Rural folk festival as a Mass Rally

The “creators” of the “Reichserntedankfest” (Reich Harvest Thanksgiving Festival) at the yearly inspection of the arena, 1935

Leopold Gutterer, the organiser, Albert Speer, the architect , Joseph Goebbels, the builder and Kurt Schmalz, the deputy Gauleiter (district leader) of the responsible NS-Gaues Süd

Hannover- Braunschwieg (NS-District South Hannover-Braunschweig) (from left to right).

Private Collection

In the late summer of 1933 the Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels commissioned Albert Speer to design an arena for a “rural folk festival in the countryside of hitherto undreamt-of dimensions”.

With the character of a “folk festival” and the location in the “countryside” far from any city, the Reichserntedankfest (Reich Harvest thanksgiving Festival) would be something different compared to other national socialist mass events.

A suitable location In the Weserbergland (Weser region) was found, with the gentle, sloping, treeless Northwest facing slope of the Bückeberg. It offered enough room for the anticipated huge number of visitors.

The completed, extended rally arena, 1936

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Newspaper Photo/Scherl

Speer was given a free hand in designing the arena at the Bückeberg. He only had to concentrate on the design of the site, and not worry about existing buildings as was the case in many inner- city rally locations. Speer strove to incorporate the arena “naturally” into the Weser valley countryside.

Using the existing incline, Speer formed the arena into a kind of outdoor stage measuring approximately 800 x 250 metres (= almost 50 football pitches).

Compared to the flat inner-city spaces, the hillside location had a key advantage in Speer´s eyes:

“Each and every one of the 500000 participants gathered there could see…. They could experience live the demonstrative impact of their (blocked in original) mass rally, of which they proudly were a tiny piece.” It affected the participants in an “invigorating and encouraging” way. (Albert Speer, 1933)

Zum Anfang