Background: The Nazi Party put out an official account of the
Nuremberg Rallies each year from 1933 to 1938. This is the section dealing
with the Wehrmacht’s part of the 1936 rally. After a description of the
mock battles, Field Marshall von Blomberg and Hitler speak.
The source: 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. 279-288
The Wehrmacht on the Zeppelin
After the series of marches that each day give the Reich Party
Rally its most visible form, the Day of the Wehrmacht on the
Zeppelin Field brings the week to an end.
To give the hundreds of thousands of party rally participants
the opportunity to see the Wehrmacht, there were two parades
on Monday. The first was at 8:00 a.m. Minister of War General
Field Marshall von Blomberg gave a short speech to the troops
and presented them with their new standards. The Führer
was present for the second parade in the afternoon. The Führer
and Supreme Commander spoke to his soldiers. A gathering of all
participating military units on the Zeppelin Field and a solemn
flag-lowering ceremony at midnight at the Führer’s hotel
completed the Day of the Wehrmacht.
The enormous stands surrounding the Zeppelin Field were of
course packed by early morning with those who were eagerly awaiting
the military spectacle. The fall air was fine and sunny. The
many swastika flags were supplemented by the Reich Battle Flag.
Many of the viewers were not familiar with the nature of our
modern army. The program was designed to give them an overview
of the various military units and their role in the army as a
whole. Of course, the space available did not allow for genuine
military maneuvers, since the troops were restricted to a relatively
The loudspeakers announced the beginning of the parade at
8:00 a.m. sharp. The Luftwaffe demonstrated its capacities and
duties. Reconnaissance aircraft appeared high above, with another
group soon coming from the opposite direction. New formations
appeared a few minutes later, their deep drone audible from afar.
A fighter squadron flew low over the field. Behind them came
the “Hindenburg” squadron, followed by squadrons 153
and 155. Then came groups from the “General Wever”
and “Bölcke” squadrons.
The air is filled with the sounds of the large machines, flying
in precise formation about 100 meters above the ground.
Fighters fly over higher up. As the loudspeakers announce
that the first group belongs to the “Horst Wessel”
squadron, the cheers are so loud that one almost thinks that
they can be heard in the thundering planes. The “Richthofen”
and “Immelmann” squadrons also appear.
The fighter groups circle the field, and finally a group separates
to perform exercises. It is an amazing sight as the planes turn,
yet maintain their tight formation.
The formation breaks up. They circle the field and thenthe
leader dives toward the field. One machine after another follows,
plunging toward to the ground. Then the machines climb again
and resume their formation.
As the planes disappear over the horizon, light and heavy
flak batteries enter the field. They rapidly set up positions.
As soon as the barrels are pointed skywards, a squadron of dive
bombers attempts an attack.
The light battery fires furiously. The guns are turned to
follow the planes as they head off. The heavy batteries too begin
their work as a new attack by squadrons at high elevation begins.
The noise is hellish, giving at least an idea of what reality
would be like.
The trucks of the flak battery now leavethey were camouflaged during
the attack and new vehicles enter the field. An aerial parade of
all formations closes this part of the exhibition. In close formation,
the groups fly by at low altitude.
Now modern cavalry units conduct military exercises. A trumpet corps
gallops in through the main gate across from the main platform and takes
position beneath it. Units of the Tenth Cavalry Regiment enter from the
other three gates, meeting in the center and marching to the main platform.
They stop briefly before galloping out through the rear entrance.
The exhibition is over in a few minutes, yet what effort and
training were necessary for such a precision appearance by a
thousand horses and riders.
Next come exercises by a light artillery battalion. Scarcely
have they taken their positions when the first command to fire
sounds. The fire toward the right. Another command, and they
strike the guns and leave at a gallop.
Scarcely is the field empty when reconnaissance cavalry race across the
field from the east. They are followed by the advance forces. Red skyrockets
rise. The scouts have seen enemy tank units to the west. The guns take
up position, and open fire against the enemy attack. The cavalry advance
can continue. The scouts again are at the lead. The cavalry units are
at the front, followed by anti-tank guns. The signal troops that maintain
contact between units are off to the side. They now march by. A machine
gun unit follows at the rear of each squadron. The cavalry artillery followed,
then the motorized portion of each unit, consisting of signal and engineering
troops, who protect against subsequent enemy tank attacks. More anti-tank
guns follow in the rear.
The whole exercise provides a clear picture of how modern
mobile troops work together with cavalry and motorized forces,
and how within the regiment various groups have specialized tasks.
A motorized reconnaissance unit (4) and a gun battalion (Gun
Regiment 1) attack an enemy position. The previous excise demonstrated
the role of the cavalry. Here, men, horses and motors form a
new whole that shows how motorized units have taken on roles
formerly filled by the cavalry.
The two west gates, representing a narrow gap, are occupied by “red”
guns, light machine gun troops and anti-tank guns. Light and heavy reconnaissance
vehicles enter from the east gates and encounter fire from the position.
They are forced to retreat. A motorcycle company attacks the position
to open the way, supported by artillery.
Supported by machine guns and artillery fire, the company
gains ground. But they are still too weak to win the position.
Two further companies with artillery arrive. Trucks bring them
to the front. Reconnaissance armored vehicles are still needed.
The armored vehicles advance through the heavy fire and begin
chasing the enemy, who gradually gives way under concentrated
fire. The motorcycle company follows quickly behind. The guns
fire ahead of the trucks. The whole company begins again to advance.
The 1. Abteilung of a tank division begins maneuvers. Entering
from the central gate opposite the main platform, they spread
out before the platform and conduct various maneuvers. They form
two columns, and weave back and forth, which requires exact timing.
Forward and diagonal maneuvers follow. At the command that battle
is near, the heads of the gunners disappear from the turrets.
One hundred tanks fire a thundering salvo. The tanks roll past
the main platform and leave the field.
Maneuvers of the II. Motorized Artillery Regiment Jüterbog
follow, in company with Signal Battalion 14. The commander enters
the field, followed by his battery commander and the troops.
The artillery follows after. It consists of a 10-centimeter battery
and heavy and light field guns. The guns are spread about the
field. They are immediately camouflaged. They are ready to fire.
They begin firing. Meanwhile, radiomen from the signal corps
have arrived to maintain contact between the firing batteries,
the airmen and the commanding officers. Movement after movement
follows quickly. The batteries fire salvos and provide covering
fire. The radiomen leave. The trucks towing the guns return and
the formations leave the field.
The last part of the exhibition is a large mock battle. A strong defensive
position with machine guns and light artillery is established to the West.
It is defended with barbed wire and mine fields. The attackersthe
III. Infantry Regiment 11 enters from the east. The attack begins,
supported by heavy machine guns and artillery. The enemy answers with
heavy fire against the machine guns. The attackers work forward through
heavy fire. But the enemy position is too strong.
Tank units come to the support of the infantry, opening heavy
fire on the enemy position. The hellish noise reaches its high
point. Moving forward through the infantry, the tanks advance
despite heavy fire. They reach the minefields. Mines explode,
disabling some tanks. The second wave succeeds in reaching the
enemy position. They roll over the barbed wire. The enemy retreats,
and the riflemen follow behind the tanks to pursue the enemy.
After heavy combat, the enemy position is taken.
Enthusiastic cheering and applause thank the troops for their
work. Now the field is cleared for a parade of all the units.
Nearly 18,000 men march in through every gate. As the march finishes,
the infantry stands to the right of the platform, a detachment
of naval officers in the center, and to the left four regiments
of the Luftwaffe. Behind the navy in the center is the cavalry
regiment, then some of the motorized units, the artillery, the
anti-tank, flak, signal and armored units.
At a command, the ceremony begins. The officers draw their
daggers at the command “present weapons.” To the tune
of the “Frederick the Great March,” the flag bearers
march in, the musicians at the head, then three detachments each
with 30 flags of the old army. One detachment is from the army,
one from the navy, one from the Luftwaffe. The individual units
carry their new flags.
The flag bearers take up position before the main platform.
General Field Marshall von Blomberg
steps to the microphone and greets his soldiers: “Heil soldiers!”
“Heil!,” they reply. “At ease,” he replies, and begins
The Führer and Reich Chancellor gave the new Wehrmacht
its flags on 16 March 1936. A holy tradition has been given new
life. To your honor, the new flags and standards will be received
by loyal hands on the Day of the Wehrmacht at the Reich Party
Rally. They are a symbol of what you must protect and keep pure.
They are symbols of the honor of your units. They are a symbol
of military values. Your highest duty from now on is to follow
the flag both in life and in death.
After the General Field Marshall had called the supreme commanders
of the three services to give the flags to the units, the flag
bearers marched to their respective military units. The “Presentation
March” played as the three military commanders, General
Freiherr von Fritsch, Admiral Raeder and General Göring,
marched to their troops to ceremonially award the flags. They
held the cloth of the flag and extended their hand to the commander
of the relevant unit, who stood before the flag with drawn dagger.
The flag was then lifted, and both the supreme commander and
the commander saluted the holy flag. The unit had then received
its new field standard.
General Field Marshall von Blomberg spoke once more of the
man who built the new German Wehrmacht and who gave it its new
We think of the man who gave us our new field standards, and
to whom we are bound in unbreakable loyalty. Adolf Hitler, our
Führer and Reichs Chancellor, the Supreme Commander of the
German Wehrmacht, of our German people and fatherland: Sieg Heil!
The Wehrmacht and onlookers joined in enthusiastically singing
the song of the nation to end the military exhibition and flag
The Führer was greeted with loud cheers in the afternoon
as he and his associates arrived at the Zeppelin Field for the
second exhibition. Germany’s Führer received the love of
his German citizens, just as he had throughout the party rally.
The rising storm of enthusiasm was particularly powerful here,
as each German thanked the man who restored Germany’s military
strength and honor.
The exhibition followed the same course as in the morning.
Once again, everything worked perfectly. All 18,000 men worked
as if they were parts of a single huge machine.
As the troops were gathered on the field at the end of the
exhibition, the Führer stepped to the microphone.
The Führer to the Soldiers of the Third Reich
You have come to this place in Nuremberg for the third time!
For the first time, you carry the battle flag of the new Reich!
For the first time you hold in your hands your new regimental
We see in this scene the transformation that Germany, our
Germany, your Germany, has undergone.
The transformation is the result of a vast work of educating
our people, and no less work in every area of our national life.
We owe it to the untiring work and industry of our people
that we can stand here today in celebration. All this work would
be in vain if the Reich were not able to defend itself against
internal and external enemies. We are filled with pride today
at the results of our work for peace. Millions of people work
year in and year out in factories, workplaces, and offices for
these goals, and it is understandable and reasonable that they
are also ready to risk their lives to maintain what they have
That is why you have been called by the nation, my soldiers!
You are not asked to serve some extreme chauvinistic goal, but rather
to stand guard over our people! You stand watch over our Germany! As I
see you before me, I feel, I know, that this guard defends us against
all dangers and threats.
The German has always been a good soldier. The army you are a part of
carries the proudest traditions of the past. When Germany collapsed [in
1918], it was because of internal political failure.
Today, my young soldiers, Germany stands as straight as you
do. Germany is once more worthy of its soldiers, and I know that
you will be worthy soldiers of the Reich!
People, party and Wehrmacht are an indestructable sworn community!
Grave times may come. You will never waver, never lose course,
never prove cowardly! We all know that heaven is not gained by
half measures! Freedom has no use for cowards! The future belongs
to the brave alone!
What is demanded of you is only a fraction of what the past
demanded of us. We did our duty then, and you will do your duty
today. For the two years that I require you to serve Germany,
I will give you ten years in return! Each of you will become
healthier through your training than ever before. What you give
to the fatherland in your youth you will receive back when you
are old. You will be a healthy generation that is not trapped
in offices and factories, but are trained in the sun and fresh
air, steeled by exercise and hardened in character.
And believe me, Germany appreciates you, its soldiers!
The honor, admiration and love the old army had has been transferred
to you. And you will be worthy of it!
The nation expects no sacrifice of you that you are unwilling
Germany will never again suffer the tragic fate that we were
condemned to suffer!
Our fatherland, your Germany, your homeland and the homeland
of your children will be strong and great and happy. You will
defend the peace that protects our lives!
In this hour, we all join in affirming our German people,
the millions of working people in cities and the countryside,
in affirming the German Reich.
Our Germany: Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!
The Führer’s speech was constantly interrupted by applause.
When he finished, the crowd passionately sang the national anthem
and the “Horst Wessel Song.” Everyone knew that together
with the Führer, 18,000 German soldiers, and 250,000 onlookers,
they had experienced a celebration of German national community
and German honor.
The troops then marched out to parade before the Führer.
In the interval, the young Luftwaffe gave a unique demonstration
of its abilities. A group of 17 planes appeared on the horizon
in the precise formation of a swastika. The swastika flew over
the field and vanished over the horizon. Then came a second aerial
greeting: the airship “Hindenburg,” which had flown
over the Zeppelin field during the Luftwaffe’s exhibition, appeared
once more and flew low over the field. It returned and held position
over the field for a few minutes as the cheers of the crowd rose.
Lacking a better sign, thousands of handkerchiefs were waved
before the main platform. The military parade began a few minutes
General Field Marshall von Blomberg and the three supreme
commanders of the services joined their troops at the entrance
to the Zeppelin Field, and took their places at the front to
march past the Führer. The Führer and Reich Chancellor
had taken position on a small platform. He greeted the General
Field Marshall von Blomberg and the three service heads, who
stood beside him. The first flag battalion (the Infantry Training
Battalion Döberitz) marched past. The onlookers rose repeatedly
to clap and cheer. The Party Rally of Honor now had its military
The new German Wehrmacht was created because hundreds of thousands,
millions, of German men and women swore allegiance in unbreakable
idealism to the flag of Adolf Hitler, having faith in a new Germany.
After days of marches and meetings of our political soldiers
at the Reich Party Rally, the parade of the Wehrmacht before
its supreme commander was the last visible result of our battle
and our triumph. As this man stood on the platform to greet the
new banners of his army, his face and his will united the hearts
of hundreds of thousands. He united the people, party and Wehrmacht
in a single goal: to serve Germany’s honor.
[Page copyright © 1998 by Randall Bytwerk. No unauthorized
reproduction. My e-mail address is available on the FAQ
Go to the 1936 Nuremberg
Go to the 1933-1945
the German Propaganda Archive Guide Page.