Transcript video Bad Schmiedeberg – Interview about the history of the Nazi open air theater

Interview with Felix Saul, City Chronicler, Bad Schmiedeberg 2015 about the history of the “Thingstätte” built by the Nazis in 1934.

My name is Felix Saul, I am the town chronicler in Bad Schmiedeberg and I have been keeping the chronicle as a volunteer for more than 40 years. The architect of the Thingplatz was Ludwig Moshamer. The Moshamer family has provided me with drawings of the Thingplatz. The Thingplatz Bad Schmiedeberg was inaugurated on Sept 16th, 1934. There were two labor service departments in the town at that time, which started work on the south-western edge of the town near a water tower built in 1908. The area is forested today, but it used to be without trees. It sloped from south to north with a view of Bad Schmiedeberg. It was to be a facility with 2,100 seats and a front area with room for 7,000 people. The measurements in the documents show the size of the Thingstätte, although we are not aware that there would have been a historic Germanic Thing at this site in earlier times. Apart from the inauguration ceremony of September 1934, no other performances or other events are known. After 1945, the benches were dismantled and burned because Schmiedeberg had to accommodate about 10,000 refugees. With only 3000 inhabitants, firing and catering were therefore priorities. Later, nature reclaimed the site and it is no longer used in any way. 

At the end of this cornfield were the stages and there, where the terrain rises, were the rows of seats up to the height of this small water tower. Such a Thing was used for theatrical events in the spirit of the Nazi era, to present something to the people. One created also parking lots for buses, passenger cars were not as common as today. One could travel from Leipzig, 50km away, or Halle, 60km away, by bus or via the railroad connection of Bad Schmiedeberg. One wanted to create a place in the Central German area, to introduce the “German citizen” to allegedly Germanic cultural assets. 

If you talk to the older citizens of the town, Bad Schmiedeberg has always been a bit conservative. There was no majorly present NSDAP that would have been leading here. Bad Schmiedeberg was more German-national, it was and still is a dreamy little spa town, always small-town, quiet and conservative.

I was born in 1949. In the early 1950s, we used the site as an off-road playground because those stage mounds and concrete supports were still visible, but without the slatted frames to sit on. It has also been used by the school as an off-road playground, but without ambitions to build an open-air stage there again. In 1953, plans were made by the town to use the former Thingstätte as an open-air stage, but it never came to pass. It then fell into oblivion.

I have over 500 picture postcards of Bad Schmiedeberg. One shows the Thingstätte at the time of its completion. There are no official or private photo documents or postcards of the inauguration. Nothing has been published in the local press of the time either.

I think they did a purge in the town archives in 1945 and all documents from 1933 to 1945 were either destroyed or probably had to be turned in. They also did not reappear in the district archives after the fall of communism. I rather think that destruction of the documents as well as the newspapers took place because one wanted to have nothing more to do with it. 


Interview with Felix Saul
Chronicler of the City of Bad Schmiedeberg

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