Background: This is the account of the Political Leaders Meeting
at the 1936 Nuremberg Rally. It was held at night, with searchlights surrounding
the field. The effect was most impressive according to contemporary accounts.
The source: “Der Schwur unter dem Lichtdom,” 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. 170-177.
The Oath Under the Cathedral
at the 1936 Nuremberg Party
The Nuremberg Party Rally continued Friday evening with the powerful
roll call of political leaders. As the setting sun cast its red glow over
the towers of Nuremberg, 90,000 of Adolf Hitler’s political followers
and 25,000 flags marched in wide columns to the Duzendteich. All Nuremberg
was on its feet to see the impressive spectacle.
Just before 7:30 when it was nearly dark, a floodlight shoots heavenward.
The small spotlight’s beam reveals more than 200 enormous swastika flags
that fly from 12 meter flagpoles in the evening breeze. Suddenly one realizes
the enormous size of the field and drinks in the unforgettable picture.
More lights illuminate the flawless white marble platform, an unforgettably
beautiful sight. All who see the splendid sight stand still and breathe
quietly. The first of the Führer’s large buildings on the Nuremberg
Reich Party Rally grounds is seen in all its beauty.
More lights shoot across the field, revealing the endless brown columns,
showing their movements, until suddenly, at a command, the 90,000 are
A festive mood fills all, as if they knew what an experience awaits them.
But what actually happens surpasses all their expectations.
Orders blare from the loudspeakers, hurried automobiles dash here and
there. Shortly before 8, the spotlights at the south fade. It is the direction
from which the Führer will come. The 500 pupils of the party school
Ordensburg Vogelsang have entered just before, displaying perfect order,
and taken their position before the main platform.
The voice of Dr. Ley comes over the loudspeaker: “Attention! The
Führer is here!” The shouts that always accompany the Führer
resound from the Dutzendteich train station. The colonnade slowly circles
the field, then suddenly as the shouts of those on the other side
of the platform announce the Führer’s arrival 180,000 people
look to the heavens. 150 blue spotlights surge upward hundreds of meters,
forming overhead the most powerful cathedral that mortals have ever seen.
There, at the entrance, we see the Führer. He, too, stands for several
moments looking upward, then turns and walks, followed by his aides, past
the long, long columns, 20 deep, of the fighters for his idea. An ocean
of Heil-shouts and jubilation surrounds him.
Several stars shine through the deep blue curtain of the cathedral of
light, and the flags of the German nation flutter in the soft wind.
The Führer has reached his place. The loudspeaker thunders: “Flags.
Forward, March!” We know that 25,000 flags are to enter. We look
out and see thousands of golden points coming from the direction of the
tribune on the far side. They move forward, the red of the flags appears,
the black swastikas on the white background glow against the brown uniforms.
Now the flags cascade in, through eight side entrances, with another
flood coming in at the wide middle entrance. Spotlights illuminate the
flags at the head, casting a silver glow that intensifies as it nears
Finally, finally, as the masses gaze as if transfixed, the flood of flags
comes to a rest. Fanfares sound into the night, and 500 pupils from the
school at Burg Vogelsang take the oath for us all, for all Germans:
We have come
For the good
And to renew the holy oath.
Blazing flames hold us together
May the times
Bring what they will,
We are a young people ever ready.
No one shall take this faith
From those who are dedicated to Germany.
When we pass on,
Something new will come
Today and forever more.
Today and forever more each repeats it to himself, and holds firmly
“We remember the dead of our movement and the Great War.”
The flags sink as the song of good comrades plays softly.
Would that you could be with us, you who gave your lives on Europe’s
battlefields, who gave your blood on the streets in the struggle for Germany.
If only you could see what in only four years has become
of your Germany. The heart grows heavy, old wounds reappear then
a voice orders “Raise the flags! Heads high! Sadness may not overwhelm
us! Germany must live!”
Turning toward the Führer, Reich Organization Leader Dr. Ley
speaks the words of the oath to the gathered formation:
My Führer! The political leaders of the party stand before you.
Millions more of them throughout the country join us in this festive hour
and listen with us. They are men of every class and occupation: workers,
craftsmen, farmers, professionals, They and their flags have come from
everywhere. My Führer! These men want to tell you how much the people
love and honor you. They want to see you and hear you. That gives each
of them strength for the coming year.
These men thank you, My Führer, as do we all, because you, My Führer,
believed in us at a time when all were in despair. No one besides you,
My Führer, can take the credit for having saved Germany. You alone
saved Germany. (Jubilant agreement.)
When this people collapsed because its leaders failed and as fate asked
each of us “Do you believe in Germany,” the best of us despaired
and the others chased after the false gods of the economy and money. No
one was able to answer without hesitation: “Yes, fate, I believe!”
Only you, My Führer, said then: “Yes, fate, I believe in Germany
and in the German worker!” (Renewed agreement from the masses.) These
men thank you for that. The whole nation thanks you, because at that time
you did not doubt the German people, but believed in them.”
I wish to express our thanks and everything that we carry in our hears
in the following confession of faith:
In this sacred hour, as the endless dome towers over us and into eternity,
this we pledge: We believe in the Lord God in heaven who created us, who
leads and protects us, and who has sent you, My Führer, to free Germany.
That we believe, My Führer. (Thunderous applause demonstrates the
agreement of the masses.)
Now the Führer speaks to his political leaders.
My party comrades! Men of the National Socialist movement!
We meet here for the fourth time. How this field has changed! So has
our Reich! And so, we can say with even greater pride, has our people!
We have experienced in these four years the miracle of a resurrection
of a defeated and demoralized and suppressed people. Today this people
stands before us once more, restored in outlook and heart.
Each time we come to this city, we can look back on a year of work, but
also on a year of accomplishments. Three years ago as we met the world
was in motion. There may have been some who thought the wheel of history
could be rolled back. A year later, two years ago, we had just taken steps
necessary to preserve the strength of the movement. A year ago the threading
clouds of enemy opposition hung over Germany, foreign rejection and threatening
misunderstandings. Now we are here once more and all of us, you and I
and the nation, know that the time of inner turmoil is as much behind
us as is the time of external threats. (Stormy applause from hundreds
As we have come together here, so today the German people has also come
together. As you have marched here in columns beneath your flags, my flag
bearers, the German people are behind you! I have reminded the German
people in my proclamation of the wonders of the past four years. We are
reminded at this festival what has become of the German people.
What a spirit seized our people! How proud and manly it has once more
become. It has overcome all the powers of destruction, collapse and dishonor,
and has found once again the path to honor! Today we can again be proud
of our people! This miracle that has renewed our people, my fighting comrades,
is not a gift from heaven given to those unworthy of it.
Never has there been a movement that struggled with more fanatic, devoted,
sacrificial commitment to national resurrection than we have shown in
the past eighteen years! (Stormy applause.)
We have fought for our people for the souls of millions, of our workers,
our farmers, our citizens! We have fought as one fights only for the most
priceless gift that this world has to offer. What have we given over these
years in work, in sacrifice, in devotion, in fanaticism, in contempt of
death! We were successful not only because I was your leader, but rather
far more because you were my followers. (Enthusiastic jubilation.)
We feel once more in this moment the miracle that brought us together!
You heard once the voice of a man that moved your hearts, that awakened
you, and you followed this voice. You followed for years without even
seeing the bearer of the voice himself. You heard only the voice and
The miracle of our coming together moves us all. Not all of you can see
me, and I cannot see all of you. But I feel you, and you feel me! The
belief in the greatness of our people has made us small people large,
it has made us poor people rich, it has made wavering, cowardly, anxious
men brave and courageous, the blind to see. It has brought us together!
You have come to this city from your small village, from your market
towns, from your cities, from mines and factories, from behind the plow.
You have come from your daily routine and from your labors for Germany
to share this feeling: We are together, we are it and it is us, and we
are now Germany! (A wave of enthusiasm flows across the field.) It is
splendid to know that we are gathered here as representatives of the German
nation. Everyone knows: These 140,000 have but one thought and their heart,
one longing, they all think the same. That is the source of our movement’s
strength that has brought us through all that fate had to offer toward
the goal for which we strive, and which is now in reach.
It is wonderful for me to be your Führer.
Who can be prouder of his followers than he who knows that they are moved
by nothing but the purest idealism!
Who forced you to follow me? What could I offer you, what could I gave
you? We together agreed on one thing: on the struggle for a great shared
idea! We grew in size and strength until we were the victors.
For years I could greet you only as my fighting comrades. Today I greet
you as victors. You have built a new home for our people, and have given
those who dwell in that house a new spirit and new meaning. All those
who may think that they can shake this state, or even bring it to collapse,
should take note. They should not deceive themselves! If our old enemies
and opponents should seek to attack us once more, our battle flags will
fly high and they will learn respect for us! (Renewed thundering shouts
of Heil across the wide plain.)
They will have to learn that Germany is no place for them.
We had no prayer but this during our long years of struggle: Lord, give
our people peace at home and abroad! Our generation has experienced so
much that it is understandable why we long for peace. We want to work,
to build our Reich, to build it according to our ideas and not those of
the Bolshevist Jews. (Roaring applause.)
We want to work for the future of the children of our people, for a future
that will not only be safe for them, but easier as well. We have so much
behind us that we have only one request for a gracious and good Providence:
“Spare our children that which we have gone through!”
We desire nothing but peace and quiet in which to do our work. May others
have the same wish, for we have not hesitated to give up our rest when
it was necessary to deal with internal troublemakers. We have not aged
during our struggle. We are as young as ever. What the years added our
With and behind our flags march our new youth.
We are happy and proud to see them. A new generation of leaders is maturing.
What fate’s hard process of selection graciously granted us, that we want
to guarantee for the future through our own tough selection.
To be a National Socialist is to be a man, it is to be a fighter, it
is to be brave and courageous and sacrificial. We will be that for all
In this fourth Reich Party Rally since the seizure of power we can look
calmly to the future. We are not careless and foolish. History has given
us hard lessons. But we are calm and self confident. I am so when I see
you. I know that there is a unique movement behind me, a wonderful organization
of men and women. I see before me endless columns of the flags of our
new Reich. I make this prophecy to you:
This Reich has the first days of its youth behind it. It will grow in
the coming centuries, becoming strong and powerful! These flags will be
borne by ever new generations of our people. Germany is healthy once more!
Our people is reborn!
I greet you, my old fighting comrades, my flag bearers, my standard bearers
of a new history, and I greet you and thank you for all the loyalty and
faith that you have given me over the long years.
I greet you as the hope of the present and the guarantee of our future.
And I especially greet the youth who are present. Become men like those
you see before you!
Fight as they have fought! Be upright and determined, fear no one and
do your duty!
If you do so, the Lord God will never leave our people.
An enormous wave of jubilation fills the dark field as the Führer
ends his speech with these words.
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