Transcript video Bad Segeberg – history and contemporary use of the open air theater built by the Nazis

Interview 2014 about the history of the “Freilichtbühne am Kalkberg” as a “Feierstätte” built by the Nazis in 1937.

My name is Claudia Picher.
My name is Dipl. Ing. Peter Zastrow.
My name is Ekkehard Bartsch.

Claudia Picher: I work as a falconer and I am here at the Karl May Festival for the fourth year in a row.

Peter Zastrow: I was a vocational school teacher here in Bad Segeberg and have been involved with the history of Bad Segeberg for over 20 years.

Ekkehard Bartsch: I am a bookseller by profession and have been involved with the Karl May Festival here in Bad Segeberg for over 30 years. 

Peter Zastrow: The open-air theater itself has a very interesting history because it used to be a quarry. For over a thousand years, gypsum was mined here to build up the cities of Hamburg or the great cities in northern Europe with it. 

In 1933, the city fathers wrote to the Reich Theater Ministry in Berlin asking if a Thingplatz could not be financed and built. Thus came the Berlin architect Professor Doctor Schaller, who presented a plan for 20,000 people. In all of Germany 400 Thingstätte were to be built, in Schleswig-Holstein alone, eight were planned. The people of Segeberg wanted to be early adopters, so in May 1934, although the planning had not yet been completed, the groundbreaking ceremony was held at great expense. In September 1934, things got going. The plan was that the Reich Labor Service would be involved. A maximum of 120 people were employed. The Thingplatz was built, with interruptions, from 1934 to 1937. 

After the war, Professor Schaller settled in Cologne and was able to design new churches there, since the Catholic Church had a new liturgy. And this followed the same principle: the leader, that was the pulpit and the memorial the altar. In the roundels of the ancient amphitheaters, one could accommodate a great many people and they wanted to do the same here. For every 150,000 inhabitants, be they counties or cities, the seats should hold 3,000 to 10,000 visitors for a festive gathering, and 5,000 to 20,000 visitors for rallies.

Ekkehard Bartsch: In Nazi Germany, the attitude towards the author Karl May was ambivalent. On the one hand, they tried to promote everything that had to do with heroes and hero-worship. On the other hand, there were also many things in Karl May’s writings that went ideologically against the grain, especially the pacifist thoughts. Also, the Christian tendency of his books. All this did not suit them and there were various demands, in 1933 and 1934, to ban Karl May and to have his books burned as well. This did not happen because leading representatives of the Nazi regime stood up for Karl May, especially the Minister of Culture Schemm in Bavaria. And when it turned out that Hitler himself liked to read Karl May, this was of course an alibi to say that Karl May must stay.Claudia Picher: This is my fourth year in a row here at the Karl-May-Festival in Bad Segeberg. My job is to work with the birds of prey and it’s different every year because every year someone else is in the play. Usually “Winnetou”’s eagle is there, like this year Cliff. Cliff is an American bald eagle, 15 years old, a male with a bodyweight of three kilograms and a wingspan of two meters. Cliff is “Winnetou”’s eagle again this year, but this time he lands on “Winnetou”’s hand for the first time and gets to show him how best to cope with his current living situation. “Winnetou” finds himself in a predicament and tries to ask his horse and his eagle for advice.

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