“How were the Nuremberg Rallies used by the Nazis to spread their propaganda?”

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Dictatorship & Democracy 1920 – 1945
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Mock Exam 2008

Q.4. “How were the Nuremberg Rallies used by the Nazis to spread their propaganda?”




The Nuremberg Rallies were used by the Nazis as both a party political platform to spread the ideology of National Socialism and undermine democratic institutions of the Weimar Republic from 1927 to 1932 and a platform for the Nazification of Germany as a whole between 1933 & 1939. Underlining the change from a party political movement to an annual state indoctrination was the title of ‘Fuhrer’ taken by Hitler from 1934 on. From this point on, indoctrination and Nazification of the whole German state was the single purpose of these rallies. The slogan of “Deutschland, Deutschland, uber alles” became synonymous with Nuremberg and the pageantry of the Nazi movement. The chief architects of these annual rallies; Joseph Goebbels as Minister for Propaganda & Popular Enlightenment & Albert Speer as the logistical chief, served to create evermore grandiose and celebratory events, adopting an annual theme to mirror that year’s objectives and/or achievements. Leni Riefenstahl as cinematographer would play a central role in immortalising both Hitler & the Nazi Party on film, which was then distributed throughout Germany and beyond.

P. 1 Between 1927 and 1932, the Nuremberg Rallies were used as an annual rallying-point of Nazis and a platform for dissemination of Nazi Party policy and ideology. The ‘Kampfzeit’ i.e. the struggle to gain power in Germany, focused on national politics. Racial ideology, later emphasised in anti-semitic and anti-slavic propaganda, was not prominent throughout these early years of the rallies, though some strong hints to future policy were included. The Nazi Party was attempting to build support throughout all classes of Germans and were conscious of the need to appeal to all. Their primary target in this time period was the Weimar Republic itself. With Hitler constantly denouncing the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, he managed to link the shame and chaos of Weimar Germany’s defeat in World War One with the Weimar Republic, even before the Wall Street Crash. The Nazi Party used the Nuremberg Rallies to criticise the weaknesses of democracy and, from 1929 on, to denounce the instability of the bankrupt state. Held in the medieval city of Nuremberg, many Germans still resented the harshness of the Treaty of Versailles and, in particular, the ‘War Guilt Clause’. Hitler capitalised on this, reminding Germans of the shame and alledged betrayal of the German people by the ‘November Criminals’ of 1918. The Nazis also used the rallies to target German Communists during this period, warning Germans of the designs that the USSR had on enslaving the German nation. These were particulary effective in rousing support from the middle-class and industrialists.
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Having achieved power in 1933, the ‘Rally of Victory’ used the annual Nuremberg event to celebrate the Nazi Party’s rise to power. The victory that they had achieved through the passage of the Enabling Act of 1933 was portrayed as historic and Hitler’s cult of personality was specifically developed each year from this point on. The rally of 1934, later called the ‘Rally of Unity & Strength’, was used to centralise the the power of the Nazi Party within the leadeship, following the purge of Ernst Rohm and his senior aides in the SA, combining the remaining Brownshirts into the German Army. This was the rally where Leni Fiefenstahl made the most synonymous of all Nazi documentaries: ‘Triumph des Willens’. In 1935, the ‘Rally of Freedom’, was specifically used to celebrate re-armament in Germany and therefore ‘freedom’ from the hated Treaty of Versailles. Similarly, in 1936, the ‘Rally of Honour’ celebrated the re-militarisation of the Rhineland.

P. 3 The Nazis used the Nuremberg Rallies each year to underline and celebrate their successes and to declare future intentions and policies. Albert Speer’s ‘Cathedral of Light’ at the 1937 ‘Rally of Labour’ empahsised the economic and employment achievements of the Nazi State, complete with 152 searchlights forming awe-inspiring lightshows in the dark. The last rally before the war, the 1938 ‘Rally of Greater Germany’ celebrated the Anschluss with Austria and annexation of the German-speaking Sudetenland. Throughout these years, the Nuremberg Rallies were both pageant and policy, underlining their use in indoctrination, celebration and Nazification of the German people.

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The Nuremberg Rallies were also used to further one very specific goal; the idolatry of and obedience to the Fuhrer himself. While developing Hitler’s cult of personality, the organisation of German Nazi groups such as the SS, Hitler Youth and the German Labour Front at the rallies in large, uniformed, symmetrical columns further enhanced the obedience to and adulation of Hitler hinself, who spoke passionately and at length from his raised platform on issues ranging from Communism to Jews to the remaining elements of the Treaty of Versailles. In doing so, not just the armed forces, but all Nazi groups including workers and children were systematically indoctrinated into Nazi ideology. The personal allegiances sworn to Hitler, most famously by the SS, were radically successful in the euphoric atmosphere of these grandiose events. To underline the use and effect of the rallies in this context, the ‘Party Roll of Honour’ was read out at the beginning of each rally, linking obedience to self-sacrifice for the State and Hitler as a central theme. Extreme discipline and large-scale choreography demonstrated the organisational power of the Nazis, thereby converting many moderates to the seemingly-unstoppable movement of Hitler & the Nazis.


In conclusion, the curiously-titled ‘Rally of Peace’ in 1939, cancelled due to the outbreak of war, underlined both the arrogance and real subversive intentions of the Nuremberg rallies in general. The process of indoctrination, carried out over six years of Nazi Totalitarianism, was a preparation ground, politically and militarily for the conflicts ahead. Hitler’s foreign policy, which grew ever more aggressive during the 1930’s, required an annual event of consolidation and re-enforcement, such was the pace of re-armament, economic and social militarism under Hitler’s leadership. The sheer size, organisation and choreography of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, children and workers combined to militarise the entire population, rather than just the armed forces themselves. With Hitler’s future intentions of an aggressive, ambitious world war on two fronts, this process of radicalising and miltarising the entire population would be entirely necessary to create the large-scale manpower to annex most of mainland Europe. The extreme nationalistic and racial rhetoric of the rallies was effective in making Hitler the voice of Germany, aided greatly by the propaganda skills of Goebbels, the organisational capacity of Speer and the artistic nous of Riefenstahl to combine and create the ultimate sensorial hynosis. The ultimate fate, and deliberate irony would lay in the location of the War Crimes Trials in the same city after the war, underpinning the Allies’ desire to completely destroy the ideological power of the Nazi spiritual centre and its attraction for future generations.
Sample Questions - Nuremberg Rallies


What were the main features of Nazi propaganda in Germany after 1933?”**

What were the aims & objectives of the Nuremberg Rallies in Nazi Germany?”

How did the Nazis use propaganda to establish and maintain their control over the people of Germany?”**
Describe how the Nuremberg Rallies promoted Nazi ideology in Germany, 1927 – 1933”
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