Reich Party Congress Grounds or Nazi Party Rally Grounds (German: Reichsparteitagsgelände) covered about 11 square kilometers in the southeast of Nuremberg, Germany. Six Nazi party rallies were held there between 1933 and 1938.
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On 30 August 1933, Hitler declared Nuremberg the “City of the Reichsparteitage (Reich Party Congresses)”. The Party Congresses (Reichsparteitage) were a self-portrayal of the National Socialist state and had no programmatic task, simply demonstrating the unity of the nation. In a propagandistic way, a relation was to be drawn between the National Socialist Movement and the glory of the medieval emperors and the meetings of the Imperial States which were held in Nuremberg.
The grounds were all designed by Hitler’s architect Albert Speer, except for the Congress Hall, which was designed by Ludwig and Franz Ruff.
The grounds included:
- The Luitpoldarena – a deployment area famous in many pictures that shows deployments of the SA and the SS with up to 150,000 people took place in this area.
- The Luitpold Hall or Old Congress Hall – damaged during World War II and later demolished.
- The Kongresshalle (Congress Hall) or Neue Kongresshalle (New Congress Hall) – unfinished.
- The Zeppelinfeld (Zeppelin Field) – another deployment area famous in many pictures displaying the military forces and National Socialist forces in display before the Fuhrer and the many officials including the public.
- The Märzfeld (March Field) – unfinished and later demolished, a deployment area for the Wehrmacht.
- The Deutsche Stadion (German stadium) – only foundations were built, which was to be the largest sports stadium in the world.
- The former Stadion der Hitlerjugend (Stadium of the Hitler Youth) – today Frankenstadion.
- The Große Straße (Great Road) – a never-used parade road.
- A Haus der Kultur (House of Culture) and a representative entrance portal towards the Great Road – were planned at the northwestern end of the Great Road, near the new Congress Hall.
Only Zeppelinfeld, Luitpoldarena, and Große Straße were finished. The Kongresshalle, Zeppelinfeld and the Große Straße have been under monument protection since 1973 as significant examples of National Socialist architecture.
Today the whole site is a memorial, and parts are used as the Norisring motor racing track.
Since 1906 a park named Luitpoldhain (Luitpold Grove, named after Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria) existed here. During the Weimar Republic of 1919–1933, the Ehrenhalle (Hall of Honour) was built in the park.
In 1933, Hitler replaced the park with a strictly-structured deployment area called Luitpoldarena with an area of 84,000 m².
During the party rallies, deployments of the SA and the SS with up to 150,000 people took place in this area. The central relic here was the Blutfahne (Blood flag), which was carried by the Beer Hall Putsch rebels and was soaked with the blood of one of them. At the Blutfahnenweihe (Blood flag consecration), new Standarten (flags) of SA- and SS-units were consecrated by touching their guidons with the Blutfahne.
After 1945, the city of Nuremberg redesigned the area into a park again. All buildings from the National Socialist era were demolished. Only the half-round of the terraces of the main grandstand is recognizable.
Ehrenhalle – Hall of Honour
The Ehrenhalle was built by the city of Nuremberg according to a plan of German architect Fritz Mayer. It was inaugurated in 1930, before the Hitler era during the Weimar Republic. It is an arcaded hall with an adjacent cobbled stone terrace with two rows of pedestals for fire bowls. All fourteen pylons remain virtually intact and have not been ignited since the final Nazi party rally in September 1938. Originally the hall was to be a memorial site for the 9,855 soldiers from Nuremberg who were fallen in World War I.
During the Party Congress of 1929, the then unfinished Hall of Honour was used for the enactment of a cult of the dead by the National Socialists the first time. During the Third Reich, the Nazis used the site primarily as a commemoration for the fallen soldiers of World War I and commemoration of the 16 dead of the Hitlerputsch, the Martyrs of the National Socialist Movement from the Beer Hall Putsch, on 9 November 1923 in Munich. Hitler, accompanied by SS-leader Heinrich Himmler and SA-leader Viktor Lutze, strode through the arena over the 240 meters long granite path from the main grandstand to the terrace of the Ehrenhalle and showed the Nazi salute there. The ritual was the climax of the celebration.
Ehrentribüne – Tribune of Honour
Opposite the Ehrenhalle the crescent-shaped Ehrentribüne or main grandstand which measured 150 m (490 ft) long with 6 m (20 ft) gold eagles on each end was built. This structure, built by architect Albert Speer, could seat 500 dignitaries and represented the first permanent structure built by the Nazis in Nuremberg. The Ehrenhalle and the Ehrentribüne were connected by a wide granite path. The Ehrentribüne was blown up in 1959-60.
Luitpoldhalle – Luitpold Hall
The Luitpold Hall, built in1906, had an outline of 180 m × 50 m (590 ft × 160 ft) featured 76 loudspeakers, 42 spotlights, the largest pipe organ in Germany and could seat 16,000 people. Dating back to the Bavarian Exposition, the former machine hall was renovated and first used by the Nazis for the party convention party congress of 1934. Its monumental neo classic facade featured a shell limestone facing with three enormous entrance portals. It was in this building during the party congress of 1935, that the Nuremberg laws were adapted which deprived German Jews and other minorities of their citizenship. The structure was severely damaged by allied bombs in early 1945 and a few years later replaced by a parking lot. The granite staircase leading to the building remains intact today.
Kongresshalle – Congress Hall
The Congress Hall is the biggest preserved national socialist monumental building and is landmarked. It was planned by the Nuremberg architects Ludwig and Franz Ruff. It was intended to serve as a congress center for the NSDAP with a self-supporting roof and would have provided 50,000 seats. It was located on the shore of and in the pond Dutzendteich and marked the entrance of the rally grounds. The building reached a height of 39 m (128 ft) (a height of 70 m was planned) and a diameter of 250 m (820 ft). The building is mostly built out of clinker with a facade of granite panels. The design, especially the outer facade, among other features, is inspired by the Colosseum in Rome. The foundation stone was laid in 1935, but the building remained unfinished and without a roof. The building with an outline of a “U” ends with two head-buildings. Since 2001, the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände (Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds), with the permanent exhibition Faszination und Gewalt (Fascination and Terror), has been located in the northern wing. In the southern building, the Serenadenhof, the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra have their domicile.
Great Road – Große Straße
The great road is almost 2 km (1.2 mi) long and 40 m (130 ft) wide. It was intended to be the central axis of the site and a parade road for the Wehrmacht. In its northwestern prolongation, the road points towards Nuremberg Castle. This was to create a relation between the role of Nuremberg during the Third Reich and its role during medieval times.
The road reached from the Congress Hall to the Märzfeld, the construction work started in 1935 and was finished in 1939. It was never been used as a parade road, as due to the beginning of World War II. The last rally was held in 1938. The pavement was made of granite pavers in black and gray with edges of exactly 1.2 m (3.9 ft). A representative entrance portal and two pylons were planned at the northwestern end of the Great Road. Near the entrance area of the German Stadion, a grandstand with a hall of pillars was planned for the government leaders and generals which were to take the salute on Wehrmacht formations which were to march in direction of the parade ground Märzfeld.
After the war, the road was used as a temporary airfield for the US Army. Today, it is used by the nearby Nuremberg fair and exhibition company as an occasional parking area for highly frequented fairs.
Zeppelinfeld – Zeppelin Field
The Zeppelinfeld (Zeppelin Field) is located east of the Great Road. It consists of a large grandstand (Zeppelinhaupttribüne) with a width of 360 meters (390 yards) and a smaller stand. It was one of Albert Speer’s first works for the Nazi party and was based upon the Pergamon Altar. Its square piers are inspired by the work of Franco-American architect Paul Philippe Cret. The grandstand is famous as the building that had the swastika blown from atop it in 1945, after Germany’s fall in World War II. The name Zeppelinfeld or Zeppelinwiese refers to the fact that in August 1909 Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin landed with one of his airships (LZ6) in this location.
From 1947 to 1995, the Nurnberg American High School, a DoDDS facility, used the field (called ‘Soldiers Field’) for high school football and American football practice. In the 1970s, the pillars were removed for safety reasons. Years of neglect had taken their toll. The rest of the stand is intact and used as the centerpiece of the Norisring motor racing track. The German leg of the traveling heavy metal festival Monsters of Rock was held here twice during the 1980s. The field has also been used by the Nuremberg Rams American Football team. Another part of the grounds is home to a campground.
Deutsches Stadion – German Stadium
Along with his plans for the Welthauptstadt Germania (world capital Germania), Albert Speer made the plans for the world’s largest stadium which was to be located on the rally grounds. Derived from the Panathenaic Stadium of Athens, it would have offered 400,000 seats. It was to get the shape of a horseshoe; planned dimensions: length: 800 m, width: 450 m, height: 100 m, building area 350,000 m².
The laying of the foundation stone was on 9 July 1937. It was to be finished for the party congress in 1945. In 1938, the construction began with the excavation. It was stopped in 1939, but during the whole war, the casting pit had to be kept dry from entering groundwater. After the war, the northern half of the pit filled up with the water and is today called Silbersee (silver lake), the southern half was used to deposit the debris of the destroyed downtown Nuremberg.
Märzfeld – March Field
The Märzfeld, relating to the Roman god of war -Mars, was to be a representation and parade ground for the Wehrmacht. It was located at the southern end of the Große Straße”. The dimensions were 955 by 610 meters (1,044 yd × 667 yds) or bigger than 80 football fields. The name of the huge deployment area was supposed to recall the recovery of military sovereignty of the German Reich in March 1935. März is the German name for the month March. As in English, the name derives from the Roman warrior god Mars. The name Märzfeld thus also alludes to the Campus Martius, in Rome. The Champs de Mars in Paris take their name from the Roman landmark as well.
The construction, never completed, began in 1938 with plans calling for 24 granite towers each about 40 meters (130 feet) in height. Only eleven were ever completed and were demolished in 1966. Tribunes for about 160,000 people were planned around the field. On the central grandstand, a group of colossal statues was planned: a goddess of victory and warriors.
Today the site is occupied by a residential district, Langwasser, which also extends to the south, into the area previously used for tent cities during the party rallies.
KdF-Stadt – KdF-City
In the north-east of the rally grounds, the KdF-Stadt was built. In wooden exhibition halls, regional products were presented and recreational events were accomplished during the party congresses. The KdF looked after workers during their free time.
The Party Congresses
Reichsparteitage of the NSDAP from 1923 to 1938
- 27–29 January 1923, Munich.
- 3–4 July 1926, Weimar.
- 19–21 August 1927, Nuremberg.
- 1–4 August 1929, Nuremberg.
- 30 August – 3 September 1933, Nuremberg – Reichsparteitag des Sieges (Reich Party Congress of Victory); Documented in Der Sieg des Glaubens by Leni Riefenstahl.
- 5–10 September 1934, Nuremberg – Reichsparteitag der Einheit und Stärke (Reich Party Congress of Unity and Strength); Documented in Triumph des Willens by Leni Riefenstahl.
- 10–16 September 1935, Nuremberg – Reichsparteitag der Freiheit (Reich Party Congress of Freedom).
- 8–14 September 1936, Nuremberg – Reichsparteitag der Ehre (Reich Party Congress of Honour).
- 6–13 September 1937, Nuremberg – Reichsparteitag der Arbeit (Reich Party Congress of Work).
- 5–12 September 1938, Nuremberg – Reichsparteitag Großdeutschland (Reich Party Congress of Greater Germany)
- 2 September 1939 – Canceled because of the outbreak of war, Nuremberg, Reichsparteitag des Friedens (Reich Party Congress of Peace).