health of most of the other youngsters; but at the same time he was not sickly.
At the Realschule young Adolf’s work was anything but brilliant.
As authority for this, I have the word of his former teacher, Dr. Karl Huemer, an old acquaintance of mine.
I was Frau Huemer’s physician.
In ‘Mein Kampf’, Hitler records that he was an indifferent student in most subjects, but that he loved history.
This agrees with the recollections of Professor Huemer.
Desiring additional training in painting, Hitler decided he would go to Vienna to study at the Academy.
This was a momentous decision for a member of a poor family.
His mother worried about how he would get along.
I understand that she even suggested pinching the family budget a little tighter to enable her to send him a tiny allowance.
Credit to the boy, he refused.
He even went further: he signed his minute inheritance over to his sisters.
He was eighteen at the time.
I am not sure of the exact details of what happened on that trip to Vienna.
Some contend that he was not admitted to the Academy because of his unsatisfactory art work. Others accept Hitler’s statement that his rejection was due to his failure to graduate from the Realschule – the equivalent of an American high school.
In any case he was home again within a few weeks.
It was later in this year – 1908 [1907, according to some sources] – that it became my duty to give Hitler what was perhaps the saddest news of his life.
One day Frau Hitler came to visit me during my morning office hours.
She complained of a pain in her chest.
She spoke in a quiet, hushed voice; almost a whisper.
The pain, she said, had been great; enough to keep her awake nights on end.
She had been busy with her household so had neglected to seek medical aid.
Besides, she thought the pain would pass away.
When a physician hears such a story he almost automatically thinks of cancer.
An examination showed that Frau Hitler had an extensive tumor of the breast.
I did not tell her of my diagnosis.
Dr Eduard Bloch – Offoce

I summoned the children to my office next day and stated the case frankly.
Their mother, I told them, was a gravely ill woman.
A malignant tumor is serious enough today, but it was even more serious then.
Surgical techniques were not so advanced and knowledge of cancer not so extensive.

Without surgery, I explained, there was absolutely no hope of recovery.
Even with surgery there was but the slightest chance that she would live.
In family council they must decide what was to be done.
Adolf Hitler’s reaction to this news was touching.
His long, sallow face was contorted.
Tears flowed from his eyes.
Did his mother, he asked, have no chance ?
Only then did I realize the magnitude of the attachment that existed between mother and son.
I explained that she did have a chance; but a small one.
Even this shred of hope gave him some comfort.
The children carried my message to their mother. She accepted the verdict as I was sure she would – with fortitude.
Deeply religious, she assumed that her fate was God’s will.
It would never have occurred to her to complain.
She would submit to the operation as soon as I could make preparations.
I explained the case to Dr. Karl Urban, the chief of the surgical staff at the Hospital of the Sisters of Mercy in Linz.
Urban was one of the best-known surgeons in Upper Austria.
He was a generous man, a credit to his profession.
He willingly agreed to undertake the operation on any basis I suggested.
After examination he concurred in my belief that Frau Hitler had very little chance of surviving but that surgery offered the only hope.
It is interesting to note what happened to this generous man nearly three decades later – after Anschluss [union] with Germany.
Because of his political connections he was forced to abandon his position at the hospital.
His son, who pioneered in brain surgery, was likewise forced from several offices.
Frau Hitler arrived at the hospital one evening in the early summer of 1908 [1907?].
I do not have the exact date.
In any case, Frau Hitler spent the night in the hospital and was operated on the following morning.
At the request of this gentle, harried soul I remained beside the operating table while Dr. Urban and his assistant performed the surgery.
Two hours later I drove in my carriage across the Danube to the little house at No. 9 Blütenstrasse, in the section of the city known as Urfahr.
There the children awaited me.
The girls received the word I brought with calm and reserve.
The face of the boy was streaked with tears, and his eyes were tired and red.
He listened until I had finished speaking. He has but one question. In a choked voice he asked: “Does my mother suffer ?”
As weeks and months passed after the operation Frau Hitler’s strength began visibly to fail.
At most she could be out of bed for an hour or two a day.
During this period Adolf spent most of his time around the house, to which his mother had returned.
He slept in the tiny bedroom adjoining that of his mother so that he could be summoned at any time during the night.
During the day he hovered about the large bed in which she lay.
In illness such as that suffered by Frau Hitler, there is usually a great amount of pain.
She bore her burden well; unflinching and uncomplaining.
But it seemed to torture her son.
An anguished grimace would come over him when he saw pain contract her face.
There was little that could be done.
An injection of morphine from time to time would give temporary relief; but nothing lasting.
Yet Adolf seemed enormously grateful even for these short periods of release.
I shall never forget Klara Hitler during those days.
She was forty-eight at the time; tall, slender and rather handsome, yet wasted by disease.
She was soft-spoken, patient; more concerned about what would happen to her family than she was about her approaching death.
She made no secret of these worries; or about the fact that most of her thoughts were for her son. “Adolf is still so young,” she said repeatedly.
On the day of December 20, 1908 [or 1907], I made two calls.
The end was approaching and I wanted this good woman to be as comfortable as I could make her.
I didn’t know whether she would live another week, or another month; or whether death would come in a matter of hours.
So, the word that Angela Hitler brought me the following morning came as no surprise.
Her mother had died quietly in the night.
The children had decided not to disturb me, knowing that their mother was beyond all medical aid.
But, she asked, could I come now ?
Someone in an official position would have to sign the death certificate.
I put on my coat and drove with her to the grief-stricken cottage.
The postmaster’s widow, their closest friend, was with the children, having more or less taken charge of things.
Adolf, his face showing the weariness of a sleepless night, sat beside his mother.
In order to preserve a last impression, he had sketched her as she lay on her deathbed.
I sat with the family for a while, trying to ease their grief.
I explained that in this case death had been a savior.
They understood.
In the practice of my profession it is natural that I should have witnessed many scenes such as this one, yet none of them left me with quite the same impression.
In all my career I have never seen anyone so prostrate with grief as Adolf Hltler.
I did not attend Klara Hitler’s funeral, which was held on Christmas Eve.
The body was taken from Urfahr to Leonding, only a few miles distant.
Klara Hitler was buried beside her husband in the Catholic cemetery, behind the small, yellow stucco church.
After the others – the girls, and the postmaster’s widow – had left, Adolf remained behind; unable to tear himself away from the freshly filled grave.
And so this gaunt, pale young man stood alone in the cold.
Alone with his thoughts on Christmas Eve while the rest of the world was gay and happy.
A few days after the funeral the family came to my office.
They wished to thank me for the help I had given them.
There was Paula, fair and stocky; Angela, slender, pretty but rather anemic; Klara and Adolf. The girls spoke what was in their hearts while Adolf remained silent.
I recall this particular scene as vividly as I might recall something that took place last week.
Adolf wore a dark suit and a loosely knotted cravat.
Then as now a shock of hair tumbled over his forehead.
His eyes were on the floor while his sisters were talking.
Then came his turn.
He stepped forward and took my hand.
Looking into my eyes, he said: “I shall be grateful to you forever.
That was all.
Then he bowed.
I wonder if he recalled this scene.
I am quite sure that he did, for in a sparing sense Adolf Hitler had kept to his promise of gratitude.
Favors were granted me which I feel sure were accorded no other Jew in all Germany or Austria.
Almost immediately after his mother’s funeral Hitler left for Vienna, to attempt once more a career as an artist.
His growth to manhood had been a painful experience for this boy who lived within himself.
But ever more trying days were coming.
Poor as the family was, he had at least been assured food and shelter while living at home. This couldn’t be said of the days in Vienna.
Hitler was entirely engrossed with the business of keeping body and soul together.
We all know something of his life there – how he worked as a hod carrier on building-construction jobs until workmen threatened to push him off a scaffold.
And we know that he shoveled snow and took any other job he could find.
During this period, for three years in fact, Hitler lived in a man’s hostel, the equivalent of a flophouse in any large American city.
It was here that he began to dream of a world remade to his pattern.
While living in the hostel, surrounded by the human dregs of the large city, Hitler says, “I became dissatisfied with myself for the first time in my life.”
This dissatisfaction with himself was followed by dissatisfaction with everything about him – and the desire to alter things to his own liking.
The vitriol of hate began to creep through his body.
The grim realities of the life he lived encouraged him to hate the government, labor unions, the very men he lived with.
But he had not yet begun to hate the Jews.
During this period he took time out to send me a penny postcard.
On the back was. a message: “From Vienna I send you my greetings. Yours, always faithfully, Adolf Hitler.”
It was a small thing, yet I appreciated it.
I had spent a great deal of time treating the Hitler family and it was nice to know that this effort on my part had not been forgotten.
Official  publications also record that I received one of Hitler’s paintings – a small landscape.
If I did I am not aware of it.
But it is quite possible that he sent me one and that I have forgotten the matter.
In Austria patients frequently send paintings or other gifts to their physicians as a mark of gratitude.
Even now I have half a dozen of these oils and water colors which I have saved; but none painted by Hitler among them.
I did, however, preserve one piece of Hitler’s art work.
This came during the period in Vienna when he was painting post cards, posters, etc., making enough money to support himself.
This was the one time in his life that Hitler was able to make successful use of his talent.
He would paint these cards and dry them in front of a hot fire, which would give them a rather pleasing antique quality.
Then other inmates of the hostel would peddle them.
Today in Germany the few remaining samples of this work are more highly prized and sought after than the works of Picasso, Gauguin and Cézanne!
Hitler sent me one of these cards.
It showed a hooded Capuchin monk hoisting a glass of bubbling champagne.
Under the picture was a caption: “Prosit Neujahr – A toast to the New Year.”
On the reverse side he had written a message: “The Hitler family sends you the best wishes for a Happy New Year. In everlasting thankfulness, Adolf Hitler.”
Why I put these cards aside to be saved, I do not know.
Possibly it was because of the impression made upon me by that unhappy boy.
Even today I cannot help thinking of him in terms of his grief.
Those postal cards had a curious history.
They indicated the extent to which Hitler has captured the imagination of some people.
A rich Viennese industrialist – I do not know his name because he dealt through an intermediary – later made me an astonishing offer.
He wanted to buy those two cards and was willing to pay 20,000 marks for them !
I rejected the offer on the ground that I could not ethically make such a sale.
There is still another story in those two cards.
Seventeen days after the collapse of the Schuschnigg government and the occupation of Austria by German troops, an agent of the Gestapo called at my home.
At the time I was making a professional call, but my wife received him.
I am informed,” he said, “that you have some souvenirs of the Führer. I should like to see them.
Acting sensibly, my wife made no protest.
She found the two cards and handed them over.
The agent scribbled a receipt which read: “Certificate for the safekeeping of two post cards (one of them painted by the hand of Adolf Hitler) confiscated in the house of Dr. Eduard Bloch.”
It was signed by the agent, named Groemer, who was previously unknown to us.
He said I was to come to headquarters the following morning.
Almost as soon as the Germans entered the city, the Gestapo took over the small hotel in Gesellenhausstrasse formally patronized by traveling clergymen.
I went to this place and was received almost immediately.
I was greeted courteously by Dr. Rasch, head of the local bureau.
I asked him why these bits of property had been taken.
Those were busy days for the Gestapo.
There were many things to be looked after in a town of 120,000 people.
It developed that Dr. Rasch was not familiar with my case.
He asked if I were under suspicion for any political activity unfavorable to the NSDAP.
I replied that I was not; that I was a professional man with no political connections.
The cards, he said, would be retained for safekeeping.
So far as I know the cards are still in the hands of the Gestapo.
I never saw them again.
When he left for Vienna, Adolf Hitler was destined to disappear from our lives for a great many years.
He had no friends in Linz to whom he might return to visit and few with whom he might exchange correspondence.
So, it was much later that we learned of his wretched poverty on those days, and of his subsequent moving to Munich in May 1913.
No news came back of the way in which he fell on his knees and thanked God when war was declared in 1914; and no news of his war service as a corporal with the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry.
We heard nothing of his being wounded and gassed.
Not until the beginning of his political career in 1920 were we again to get news of this quiet, polite boy who grew up among us.
Occasionally the local newspapers would run items about the group of political supporters that Hitler was gathering about himself in Munich; stories of the Versailles Peace.
But no particular importance was attached to these activities.
Not until twenty people died in the beer-hall putsch of November 8, 1923, did Hitler achieve local notoriety.
Was it possible, I asked myself, that the man behind these things was the quiet boy I had known – the son of the gentle Klara Hitler ?
Eventually even the mention of Hitler’s name in the Austrian press was prohibited; still we continued to get word-of-mouth news of our former townsman.
This smuggled news reached responsive ears.
A local NSDAP party sprang up.
In theory such a party could not exist; it had been outlawed by the government.
In practice authorities gave it their blessings.
From time to time local authorities would find a NSDAP flag on Klara Hitler’s grave in Leonding, and would remove it without ceremony.
Still, the gathering storm in Germany seemed remote.
It was quite a while before I got any firsthand word from Adolf Hitler.
Then, in 1937, a number of local National Socialists attended the party conference at Nuremberg.
After the conference Hitler invited several of these people to come with him to his mountain villa at Berchtesgaden.
The Führer asked for news of Linz.
How was the townn?
Were people there supporting him ?
He asked for news of me.
Was I still alive, still practicing ?
Then he made a statement. “Dr. Bloch,” said Hitler, “is an Edeljude – a noble Jew. If all Jews were like him, there would be no Jewish question.
It was strange, and in a way flattering, that Adolf Hitler could see good in at least one member of my race.
It is curious now to look back on the feeling of security that we had by virtue of living on the right side of an imaginary line, the international boundary.
Surely Germany would not chance invading Austria.
France was friendly.
Occupation of Austria would be inimical to the interests of Italy.
But we were blind, in those days !
Then we were caught up in a breathless rush of events.
It was with hope that we read of the Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg’s trip to Berchtesgaden; his plebiscite; his inclusion of Seyss-Inquart in his cabinet.
Possibly we would ride through this crisis untouched.
But hope was doomed within a very few hours.
As soon as Seyss-Inquart was taken into the cabinet, buttons sprouted in every lapel: “One People, One Realm, One Leader.
On Friday, March 11, 1938, the Vienna radio was broadcasting a program of light music.
It was 7:45 at night.
Suddenly the announcer broke in.
The chancellor would speak.
Schuschnigg came on the air and said that to prevent bloodshed he was capitulating to the wishes of Hitler.
The frontiers would be opened, he ended his address with the words: “Gott schütze Österreich” – may God protect Austria.
Hitler was coming home to Linz.
In the sleepless days that followed we clung to our radios.
Troops were pouring over the border at Passau, Kufstein, Mittenwalde and elsewhere.
Hitler himself was crossing the Inn River at Braunau, his birthplace.
Breathlessly, the announcer told us the story of the march.
The Führer himself would pause in Linz.
The town went mad with joy.
The reader should have no doubts about the popularity of Anschluss with Germany. The people favored it.
They greeted the onrushing tide of German troops with flowers, cheers and songs.
Church bells rang.
Austrian troops and police fraternized with the invaders and there was general rejoicing.
The public square in Linz, a block from my home, was a turmoil.
All afternoon it rang with the ‘Horst Wessel Song’ and ‘Deutschland über Alles’.
Planes droned overhead, and advance units of the German army were given deafening cheers. Finally the radio announced that Hitler was in Linz.
Advance instructions had been given to the townspeople.
All windows along the procession route were to be closed.
Each should be lighted.
I stood at the window of my home facing Landstrasse.
Hitler would pass before me.
Soon the procession arrived – the great, black Mercedes car, a six-wheeled affair, flanked by motorcycles.
The frail boy I had treated so often, and whom I had not seen for thirty years – stood in the car.
I had accorded him only kindness; what was he now to do to the people I loved ?
I peered over the heads of the crowd at Adolf Hitler.
It was a moment of tense excitement.
For years Hitler had been denied the right to visit the country of his birth.
Now that country belonged to him.
The elation that he felt was written on his features.
He smiled, waved, gave the National Socialist salute to the people that crowded the street. Then, for a moment he glanced up at my window.
I doubt that he saw me, but he must have had a moment of reflection.
Here was the home of the Edeljude who had diagnosed his mother’s fatal cancer; here was the consultation room of the man who had treated his sisters; here was the place he had gone as a boy to have his minor ailments attended.
It was a brief moment.
Then the procession was gone.
It moved slowly into the town square – once ‘Franz Josef Platz’, soon to be renamed ‘Adolf Hitler Platz’.
He spoke from the balcony of the town hall.
I listened on the radio.
Historic words: Germany and Austria were now one.
Hitler established himself in the Weinzinger Hotel, particularly requesting an apartment with a view of the Poestling Mountain.
This scene had been visible from the windows of the modest apartment where he spent his boyhood.
The following day he called in a few old acquaintances: Oberhummer, a local party functionary; Kubizek, the musician; Liedel, the watchmaker; Dr. Huemer, his former history teacher.
It was understandable that he couldn’t ask me, a Jew, to such a meeting; yet he did inquire after me.
For a while I thought of asking for an audience, then decided this would be unwise.
Hitler arrived Saturday evening.
Sunday he visited his mother’s grave, and reviewed local National Socialists as they marched before him.
On Monday Hitler departed for Vienna.
The first suggestion that I was to receive special favors came one day when my landlord, an Aryan, went to Gestapo headquarters to ask if I were to be allowed to remain in my apartment. “We wouldn’t dare touch that matter,” he was told. “It will be handled by Berlin.”
Hitler, apparently, had remembered. 
My practice, which I believe was one of the largest in Linz, had begun to dwindle as long as a year before the arrival of Hitler. In this I might have seen a portent of things to come.
By decree, my active practice was limited to Jewish patients.
This was another way of saying that I was to cease work altogether.
For plans were in the making for ridding the town of all Jews.
On November 10, 1938, the ruling was issued that all Jews were to leave Linz within forty-eight hours.
They were to go to Vienna.
I called at the Gestapo. Was I to leave?
I was informed that an exception had been made in my case. I could remain.
My daughter and her husband ?
Since they had already signified their intention of emigrating to America, they also could stay. But they would have to vacate their house.
If there was room in my apartment they would be permitted to move there.
If my relations with the Gestapo were not precisely cordial, I at least didn’t suffer at their hands as did so many others.
I was told on good authority, and I can well believe it, that the bureau in Linz had received special instructions from the chancellery in Berlin that I was to be accorded any reasonable favor.
It is possible, but unlikely, that my war record was particularly responsible for these small considerations.
During the war I had charge of a 1,000 bed military hospital, and my wife supervised welfare work among the sick.
I was twice decorated for this service.
Hitler still regards Linz as his true home, and the changes he has wrought are astonishing.
The once quiet, sleepy town had been transformed.
Whole blocks of old houses have been pulled down to make way for modern apartment houses; thereby causing an acute but temporary housing shortage.
A new theater has gone up and a new bridge has been built over the Danube.
The bridge, according to local legend, was designed by Hitler himself and plans were already completed at the time of Anschluss.
The vast Hermann Goering Iron Works, built in the past two years, is just starting operations.
To carry on this program of reconstruction whole trainloads of laborers have been imported: Czechs, Poles, Belgians.
Hitler has visited the city twice since the Anschluss, once at the time of the election which was to approve union with Germany; a second time secretly to see how reconstruction of the town was progressing.
Each time had has stayed at the Weinzinger Hotel.
On the second visit the proprietor of the hotel was informed that Hitler’s presence in town was not to be announced; that he would make his inspection tour in the morning.
Delighted at having such an important personage in his house, the proprietor could not resist boasting.
He telephoned several friends to give them the news.
For this breach of discipline he paid heavily.
His hotel was confiscated.
Many times I have been approached by Hitler biographers for notes on his youth.
In most instances I have refused to speak. But I did talk to one of these men.
He was a pleasant middle-aged gentleman from Vienna, who came from the government department headed by Rudolf Hess.
He was writing an official biography.
I gave him such details as I could recall, and my medical records which he subsequently sent to the Party headquarters in Munich.
When it finally became my turn to leave Linz for America I knew that it would be impossible for me to take my savings with me.
But the Gestapo had one more favor for me. I was to be allowed to take sixteen marks from the country instead of the customary ten!
A party official suggested that I was expected to show some gratitude for all these favors. Perhaps a letter to the Führer ?
Before I left Linz on a cold, foggy November morning, I wrote it.
I wonder if it was ever received. It read:

‘Your Excellency:

Before passing the border I want to express my thanks for the protection which I have received. In material poverty I am now leaving the town where I have lived for forty-one years; but I leave conscious of having lived in the most exact fulfillment of my duty. At sixty-nine I will start my life anew in a strange country where my daughter is working hard to support her family.’