Leni Riefenstahl, Hinter den Kulissen des Reichsparteitag-Films, 1935

Cover without obi-band, Cover with obi-band

Cover without obi-band, Cover with obi-band

 

Hinter den Kulissen des Reichsparteitag-Films von Leni Riefenstahl

The title of this book is slightly misleading, as this is not a Leni Riefenstahl book as such, rather a book about the making of the most notorious Nazi propaganda film. A book that Riefenstahl obviously felt uncomfortable with after 1945.
It was published to celebrate the release of Riefenstahl’s film Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will), a ‘documentary’ of the 1934 Nuremberg Party rally. Although not her first (Riefenstahl had already filmed Der Sieg des Glaubens (Victory of Faith) for the Nazi Party in 1933), this was certainly Riefenstahl’s largest undertaking as a film director until then. Backed by a crew of around 18 cameramen, with a hefty budget and a wealth of technical innovations, Triumph des Willens was a massive undertaking. The movie premiered in Berlin in 1935.
Riefenstahl always maintained that this was an objective documentary, and that she merely captured what she saw. Despite those assertions, it was recently discovered that several close-up shots were staged and studio-filmed.

Riefenstahl writes in her Memoirs (Albrecht Knaus Verlag, Munich, 1987 p. 264/265) that the text was written by Ernst Jäger together with the publicity department of the UFA (Universum Film AG) and published under her name. The actual book however has no reference or credit to the UFA. In this preface “Riefenstahl” explains that the project was initiated by Adolf Hitler, and “she” thanks Dr. Göbbels and the mayor of the city of Nürnberg for their support of this project. In the twenty-page diary-style introduction “Riefenstahl” relates some of the difficulties involved in the pre-production, while blatantly praising the Führer and his ideology. The preface also credits the 18 cameramen and their assistants, as well as many others involved in the making of the film.

In an age where ‘Behind the scenes’ and ‘Making of’ productions are commonplace, it is easy to overlook how unusual this book actually is. It contains photographs of most aspects of the movie’s production and the events it portrayed. Riefenstahl appears on almost every other page, posing with a cameraman or mingling jovially with Hitler and other National Socialist party leaders. It certainly appears as if the purpose of the book is to promote Leni Riefenstahl herself, as much as the film or the NSDAP. The reproduction of the photographs is good, but the layout is quite  conventional, with the exception of a few full-scale photographs. Short captions and explanatory texts accompany the images.

The book was published with soft cover and dust jacket. Although I have seen cloth-bound hard cover copies offered for sale, I strongly believe that these are rebound soft cover versions, with the dust jacket mounted on to card.

This is undoubtedly one of the rarest Riefenstahl books, with immense historical value.

The book was republished in English as Behind the Scenes of the National Party Convention Film by International Historic Films, Inc. 2010.
One page preface by Leni Riefenstahl written in December 1934.

20 pages introduction.

Yellow obi band with printed endorsement text and signature by Adolf Hitler.

Published by the Zentralverlag der NSDAP. Franz Eher Nachf., GmbH., München 1935

Soft cover with dust jacket (attached on spine) and obi band.

20.3 x 25.6 cm

106 pages (Including front paper)

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