Dresden- Festplatz / Sachsen

The origin of this thingplatz-like riverside grandstand has not been clearly clarified to this day. There was already a “Königsuferplan” in 1933, which provided for a “festival site for national rallies”. It is not known to what extent this had anything to do with the additional Thingstätte planned for Dresden in 1934. The latter was planned on the banks of the Elbe at the Ministry of Finance, the aforementioned festival site and parade ground on the other side of the river. This two-part overall facility, which was to have the Elbe flowing through it, was intended for a crowd of up to 300,000.
Today, the site is used as an open-air cinema.

 [1]

Historic Name
„Festplatzanlage für nationale Kundgebungen“ (Festival ground for national rallies)

Link to Deutsche Fotothek for a historic photo by Else Seifert: View from the Thingplatz at the Ministry of Finance to the southeast towards the Carolabrücke and the residential development on the Terrassenufer, ca. 1940


Use today
Movie nights on the banks of the Elbe / https://dresden.filmnaechte.de/ 

Further Info::

Both the realization of the aforementioned building project and the plans for the new Dresden Gauforum and the associated far-reaching urban development measures were no longer implemented during the Nazi era. However, parts of the planned reorganization and widening of the main streets were implemented by the later GDR regime almost 1:1 later.[2]


[1] Stommer, Rainer, Die inszenierte Volksgemeinschaft, Jonas- Verlag Marburg, 1985, S. 229

[2] Thomas Kantschew, Das geplante „Gauforum Dresden“. Werkzeug zur Massenmanipulation – Gigantomanie des deutschen Faschismus, http://www.das-neue-dresden.de/gauforum.html (accessed Sept 30th 2023)

Text by Bernhard Gelderblom on the history of the Reichsthingstätte Bückeberg

In the summer of 1933, citizens of the Third Reich first learned from the newspapers that there would be a large harvest festival. “The German peasantry … will not only make a powerful commitment to the new realm in a show of unity on this day but will also demonstrate its importanceas the sustainer of the nation in front of everyone.”

Published in “Thingstätten”, Kerber, Bielefeld 2020 p 2022 – 2031. All rights reserved.

Bückeberg / Lower Saxony

The artificially levelled large grass field on the northwestern slope of the Bückeberg was supposed to be developed as a Thingsstätte starting in 1935, after it had already been used as festival grounds for the “Reichserntedankfest” (Reich Harvest Thanksgiving Festival) in 1933. The official numbers of visitors in 1933 was 500,000; in 1937, the last year the festival was held, it was 1,200,000. Hitler was present with a speech and a ceremonial walk through the masses along a path still visible today.

There were a few – even heavily symbolic – reasons for this decision: this area in Lower Saxony was considered by the National Socialst as the country of free combative and “pure” peasantry. The nearby river course of the Weser, the river that ran entirely through “German country” from its source to its estuary, also played a role, as it could serve as a possible means of arrival for visitors. The railroad lines in the immediate vicinity carried weight, too.  – Today, virtually nothing remains of the parts of the facility, which were completed before the end of the war. The area has been under preservation order since 2011. 

[1][2]

Start of construction / inauguration

Spring 1935 / non-completed

Architect

Albert Speer, Berlin

Name historical

“Reichsthingstätte” Bückeberg

Historical use

Reichserntedankfest” (Reich Harvest Thanksgiving Festival) 1933 – 1937. After 1935 with show drills by the Wehrmacht. [3][4]

Use today

A documentation- and learning site is located at the site of the former Thingstätte. It explores the grounds by means of a path network and information panels. 
https://www.dokumentation-bueckeberg.de/index.php


[1] Stommer, Rainer, Die inszenierte Volksgemeinschaft, Jonas-Verlag Marburg, 1985, page 233 f.

[2] Gelderblom, Bernhard, „The Reichsthingplatz / The Reichsstätte Bückeberg – Showplace oft he Reich´s Harvest Festival. The Aestheticization of Violence and Politics” , in: Bosse, Katharina, Thingstätten, Kerber-Verlag, Bielefeld, 2020, page 222 and also on this website: https://thingstaetten.info/en/bueckeberg-reichsthingstaette-the-aestheticization-of-violence-and-politics/

[3] Stommer, 1985, ibid.

[4] Gelderblom/ Bosse, 2020, ibid.

Brunswick-Nußberg / Lower Saxony


The Thingstätte in Brunswick was among the first 66 of the official construction program. It was built in an old quarry of the Nußberg not far from the city center. It formed an urban axis together with the cathedral, the tomb of Henry the Lion, the Landestheater and the city’s parade ground (the later “SA- Feld”), . Today, the Thing site has fallen into disrepair and is hardly visible except for a few steps.[1]

Begin of construction / inauguration
March 21st 1934 / Aug 18th 1935
                                   
Architects / Construction
Fritz Schaller, Ernst Zinsser, Berlin / Robert Dirichs, Brunswick
                                   
Historic Name
Ceremonial Site on the Nußberg
            
Historic Usage

Aug 18th 1935„Übergabespiel“ by Karl Fischer
Aug 18th 1935Thingplay „Ewiges Volk“ (Eternal people) by Wolfram Brockmeier with music by Karl Wittkopp
1936Several rallies
1937 – 1939
runswick Festival with a total of 11 different performances, including “Alkestis” by Christoph Willibald Gluck
1937 (Brunswick Festival)„Frankenburger Würfelspiel“ by Eberhard Wolfgang Möller
1938 (Brunswick Festival)„Nibelungen“ I +IIby Friedrich Hebbel
1939 (Brunswick Festival)„Hochverräter“ (high traitor) by Curt Langenbeck
Beethoven’s 9.th Symphony
Song and dance play„Faith and Beauty“
May 14. – 24.1939

May 19th 1939 and May 20th 1939 
4th Reichsführer camp of the Hitler Youth
In the context of it:
„Schlacht der weißen Schiffe“ (Battle of the White Ships) byHenrik Herse

[2]


Contemporary usage
Recreation area, wooded

Further info:
A war memorial in the form of a “blood witness memorial” was to be erected as a classically intended counterpart to the Thing site and the peripheral ensemble described above, as a stylization of Nazi martyrdom. As a kind of Nazi cathedral, it was to be the crowning glory of the overall construction measures. Due to the lack of financial means on the eve of the Second World War, this project was no longer realized.. [3]


[1] Stommer, Rainer, Die inszenierte Volksgemeinschaft, Jonas- Verlag Marburg, 1985, p. 209 f.

[2] ibid.

[3] Bein, Reinhard, Zeitzeichen. Stadt und Land Braunschweig 1930–1945, Döring-Verlag Braunschweig, 2000, 
p. 11


Borna / Saxony

With the laying of the foundation stone on 11.08.1934 Borna was part of the first building program of the Reichsverband.[5]With its semi-circular auditorium, the Thingplatz is based on the classical ancient theater and was often compared in Nazi literature to the facility at the Reichsparteitagsgelände. [6]The Thingplatz in Borna is one of the few that have been used until today since their inauguration, although not continously. Admittedly, no events were held here during the war, but at the time of the GDR the building was again used for events.[1]

Begin of construction / inauguration
1934 / Aug 31st 1935
                                   
Architect
Fritz Schaller, Berlin
                                               
Name historic / contemporary
At first “Thingplatz”, after 1936 „Stätte der Volksgemeinschaft“ (Site of the People’s Community) / from 1949 „Volksplatz“ (People’s Square)
            
Historic Usage

Aug 31st 1935„Ein Thingplatz wurde gebaut“ (A Thingstätte was built) by A. Schroeder on the official opening of the Thing site
1936Mid-summer Play by A. Schroeder
1938„Dornröschen“ Sleeping Beauty with school children from all the schools in Borna[2]
June 04.-11.1939„Würfelspiel“ (planned)
Aug 26th 1939„Tannenberg“ by Basner (planned)

[3]

Contemporary Usage

Numerous events for children, film shows and open-air concerts

Immediately after re-unification the area was not in use, but in 1994 the Society for the Preservation and Promotion of the People’s Square was founded, which advanced its renewed use. Nowadays various types of events are cultivated, especially diverse parties and concerts.

[4]  


Further Info:

After the Second World War, theater, orchestra and sports events were again held on the Volksplatz, in addition to what were now anti-fascist rallies. Since the 1960s, many international films were shown here as part of the summer festival, which could not otherwise be seen on GDR state television. While the square was initially out of use after the fall of the Wall, the “Association for the Preservation and Operation of the Volksplatz” was founded in 1994, which promoted its renewed use.[7] Today, various event formats are cultivated on the square, especially various parties and concerts. In addition, a summer cinema is held regularly, following on from the summer festivals of GDR times.[8]


[1] Bergner, Thomas, 75 Jahre Volksplatz in Borna, in: Bornaer Stadtjournal, Heft 16/10, Erscheinungsdatum: 24.08.2010.

[2] Bergner, 2010, ebd.

[3] Stommer, Rainer, Die inszenierte Volksgemeinschaft, Jonas- Verlag Marburg, 1985, S. 208.

[4] Verein zur Erhaltung und Betreibung des Volksplatzes Borna e. V., Webpräsenz: https://www.volksplatz.de/ [abgerufen am 17.03.2020].

[5] Weihsmann, Helmut, Bauen unterm Hakenkreuz, Promedia- Verlag Wien, 1998, S. 202.

[6] Stommer, 1985, ebd.; Weihsmann, 1998, ebd.

[7] Bergner, 2010, ebd.

[8] Verein zur Erhaltung und Betreibung des Volksplatzes Borna e. V., Webpräsenz: https://www.volksplatz.de/ [abgerufen am 17.03.2020].


Bochum- Wienkopp/ NRW

The open-air stage Wienkopp, located opposite the observatory Bochum, of which only a few fragments are recognizable today, is an interesting feature in many respects: It had already existed since 1931 and was constructed by an association led by volunteers, which was close to Catholic circles. In 1933 alone, 42 performances were staged in front of 82,000 visitors, making the open-air theater one of the most successful in the Reich. These numbers could not be repeated during the Nazi regime; efforts to convert the open-air stage into a Thing site failed.[1]

Inauguration: 1931
                                   
Architect
Unknown
                                               
Name (historic)
open-air stage Wienkopp
            
Usage (historic)

1931“Parsifal” in the adaptation by Macholin[1]
1932Passion Play, 80,000 visitors[2]
1933“Jedermann” in the adaptation by C. Niessen, 42 performances, 82,000 visitors[3]
1934Repetition of the Passion Play[4]
Ende Mai 1934„Volk bricht auf“ (the people’s awakening) by Herbert Böhme[5]

[
Further Info:

 https://www.waz.de/staedte/bochum/linden-dahlhausen/lindens-grosse-buehne-id3567930.html

The construction of the open-air stage had already been initiated in 1931 by the Linden pastor Heinrich Ostermann, who knew how to use the advantageous location and the natural acoustics in the best possible way.[7] After occasional great successes in the years 1931 – 1934, the religious orientation of the open-air plays was no longer tolerated by the Nazi rulers.[8] After the supporting association, the Freilichtspiele Wienkopp e.V., became insolvent in 1934[9] and was finally dissolved by the Nazi regime on December 12, 1935,[10] the open-air stage was also no longer used. Attempts by the Reichsbund to take over the stage, however, failed due to the slow processing time of the city of Bochum.[11] The stage was then sold to the Reichsbund.

After the end of the war, Passion Plays were held for the last time on the rebuilt open-air stage in 1949. Eventually, however, further use was abandoned for economic reasons.

[12]


[1] Stommer, Rainer, Die inszenierte Volksgemeinschaft, Jonas-Verlag Marburg, 1985, p. 228.

[2] Frömgen, Gisbert, Lindens große Bühne, WAZ, 16.08.2010, Link: https://www.waz.de/staedte/bochum/linden-dahlhausen/lindens-grosse-buehne-id3567930.html [accessed on March 17th 2020].

[3] Frömgen, 2010, ibid.

[4] Stommer, 1985,ibid.

[5] Boebers-Süßmann, Jürgen, Die Passionsspiele lockten einst Tausende nach Bochum, Der Westen, 25.09.2016, Link: https://www.derwesten.de/staedte/bochum/passionsspiele-lockten-einst-tausende-nach-bochum-id12219901.html [accessed on March 17th 2020].

[6] Stommer, 1985, ibid.

[7] Frömgen, 2010, ibid.

[8] Boebers-Süßmann, 2016, ibid.

[9] Stommer, 1985, ibid.

[10] Boebers-Süßmann, 2016, ibid.

[11] Stommer, 1985, ibid.

[12] Frömgen, 2010, ibid.


Bochum- Wattenscheid/ NRW

Due to the construction method and time period characteristic for Thingstätte, the “festival square” laid out in the city garden is also interpreted as one. Neither was the site noted in the major construction program, nor was any money from Berlin involved. As “welfare work for the unemployed” it was built independently by the city. With its three-part stage system, the Thingstätte can seat 3,000 people.

Today it is regularly used as an open-air stage mainly for concerts [1]

Start of construction / Inauguration         
May 15th 1934 / July 4th 1936
                        
Architect
Unknown
                                   
Designation historical / contemporary
Festival Square / Open Air Stage Wattenscheid
            
Nutzung historisch

July 5th 1936„Oratorium der Arbeit“ (Oratorio of labor) by Georg Böttcher

[2]

Use contemporary
Concerts, open air events

https://www.freilichtbuehne-wattenscheid.de/



[1] Stommer, Rainer, Die inszenierte Volksgemeinschaft, Jonas-Verlag Marburg, 1985, p. 240

[2] Ibid.

Bielefeld/ NRW

This Thingstätte was not part of the official Reichs construction program from 1934. It did not have an open-air stage. It was intended to serve as a pilgrimage site for Horst Wessel, who was stylized as a martyr by the National Socialists, and thus became a prestige object for his native city of Bielefeld. In 1933, several entrepreneurs donated the memorial stone in the Teutoburg Forest near what was then the “Eiserner Anton” restaurant. In 1945, the memorial stone weighing over 20 tons was stolen by unknown persons. Today a stone staircase leads to the hill at the place where the memorial stone once stood. A ridge trail crosses the site[1]


Date of inauguration: Oct 8th 1933
                                   
Architect
Unknown
                                                           
Name
Horst- Wessel- Stone
            
Nutzung historisch

Oct 8th 1933Inauguration of the commemorative stone
1934 – 1938 yearly on Feb 23rdCeremony with wreath-laying on the anniversary of Wessel’s death
Oct 9th 1937„Horst- Wessel-Day“ on the 30th birthday of the „Martyr“

[2]

Further Info:

For the inauguration and the “Horst Wessel Day” in 1937, the entire city including the surrounding area was involved. Everything that could be mustered in the way of people and material was brought in to give the event the character of a mass event and the necessary solemnity.

In addition to the memorial stone, a commemorative plaque was placed at Horst Wessel’s birthplace in Bielefeld. In 1939, a bronze statue in his likeness was erected opposite the Bielefeld NSDAP headquarters. The commemorative plaque disappeared in 1945 just as suddenly as the memorial stone on the hill, the statue was already removed during the war and the material was presumably used for the manufacture of war equipment.[4]

Hitler himself never visited Bielefeld, which was a great disappointment for contemporaries. Despite the renaming of several places and buildings in Bielefeld to “Hitler” and the Horst Wessel marches: the then Reich Chancellor only came close to Bielefeld. On July 8, 1933, about three months before the inauguration of the prestige project, he landed at an airfield near the city, but only to continue his journey directly to Dortmund.

[5]


[1] Kühne, Hans-Jörg, „Böse Orte“. Unbeachtete Mahnmale des Nationalsozialismus in Bielefeld, in: Ravensberger Blätter: Organ des Historischen Vereins für die Grafschaft Ravensberg e.V. Band 2, Bielefeld 2017, S. 22 f.

[2] Kühne, 2017, S. 22

[3] Ebd.

[4] Kühne, 2017, S. 23

[5] Kühne, 2017, S. 24

Summary of the historical article “Der Braunschweiger Thingplatz” (The Thing site in Brunswick) by Baurat (building commissioner) Robert Dirichs, published on October 9, 1935 in the “Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung vereinigt mit der Zeitschrift für Bauwesen, issue 41, p. 81-85”. The journal contained news of the Reich and state authorities during National Socialism, it was published in the Ministry of Finance.

In March 1934, construction of a Thing site began in Braunschweig. At that time, the Thing movement was still very young, which is why the then Brunswick building commissioner and author of the article Robert Dirichs attributed special importance to the construction of the site for the further development of the Thing idea. A quarry on the Nußberge, whose stones were used for church buildings in the Middle Ages, was chosen as the location for the site. At this place all historical, geographical and propagandistic demands of the National Socialists were fulfilled.

After 1.5 years of construction, the Thingplatz opened. The architecture essentially corresponded to the Nazis’ ideal conception of the Thingplatz movement. It was divided into three parts: the square for the spectators, the stage and the parade ground for the participants. The magazine report particularly emphasizes the fact that the individual sections were not clearly separated from one another; rather, the subsections merged into one another. As a result, the focus was not on the spectacle, but on the gatherings as a “Volksgemeinschaft.”

Further information from the point of view of the National Socialists on the Braunschweig Thingplatz can be found in the article “Der Braunschweiger Thingplatz” (The Braunschweig Thing Square) of October 9, 1935, written by the then building councilor Robert Dirichs. Archive: Katharina Bosse

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