Nazi Propaganda Film: "Triumph des Willens"

Discussion in 'The Third Reich' started by BCATP B&GS No7, Sep 17, 2013.

  1. I am new to this forum and thought I'd try an inaugural post.

    I am conducting research on the political and strategic background of WW2. One subject I find particularly surprising and disturbing centres around the massive series of misjudgements made by British leaders in the period 1932 through 1938. Chamberlain's meetings with Hitler in 1938 were simply the culmination of a scandalous series of misjudgements.

    It is for good reason that Chamberlain is frequently ranked as one of the worst British PMs in history. The events are well documented in books covering what came to be known as Churchill's 'Wilderness Years'.

    In any event, I thought many members of this forum have likely viewed some of the historically-relevant Nazi propaganda that can be found on the Internet. However, I haven't seen any topic related to the films of the controversial GermaN film-maker Leni Riefenstahl, who produced films on the Nazi movement, notably on the 1934 Nuremberg rally.

    It is not easy to watch a one hour and forty minute film that portrays Hitler as some form of demigod. However, the film provides a useful insight regarding the propaganda methods the Nazi leaders used in the years prior to wartime. The 1934 rally came at a critical time because Hitler had just become chancellor the previous year. In addition, Hitler, Goring, Himmler and others had taken direct control of the stormtroopers and all secret police activities following the 'Night of the Long Knives' and the murder of Ernst Rohm, the SA leader, and other political rivals in late June 1934.

    The 1934 Nuremberg Rally (sixth congress of the NASP) took place 5-10 September. At this point, Hitler and his co-conspirators were in a position to extend their control every aspect of German life, with little risk of political or military interference.

    The film can be found here:

    An academic article discussing the production of the film appears here:

    A discussion of the film-maker can be found here:
  2. Sussex by the Sea

    Sussex by the Sea Senior Member

    Like it or not that is a really good production.

  3. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    It is. The only thing the Nazis were really good at.
  4. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  5. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    Thanks for reminding me/us of the vitriolic garbage that these bastards (there is really no other word for them) turned out in the 30's and the 40's.

    Anytime I feel I need reminding of what we were fighting in ww2, I pay a trip to YOUTUBE and play-over one of their propaganda films such as the one I link below.

    DER EWIGE JUDE [1940] The Eternal Jew (GER.ENG ... - YouTube

  6. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Yes Ron, they are indeed in the main vile and for my own part have little interest in them - others do and research them. Not a history buff myself but have to respect many are.
  7. arnhem44

    arnhem44 Member

    So what is your question ?

  8. arnhem44

    arnhem44 Member

    Perhaps a note of nuance in your post: It is Leni Riefenstahl herself that made this for the time exceptional and outstanding filming and editing. Not "the" Nazis.

    Meaning, the "art" of propaganda is not something invented or developed by SA schools or Hitler or even Goebbels. They merely accepted and used that what was presented to them by chance through exceptional gifted talents like Leni.
    Do not forget that German filming in the 30's was bigger than hollywood (in terms of productions and budget spent on films). So there were more talents than Leni.
    But she , being a woman, stole the limelight.
    After that , of course, Goebbels developed propaganda as you learned it.

    The same thing with Wernher von Braun: had he decided not to give his fruits of talent to the Nazi warindustry , then there would not have been a V2 rocket.
    It wasn't "the Nazis" that came up with "we want a terrible weapon: we want a missile, preferably one with a nuclear people of germany MAKE us one..".
    The likes of Hess, Hitler, Himmler, etc. would have No Clue about such possibilities.
    It all came from nazi adoration/adulation with these talented individuals.
  9. Arnhem44,

    Thanks for your note of 'nuance' but I believe my original post makes clear that the film was produced by "controversial German film-maker Leni Riefenstahl".

    There appears to be a nuance or two of which you may have been missed by certain readers. First, the film was produced on the direct orders of Hitler; that point is even noted explicitly in the film credits. Second, the film was produced with a crew of over 125 people, who shot more than sixty hours of film -- that project scale would obviously exceed the resources of a modestly successful actress, aged 31, who had perhaps one significant film production to her credit.

    Finally, common sense would suggest that a film crew (even four or five, much less 125) would never have been permitted anywhere near this major event in Nuremberg unless the project had been explicitly endorsed by the Nazi leadership. Most observers understand that Goebbels had control of a massive propaganda programme in Germany after 1933. In this particular case, it appears Goebbels did not support Riefenstahl's appointment. However, he was overruled by Hitler. A connection between the film project and Nazi objectives couldn't be more clear.

    With respect to von Braun, I believe you are also incorrect. Neither von Braun nor any other group of scientists could even dream of mounting a programme to develop pilotless aircraft (V1) or rockets (V2) without a strong commitment from the German government, which happened to be a Nazi dictatorship. No doubt von Braun was a talented fellow with groundbreaking ideas, but Germany financed the V2 programme in a massive way, including the supply of slave labour from a specially designated concentration camp (ordered by Hitler in 1943). These "uncomfortable" facts were to a large extent hidden in the postwar period when von Braun was brought to America for its space programme. He had joined the Nazi party in 1937, five years before the first flight of the V2. (He apparently joined the SS in 1940, allegedly as a means of facilitating work on the rocket programme; the SS ran the concentration camp that provided slave labour for the V2 operations in Peenemünde.)

    Apart from that, I am sure you understand that little of consequence occurred in Germany in this period unless the Nazis were supportive. Even Herbert von Karajan found it "convenient" to join the Nazi party in 1933 (or 1935; there is some dispute). It does not take a genius to figure out that no one, however talented, would be standing on the podium of the Berlin Philharmonic in the period 1934-45 unless key individuals in the Nazi hierarchy had deemed him a "worthy" fellow. Party membership, if not rabid enthusiasm, was a way to establish the necessary credentials. A fondness for Wagner would no doubt help as well.
  10. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Not wishing to hijack this thread regarding German Propoganda films, but Werner von Braun realized that the only way he was going to be able to develop his rocket Research was with the help of the Military.

    Regarding Leni Riefenstahl, she was undoubtably one of the leading film makers of the time in Germany and being female stood out.

    She was considered a favourite with the Party and many say that she produced excellent propoganda films.

    It is a fact that if you were a Party Member doors were opened to you.

    I remeber reading that Ernst heinkel struggled for contracts against Messerschmitt, purely because he was not a Party member.

  11. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    I've heard of this film, and am also interested in the background of WW2, but more from the point of view of the individual German "man in the street" and his family.

    How was the film distributed, and who watched it?
  12. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    It is a beautiful looking (and sounding) film and was obviously made by a master of her craft. It is one of the great propaganda films. It's also very, very German, with its emphasis on music, old-fashioned medieval stuff, light show etc. The curious thing to me is the open delight in even the minor details of military life like the soup kitchen, which you would think was impossible to be romantic about.That such stuff could be expected to appeal to and excite a German audience says a lot about the Germany of the early 20th Century.

    It is also impossible to sit through. An American or a Briton can only watch so many beautifully photographed and choreographed parades and ceremonies without starting to die of boredom. This picture is a long sermon to the converted, and as propaganda I doubt that it would appeal to anyone else.
  13. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    On a lighter note - I was once advised by a refugee from pre-war Germany: If you wan to understand the German mentality of those days, read "Three Men on the Bummel" by J.K.Jerome.
  14. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day,bcatp b& propaganda film:triuph des wiliens.the introduction of propaganda in the 1930s was a totally new consept of communicasions,the masses in there ignorance believed what they saw,in the was hard all over the western world.and the german govermant used it to there advantage.leni Riefenstahl was a master film maker.a great friend of hitler and his mob.they gave her a free hand,she did a great job.lived the good life after the war,into her 90s.and tv have been using propaganda to sell all kinds of products,now its called advertising.regards bernard85
  15. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    More on the subject here:

  16. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

  17. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin



  18. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    A good movie to watch as it shows how the NSDAP viewed themselves through their rose tinted glasses, how AH was presented as an all knowing "gift from God", the people going back to simple values, the strong arm of the party guarding and ever watchful....a uniform , a medal and a job for everyone, food a plenty and a happy cheerful youth , a proud and productive nation...... that is the message here.
    BS ....... absolutely but so well produced and tailored to promote The Cult of the Fuhrer.

    I refuse to watch "The Eternal Jew", know what is in it but refuse to watch it......... pure hate.

    The propaganda message was powerful , those outside German society and those who were not seduced knew what was going on and the truth behind the posters and cinema news reels....... within Germany this was hard given the complete control over all news outlets, carrot and stick .....the concentration camps were not a secret they were there to serve a purpose and to warn those who might resist or those who might doubt.

    Rotten to the core.
  19. rockape252

    rockape252 Senior Member


    Not to hyjack the thread but keeping within the bounds of Nazi Propoganda.

    The Nazis were the first to televise the Olympic Games.

    Please see attached picture of a Nazi TV camera at the 1936 Olympic Games

    Regards, Mick D.

    Attached Files:

  20. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    So do I, I don't have to open a cesspool to know what's in it.

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