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Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will"

Leni Riefenstahl at the 1933 Party Rally.

In April 1934, Adolf Hitler orders dancer/actress/director Leni Riefenstahl (1902-2003) to make a film of the "Party Rally of Unity and Strength" that September in Nuremberg. Just a year earlier, she had made "Victory of Faith," but that Party Rally film had suffered from many shortcomings in both execution and dramaturgy. It also showed SA head Ernst Röhm almost as Hitler's equal. Röhm was murdered a year later at the Führer's command.

The "Triumph of the Will" – the title comes from Hitler himself – proves to be a perfectly executed propaganda film lasting nearly two hours. After its premiere at Berlin's UFA Palast theater on March 28, 1935, it runs in 70 German cities. The Nazi Party film distributorship uses it for political education, and also shows it in schools. Pupils' attendance is mandatory.

This masterful phantasmagoria, using new shooting techniques and unusual camera angles, takes months to edit in the studio. It will henceforth dominate visual memories of the Nazi Party Rallies, with their orchestrated masses, and promotes the party's most important political message: the ties between the Führer and his "Volk." Hitler himself appears in a third of the film. In 1945, after the end of the war, the victorious Allies will ban it from public showing.

Back to the overview page "The Nazi Party Rallies"