Germany // Northern Bavaria: Franconia //

Leni Riefenstahl and the Reichsparteitage


After the Machtergreifung (Nazi seizure of power) in 1933, the Reichsparteitage or party rallies became an annual ritual, attracting massive numbers of participants and hangers-on. A vast, self-glorifying Parteitagsgelände (party rally ground) was therefore planned, and though much of it – including the colossal Deutsches Stadion, which would have accommodated 400,000 spectators – was never built, what survives gives a powerful impression of the gigantism that was designed, in part, to shrink the role of the individual into insignificance and to create an overwhelming experience for the participants that appealed to the emotions, not to reason. The rallies had a wider audience too, for during the 1930s many foreign newspapers sent reporters to cover the event. Leni Riefenstahl (the regime’s favoured documentary-maker) used a crew of 170 and some ground-breaking camera techniques to record the 1934 rally for her film The Triumph of the Will; the crowning event of the 1935 rally was the special session of the Reichstag convened in Nuremberg to pass the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws.

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