The Nazi Party Rallies as a Folk Festival
Press Photos from the Atlantic Photo Agency in Berlin

A packet of nine photos from the Atlantic Agency, some with unusual subject matter, 1937 and 1938.
Stamp of the Atlantic Agency, with the logo of the Reich Association of German Photographic Reporters (R.D.B.) and the stamp of Vienna's Schostal Agency.Women of the Reich Labor Service at the 1937 Nazi Party Rally. Original caption: "Female Labor Service at the Party Rally for the first time. Lining up for bockwurst."Political Leaders in front of booths at the camp, 1937 or 1938. Original caption: "In the camp of the Political Leaders."A scene in a tent at the camp of the Nazi "Order Castles," 1937. Original caption: "At the permanent quarters of the National Socialist Order Castles"Folk dancers and onlookers at the Main Market Place during the 1938 Nazi Party Rally. Original caption: "Styrians dance in their pretty costumes on Adolf-Hitler-Platz"
Made by:

Atlantic Agency, Berlin

Distributed by:

Atlantic Agency/ Schostal Agency


1937 and 1938


9 Press photos; Original prints on photographic paper, stamped on back and with captions attached


13 cm x 18 cm (portrait and landscape formats)

Collection Numbers:

DZ-Ph 1305-00 to -09

Wurst, dancing, coffee stands, camp life with accordion music – the National Socialist press also highlighted the special appeal of a shared adventure at the Nazi Party Rallies. The rallies were to be not just a political and personal duty, but a source of enjoyment and a communal experience.

In addition to the photographic and media conglomerate operated by Hitler’s favored photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann, other agencies large and small, as well as numerous independent photographers, supplied materials to the print media of the day. The photographic collection held by the Documentation Center at the Nazi Party Rally Grounds also reflects this diversity, including with a small packet of original prints stamped with "Atlantic Photo-Ges.m.b.H." and "Agentur Schostal" on the back.

The backs of the photographs

The Atlantic photography company, headquartered in Berlin, was one of the larger firms that sold photos, and was probably the first in Germany to concentrate entirely on photography for the press. As a "photographic news agency" with its own photographic production, by the mid-1930s Atlantic had 18 commercial employees and photo reporters on its staff and 11 lab workers. It was a member of the Reich Association of German Photographic Reporters – the Reichsverband der Deutschen Bildberichterstatter (R.D.B.) – whose logo showed an eagle rising above a man holding a camera. Both seem to be focusing on a point somewhere in the distance. The "Support German Labor" slogan incorporated into the company's stamp was also a call to prefer the German photographic agency over any foreign – much less Jewish – competition. The second stamp, "Agentur Schostal," indicates that the prints were also sold in Austria by Robert F. Schostal's photo agency in Vienna.

"Lining Up for Bockwurst"

1937 was the first year when not just the men of the Reich Labor Service, but also the women members, took part in the Party Rally in Nuremberg. Propaganda was at particular pains to highlight their involvement: a delegation from the Reich Labor Service had a place of honor on the Zeppelinfeld Grandstand, and Hitler shook hands personally with the women’s leaders. The photo reporting supplied pictures not just of those encounters, but also photos like this one, titled "Lining Up for Bockwurst," that emphasized how well-fed and relaxed the new female contingent at the rally were.

Good cheer, cake and coffee

Two more photos by the Atlantic Agency from the 1937 Party Rally also highlight good cheer: the camp for the Political Leaders – the Nazi Party officials who made up the largest group of rally participants – included stands selling coffee and pastries, as well as "Nuremberg Wurst and Bread Sales." The men, some of them nonchalantly sitting around in undershirts, seem to be enjoying their refreshments.

High times also appear to have prevailed at a tent in the camp for the Nazi "Order Castles" on Regensburger Strasse. Students from these elite quasi-military party officers' colleges, like Vogelsang and Sonthofen, were another new group of rally participants with their own camp area – and here they seem to be enjoying a moment of downtime. But look more closely at the photo, titled "At the permanent quarters of the National Socialist Order Castles," and you can see how staged the picture is. No one is singing along; some of the men sit almost impassively, and few are smiling. A group of men who have presumably just come back from washing seem to have been deposited in the midst of a crowd of mostly properly attired students sitting at tables, their uniforms neatly hung up at the left. Camp life was also code for the "community of the Volk," and was staged accordingly.

Dancing at "Adolf-Hitler-Platz"

The 1938 rally, programmatically titled the "Nazi Party Rally of Greater Germany," especially featured what was known as the "Anschluss" – the annexation or "joining up" – of Austria. The atmosphere was as ostensibly folk-oriented as possible. Hence a group in folk garb from the Austrian region of Styria showed up (certainly not spontaneously) to do a folk dance in the Main Market Square (then known as "Adolf-Hitler-Platz"). Folk costume was also intended to symbolize the associated region's membership in the "Greater German Reich," while at the same time showing off the Party Rallies' folk roots. Folk-dancing groups and folk-oriented festival attractions were thus an integral part of the Nazi Party Rallies, not just at the large halls of "Strength Through Joy City" at the Valznerweiher Lake, but on the Zeppelin Field and at the Main Market Square, as here.

Acquisitions by the collection at the Documentation Center have assembled a total of nine original photographic prints from the Atlantic agency. They represent only a small fraction of the agency's production, much of which is included in the collection of the German Historical Museum in Berlin. And they are only a tiny part of the flood of photographs of the Nazi Party Rallies.

Series "Brought to Light – from the collection of the Documentation Center"

Text: Alexander Schmidt