German Propaganda Archive Calvin College

 

Background: The Nazi Party put out an official account of the Nuremberg Rallies each year from 1933 to 1938. This is the section dealing with the Wehrmacht’s part of the 1936 rally. After a description of the mock battles, Field Marshall von Blomberg and Hitler speak.

The source: Der Parteitag der Ehre vom 8. bis 14. September 1936. Offizieller Bericht über den Verlauf des Reichsparteitages mit sämtlichen Kongreßreden (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1936), pp. 279-288


The Wehrmacht on the Zeppelin Field


After the series of marches that each day give the Reich Party Rally its most visible form, the Day of the Wehrmacht on the Zeppelin Field brings the week to an end.

To give the hundreds of thousands of party rally participants the opportunity to see the Wehrmacht, there were two parades on Monday. The first was at 8:00 a.m. Minister of War General Field Marshall von Blomberg gave a short speech to the troops and presented them with their new standards. The Führer was present for the second parade in the afternoon. The Führer and Supreme Commander spoke to his soldiers. A gathering of all participating military units on the Zeppelin Field and a solemn flag-lowering ceremony at midnight at the Führer’s hotel completed the Day of the Wehrmacht.

The enormous stands surrounding the Zeppelin Field were of course packed by early morning with those who were eagerly awaiting the military spectacle. The fall air was fine and sunny. The many swastika flags were supplemented by the Reich Battle Flag.

Many of the viewers were not familiar with the nature of our modern army. The program was designed to give them an overview of the various military units and their role in the army as a whole. Of course, the space available did not allow for genuine military maneuvers, since the troops were restricted to a relatively limited area.

The loudspeakers announced the beginning of the parade at 8:00 a.m. sharp. The Luftwaffe demonstrated its capacities and duties. Reconnaissance aircraft appeared high above, with another group soon coming from the opposite direction. New formations appeared a few minutes later, their deep drone audible from afar. A fighter squadron flew low over the field. Behind them came the “Hindenburg” squadron, followed by squadrons 153 and 155. Then came groups from the “General Wever” and “Bölcke” squadrons.

The air is filled with the sounds of the large machines, flying in precise formation about 100 meters above the ground.

Fighters fly over higher up. As the loudspeakers announce that the first group belongs to the “Horst Wessel” squadron, the cheers are so loud that one almost thinks that they can be heard in the thundering planes. The “Richthofen” and “Immelmann” squadrons also appear.

The fighter groups circle the field, and finally a group separates to perform exercises. It is an amazing sight as the planes turn, yet maintain their tight formation.

The formation breaks up. They circle the field and then—the leader dives toward the field. One machine after another follows, plunging toward to the ground. Then the machines climb again and resume their formation.

As the planes disappear over the horizon, light and heavy flak batteries enter the field. They rapidly set up positions. As soon as the barrels are pointed skywards, a squadron of dive bombers attempts an attack.

The light battery fires furiously. The guns are turned to follow the planes as they head off. The heavy batteries too begin their work as a new attack by squadrons at high elevation begins. The noise is hellish, giving at least an idea of what reality would be like.

The trucks of the flak battery now leave—they were camouflaged during the attack — and new vehicles enter the field. An aerial parade of all formations closes this part of the exhibition. In close formation, the groups fly by at low altitude.

Now modern cavalry units conduct military exercises. A trumpet corps gallops in through the main gate across from the main platform and takes position beneath it. Units of the Tenth Cavalry Regiment enter from the other three gates, meeting in the center and marching to the main platform. They stop briefly before galloping out through the rear entrance.

The exhibition is over in a few minutes, yet what effort and training were necessary for such a precision appearance by a thousand horses and riders.

Next come exercises by a light artillery battalion. Scarcely have they taken their positions when the first command to fire sounds. The fire toward the right. Another command, and they strike the guns and leave at a gallop.

Scarcely is the field empty when reconnaissance cavalry race across the field from the east. They are followed by the advance forces. Red skyrockets rise. The scouts have seen enemy tank units to the west. The guns take up position, and open fire against the enemy attack. The cavalry advance can continue. The scouts again are at the lead. The cavalry units are at the front, followed by anti-tank guns. The signal troops that maintain contact between units are off to the side. They now march by. A machine gun unit follows at the rear of each squadron. The cavalry artillery followed, then the motorized portion of each unit, consisting of signal and engineering troops, who protect against subsequent enemy tank attacks. More anti-tank guns follow in the rear.

The whole exercise provides a clear picture of how modern mobile troops work together with cavalry and motorized forces, and how within the regiment various groups have specialized tasks.

A motorized reconnaissance unit (4) and a gun battalion (Gun Regiment 1) attack an enemy position. The previous excise demonstrated the role of the cavalry. Here, men, horses and motors form a new whole that shows how motorized units have taken on roles formerly filled by the cavalry.

The two west gates, representing a narrow gap, are occupied by “red” guns, light machine gun troops and anti-tank guns. Light and heavy reconnaissance vehicles enter from the east gates and encounter fire from the position. They are forced to retreat. A motorcycle company attacks the position to open the way, supported by artillery.

Supported by machine guns and artillery fire, the company gains ground. But they are still too weak to win the position. Two further companies with artillery arrive. Trucks bring them to the front. Reconnaissance armored vehicles are still needed. The armored vehicles advance through the heavy fire and begin chasing the enemy, who gradually gives way under concentrated fire. The motorcycle company follows quickly behind. The guns fire ahead of the trucks. The whole company begins again to advance.

The 1. Abteilung of a tank division begins maneuvers. Entering from the central gate opposite the main platform, they spread out before the platform and conduct various maneuvers. They form two columns, and weave back and forth, which requires exact timing. Forward and diagonal maneuvers follow. At the command that battle is near, the heads of the gunners disappear from the turrets. One hundred tanks fire a thundering salvo. The tanks roll past the main platform and leave the field.

Maneuvers of the II. Motorized Artillery Regiment Jüterbog follow, in company with Signal Battalion 14. The commander enters the field, followed by his battery commander and the troops. The artillery follows after. It consists of a 10-centimeter battery and heavy and light field guns. The guns are spread about the field. They are immediately camouflaged. They are ready to fire. They begin firing. Meanwhile, radiomen from the signal corps have arrived to maintain contact between the firing batteries, the airmen and the commanding officers. Movement after movement follows quickly. The batteries fire salvos and provide covering fire. The radiomen leave. The trucks towing the guns return and the formations leave the field.

The last part of the exhibition is a large mock battle. A strong defensive position with machine guns and light artillery is established to the West. It is defended with barbed wire and mine fields. The attackers—the III. Infantry Regiment 11 — enters from the east. The attack begins, supported by heavy machine guns and artillery. The enemy answers with heavy fire against the machine guns. The attackers work forward through heavy fire. But the enemy position is too strong.

Tank units come to the support of the infantry, opening heavy fire on the enemy position. The hellish noise reaches its high point. Moving forward through the infantry, the tanks advance despite heavy fire. They reach the minefields. Mines explode, disabling some tanks. The second wave succeeds in reaching the enemy position. They roll over the barbed wire. The enemy retreats, and the riflemen follow behind the tanks to pursue the enemy. After heavy combat, the enemy position is taken.

*

Enthusiastic cheering and applause thank the troops for their work. Now the field is cleared for a parade of all the units. Nearly 18,000 men march in through every gate. As the march finishes, the infantry stands to the right of the platform, a detachment of naval officers in the center, and to the left four regiments of the Luftwaffe. Behind the navy in the center is the cavalry regiment, then some of the motorized units, the artillery, the anti-tank, flak, signal and armored units.

At a command, the ceremony begins. The officers draw their daggers at the command “present weapons.” To the tune of the “Frederick the Great March,” the flag bearers march in, the musicians at the head, then three detachments each with 30 flags of the old army. One detachment is from the army, one from the navy, one from the Luftwaffe. The individual units carry their new flags.

The flag bearers take up position before the main platform. Then

General Field Marshall von Blomberg

steps to the microphone and greets his soldiers: “Heil soldiers!” “Heil!,” they reply. “At ease,” he replies, and begins to speak:

Soldiers!

The Führer and Reich Chancellor gave the new Wehrmacht its flags on 16 March 1936. A holy tradition has been given new life. To your honor, the new flags and standards will be received by loyal hands on the Day of the Wehrmacht at the Reich Party Rally. They are a symbol of what you must protect and keep pure. They are symbols of the honor of your units. They are a symbol of military values. Your highest duty from now on is to follow the flag both in life and in death.

After the General Field Marshall had called the supreme commanders of the three services to give the flags to the units, the flag bearers marched to their respective military units. The “Presentation March” played as the three military commanders, General Freiherr von Fritsch, Admiral Raeder and General Göring, marched to their troops to ceremonially award the flags. They held the cloth of the flag and extended their hand to the commander of the relevant unit, who stood before the flag with drawn dagger. The flag was then lifted, and both the supreme commander and the commander saluted the holy flag. The unit had then received its new field standard.

General Field Marshall von Blomberg spoke once more of the man who built the new German Wehrmacht and who gave it its new symbols.

Soldiers!

We think of the man who gave us our new field standards, and to whom we are bound in unbreakable loyalty. Adolf Hitler, our Führer and Reichs Chancellor, the Supreme Commander of the German Wehrmacht, of our German people and fatherland: Sieg Heil!

The Wehrmacht and onlookers joined in enthusiastically singing the song of the nation to end the military exhibition and flag ceremony.

*

The Führer was greeted with loud cheers in the afternoon as he and his associates arrived at the Zeppelin Field for the second exhibition. Germany’s Führer received the love of his German citizens, just as he had throughout the party rally. The rising storm of enthusiasm was particularly powerful here, as each German thanked the man who restored Germany’s military strength and honor.

The exhibition followed the same course as in the morning. Once again, everything worked perfectly. All 18,000 men worked as if they were parts of a single huge machine.

As the troops were gathered on the field at the end of the exhibition, the Führer stepped to the microphone.

The Führer to the Soldiers of the Third Reich

Soldiers!

You have come to this place in Nuremberg for the third time!

For the first time, you carry the battle flag of the new Reich!

For the first time you hold in your hands your new regimental flags!

We see in this scene the transformation that Germany, our Germany, your Germany, has undergone.

The transformation is the result of a vast work of educating our people, and no less work in every area of our national life.

We owe it to the untiring work and industry of our people that we can stand here today in celebration. All this work would be in vain if the Reich were not able to defend itself against internal and external enemies. We are filled with pride today at the results of our work for peace. Millions of people work year in and year out in factories, workplaces, and offices for these goals, and it is understandable and reasonable that they are also ready to risk their lives to maintain what they have created.

That is why you have been called by the nation, my soldiers!

You are not asked to serve some extreme chauvinistic goal, but rather to stand guard over our people! You stand watch over our Germany! As I see you before me, I feel, I know, that this guard defends us against all dangers and threats.

The German has always been a good soldier. The army you are a part of carries the proudest traditions of the past. When Germany collapsed [in 1918], it was because of internal political failure.

Today, my young soldiers, Germany stands as straight as you do. Germany is once more worthy of its soldiers, and I know that you will be worthy soldiers of the Reich!

People, party and Wehrmacht are an indestructable sworn community!

Grave times may come. You will never waver, never lose course, never prove cowardly! We all know that heaven is not gained by half measures! Freedom has no use for cowards! The future belongs to the brave alone!

What is demanded of you is only a fraction of what the past demanded of us. We did our duty then, and you will do your duty today. For the two years that I require you to serve Germany, I will give you ten years in return! Each of you will become healthier through your training than ever before. What you give to the fatherland in your youth you will receive back when you are old. You will be a healthy generation that is not trapped in offices and factories, but are trained in the sun and fresh air, steeled by exercise and hardened in character.

And believe me, Germany appreciates you, its soldiers!

The honor, admiration and love the old army had has been transferred to you. And you will be worthy of it!

The nation expects no sacrifice of you that you are unwilling to give.

Germany will never again suffer the tragic fate that we were condemned to suffer!

Our fatherland, your Germany, your homeland and the homeland of your children will be strong and great and happy. You will defend the peace that protects our lives!

In this hour, we all join in affirming our German people, the millions of working people in cities and the countryside, in affirming the German Reich.

Our Germany: Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!

*

The Führer’s speech was constantly interrupted by applause. When he finished, the crowd passionately sang the national anthem and the “Horst Wessel Song.” Everyone knew that together with the Führer, 18,000 German soldiers, and 250,000 onlookers, they had experienced a celebration of German national community and German honor.

The troops then marched out to parade before the Führer.

In the interval, the young Luftwaffe gave a unique demonstration of its abilities. A group of 17 planes appeared on the horizon in the precise formation of a swastika. The swastika flew over the field and vanished over the horizon. Then came a second aerial greeting: the airship “Hindenburg,” which had flown over the Zeppelin field during the Luftwaffe’s exhibition, appeared once more and flew low over the field. It returned and held position over the field for a few minutes as the cheers of the crowd rose. Lacking a better sign, thousands of handkerchiefs were waved before the main platform. The military parade began a few minutes later.

General Field Marshall von Blomberg and the three supreme commanders of the services joined their troops at the entrance to the Zeppelin Field, and took their places at the front to march past the Führer. The Führer and Reich Chancellor had taken position on a small platform. He greeted the General Field Marshall von Blomberg and the three service heads, who stood beside him. The first flag battalion (the Infantry Training Battalion Döberitz) marched past. The onlookers rose repeatedly to clap and cheer. The Party Rally of Honor now had its military symbol.

The new German Wehrmacht was created because hundreds of thousands, millions, of German men and women swore allegiance in unbreakable idealism to the flag of Adolf Hitler, having faith in a new Germany. After days of marches and meetings of our political soldiers at the Reich Party Rally, the parade of the Wehrmacht before its supreme commander was the last visible result of our battle and our triumph. As this man stood on the platform to greet the new banners of his army, his face and his will united the hearts of hundreds of thousands. He united the people, party and Wehrmacht in a single goal: to serve Germany’s honor.

 

[Page copyright © 1998 by Randall Bytwerk. No unauthorized reproduction. My e-mail address is available on the FAQ page.]


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