The Nuremberg Rally (officially, Reichsparteitag, meaning national party convention) was the annual rally of the (Nazi Party) in the years 1923 to 1938 in . Especially after in 1933, they were large propaganda events by the state. The Reichsparteitage were held annually at the in from 1933 to 1938 and are thus usually referred to in English as the Nuremberg Rallies.
History and purpose
The first rallies by the NSDAP took place in 1923 in and 1926 in . From 1927 on, they ran exclusively in . Nuremberg was selected for pragmatic reasons: It was situated in the center of the and the local Luitpoldhain was well suited as a venue. In addition, the NSDAP was able to rely on the well organized local strand of the party in , then led by . The Nuremberg police were sympathetic to the event. Later, the location was justified by putting it into the tradition of the Reichstag in the . After 1933, the rallies were held in the first half of September under the label of Reichsparteitage des deutschen Volkes ("National Congress of the Party of the German People"), which was meant to symbolize the solidarity between the German people and the Nazi Party. This point was further emphasized by the yearly growing number of participants, which finally reached over half a million from all sections of the party, the army and the state.
The Nuremberg Rallies
Each rally was given a programmatic title, which related to recent national events:
- 1923 - First Party Congress; Munich ,
- 1923 - "German day rally", Nuremberg ,
- 1926 - 2nd Party Congress; Refounding Congress, Weimar ,
- 1927 - 3rd Party Congress; Day of Awakening, Nuremberg , ; the propaganda film Eine Symphonie des Kampfwillens was made at this rally.
- 1929 - 4th Party Congress; Day of Composure, Nuremberg , ; the propaganda film Der Nürnberger Parteitag der NSDAP was made at this rally.
- 1933 - 5th Party Congress; The title "Rally of Victory" (Reichsparteitag des Sieges) relates to the seizing of power and the victory over the . The film Der Sieg des Glaubens was made at this rally.
- 1934 - 6th Party Congress; This rally initially did not have a theme. Later it was labeled "Rally of Unity and Strength" (Reichsparteitag der Einheit und Stärke), "Rally of Power" (Reichsparteitag der Macht) or "Rally of Will" (Reichsparteitag des Willens). The Leni Riefenstahl film Triumph des Willens was made at this rally.
- 1935 - 7th Party Congress; "Rally of Freedom" (Reichsparteitag der Freiheit). 'Freedom' refers to the reintroduced compulsory military service and thus the 'liberation' from the . The Leni Riefenstahl film Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht was made at this rally.
- 1936 - 8th Party Congress; "Rally of Honour" (Reichsparteitag der Ehre): The invasion of the demilitarized , in the eyes of the NSDAP leadership, constituted the restoration of German honour. The film Festliches Nürnberg incorporated footage made at this rally, as well as the rally of 1937.
- 1937 - 9th Party Congress; In the "Rally of Labour" (Reichsparteitag der Arbeit) what was referred to was the reduction of unemployment since the rise to power. This rally was particularly notable due to 's "Cathedral of Light", 152 searchlights that cast vertical beams into the sky around the to symbolise the walls of a building
and the attendance of , a brother of , who had a personal meeting with to boost relations between Japan and Germany. Festliches Nürnberg incorporated footage made at this rally.
- 1938 - 10th Party Congress; Because of the of to the German Reich, this event was called "Rally of Greater Germany" (Reichsparteitag Großdeutschland).
- 1939 - 11th Party Congress; The name "Rally of Peace" (Reichsparteitag des Friedens) was to reiterate the German will to peace, to the population and other countries. It was cancelled on short notice, as one day before the planned date on , Germany began its offensive against Poland (which ignited ).
The primary aspect of the Nuremberg Rallies was to strengthen the of , portraying Hitler as Germany's saviour, chosen by . The gathered masses listened to the Führer's speeches, swore loyalty and marched before him. Representing the as a whole, the rallies served to demonstrate the might of the German people. The visitors of the rallies by their own free will were subordinate to the discipline and order in which they should be reborn as a new people.
An additional important component of the Nuremberg rallies were the numerous deployments and parades of the affiliated organisations of the Third Reich (, , , , etc.). Nuremberg was also the tribune from which important cornerstones of Nazi policy were proclaimed. The which stripped of citizenship and other rights were proclaimed at the 1935 rally as measures to "protect German blood".
The demonstration of power was not limited to the rally grounds; the formations also marched through the center of old Nuremberg, where they were reviewed by Hitler and enthusiastic crowds. In the city's old market place (Marktplatz, renamed Adolf-Hitler-Platz in 1933), wooden tribunes were erected. The rows of people walking through the flag-decorated historic town symbolized the continuity between the Reichstag in the and the Third Reich.
Beginning in 1935, the annual rally also included a performance of 's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg on the first evening of the rally. Hitler was a great admirer of and, for many Nazis, Wagner's depicted mythical scenes that conformed with the Nazis' heroic-German Weltanschauung (world view).
Official films for the rallies began in 1927, with the establishment of the NSDAP film office. However the most famous films were the ones made by for the rallies between 1933 and 1935. Relating to the theme of the rally, she called her first movie "Victory of Faith" (Der Sieg des Glaubens). However this movie was taken out of circulation after the . The rally of 1934 became the setting for the film Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens), which later became one of the most famous pieces of propaganda of all time. However, several generals in the Wehrmacht protested over the minimal army presence in the film. Hitler apparently proposed modifying the film to placate the generals, but Riefenstahl refused his suggestion. She did agree to return to the 1935 rally and make a film exclusively about the Wehrmacht, which became Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht.
The rallies for 1936 and 1937 were covered in Festliches Nürnberg, which was shorter than the others, only 21 minutes.
There were two sets of official or semi-official books covering the rallies. The "red books" were officially published by the NSDAP and contained the proceedings of the "congress" as well as full texts of every speech given in chronological order.
The "blue books" were not published by the party press, but rather initially by , the of , later by . These were larger scale books that included the text of speeches and proceedings, but also larger photographs.
In addition to these, collections of Heinrich Hoffman's photographs were published to commemorate each Party congress, as well as pamphets of Hitler's speeches. Both series of books are much sought after collectors items.