Background: The Nazis from the beginning put great emphasis on
ceremony and ritual. This is a description of the pageantry of the 1927
Nuremberg party rally.
The source: Alfred Rosenberg and Wilhelm Weiß, Reichsparteitag
der NSDAP Nürnberg 19./21. August 1927 (Munich: Verlag Frz. Eher,
1927), pp. 47-52.
Torchlight Procession, Dedication
of Banners, Mass March
1. The Torchlight Procession
As darkness fell on Nurembergís rooftops and walls on Saturday
evening, the Brown Shirts vanished from the cityís streets. Huge
masses of German citizens and party members from Nuremberg and
from all parts of the German-speaking world filled the streets
in expectation of the appearance of every last German freedom
fighter who had come to Nuremberg. Above all they gathered before
the Hotel Deutscher Hof, where Adolf Hitler awaited his fighters.
In the distance, march music and unceasing shouts of Heil
announced the approach of the procession. Soon its head appeared
at the corner. Within a few minutes, the Frauentor moat resembled
a sea of fire. In astonishing order, the Brown Shirts marched
past their Führer and greeted him with their eyes shining,
the hand with the burning torch raised as in an oath. The enthusiasm
of both the onlookers and the marchers hardly knew any limits.
First came the Bavarians, with their glorious banner from
1923, then the Brandenburgers, the Hanoverians, the Thuringians,
and the Rhinelanders, the Saxons, the Hamburgers, the Holsteiners,
the Hessians, the fighters from the Ruhr, the Austrians and Pommeranians,
the Mecklenburgers, and those from Baden, our comrades from the
Saar and Silesia, Württemburg and Franconia. The new Germany
marched. With mine lamps that otherwise lit their way in the
pits, National Socialist miners greeted their Führer Adolf
It was a moving picture as those from Vienna, Kärnten,
Tyrolia, Salzburg, and Lower Austria saw Adolf Hitler for the
first time. A so-called Greater German Christian Socialist government
had refused to allow them to come to Germany. They came in spite
of great sacrifices to gain new strength, to hear their Führer
speak, to see him in person.
The endless column of 15,000 to 20,000 men marched past, with
ever new banners, new S.A. bands. And that was not all. A large
number arrived only in the late evening of Saturday or Sunday
morning. About 1,000 Hitler Youths followed the S.A., and the
S.S. ended the one-and-a-half hour march of the fighters for
the coming Third Reich.
2. The Dedication of Banners on the Luitpoldhain
A clear fall morning broke on Sunday, 21 August. Processions
of S.A. men streamed toward the Luitpoldhain from every part
of the city, some marching, some in trucks. The broad terraced
field, surrounded by greenery, was the ideal place to hold the
huge crowds. Special trains alone brought more than 40,000 people
to Nuremberg. At least as many arrived on regular trains, trucks
and busses. A group of Berlin S.A. from the “banned NSDAP”
[The Berlin police had banned the party]
even came to Nuremberg on foot. Their sacrifical deed was
announced by a red banner with white lettering, here and also
during the torchlight procession and the mass march.
The march of tens of thousands onto the Luitpoldhain was guided by markers
right and left of the terraced steps and by blazing fires on fir-decked
pylons. It was an organized military accomplishment of the first order.
It was under the direction of the calm, sure leadership of the Supreme
S.A. leader, Captain von Pfeffer and his staff. Its confidence and discipline
proved that the National Socialist S.A. is even today a strong group that
is far superior, casting all other such groups in Germany, whether to
the left or the right, into the shadows, both in its unified political
will and in its military values. Many hundreds of Swastika banners waved
above the heads of the Brown Shirts who filled the broad expanse of the
field, a remarkably striking picture that increased in intensity as in
response to fanfares and drumbeats the storm columns of the new Germany
raised their right arms and thundered out their Heils to greet their Führer,
who appeared with his staff shortly after 9 a.m. The swastika banners
had been brought to the Green Terrace, where now a forest of flags filled
three levels in a half circle that surrounded the mighty ranks. To the
fore stood the musicians and trumpeters, whose shining instruments bore
a white-green cloth on one side, a Swastika on a red background on the
other. An enormous crowd surrounded the field, watching this imposing
and unforgettable ceremony. It was the dedication of twelve new standards
for the Gaue Bayreuth, Frankfurt a. M., Chemnitz, Ruhr (Hattingen),
Potsdam, Zwickau, Essen, Bochum, Nordmark, Vienna, Hanover, Rhine. The
standard bearers stood in a row before Adolf Hitler, whose booming voice
went across the total silence of the enormous gathering. After the trumpet
sounded, he made the following moving remarks:
In November 1918 the old flags of a thousand victorious
battles were taken down, and with them, too, sank the honor of
In 1919 this Republic gained its own symbol. Hundreds of thousands
and millions of Germans fought this symbol, which was forced upon us.
But also in 1919 a movement was founded in holy protest against the destruction
of the nationís honor, against the squandering of our national inheritance,
and this movement created its own symbol in 1920. The first German flag
was given in 1920 to a small group of people, and today you can see them
here. In 1923 the first banner with the eagle was consecrated, in the
wish and hope that it would become the victory symbol of Germanyís liberation.
In 1924 the movement was dead. In 1926 we received new banners; today
we have come together once again, the brown army of the swastika, and
again we consecrate twelve banners that obligate us to hold them with
the honor they deserve, for they are the flags that will fly over Germanyís
We ask the Lord who gives us strength to carry this symbol
so that each German may look with pride at these banners and
that they may fly over all of Germany; not the Germany of Versailles,
but the Germany of our German language and tongue. We ask the
Almighty to make us strong in the coming years in faith, in the
will for freedom, and in the confidence that one may ban an organization,
but never a movement. It will rise again, just as we believe
that our people and Fatherland will rise again, stronger than
ever before. We hope to God that it happens under the sign of
these flags and banners!
Unending shouts of “Heil” joined with the music
and the sounds of the fanfares and the beating of the drums.
The sun then broke through the clouds, and no one present could
take the brightening of the sky as anything but a happy symbol
of burning enthusiasm for the great goal of freeing Germany.
Adolf Hitler now stepped up to each standard-bearer, looked him
in the eye, shook his hand firmly, and then in a strong soldierly
voice gave the motto for each standard.
First he said:
Today as well we want to mark the first two standards of
1923, which experienced the bloody days, so that we can always
distinguish them from those that came later in the history of
With these words he fastened symbols to the standards from
Munich and Landshut. They he stopped at the banner from Bayreuth
Hold your banner with the same honor as the flag of 9 November
1923, which became the first blood witness.
Hanover: Accept this banner, which I expect you to carry as
you have carried the banners in the past.
Rhine: Carry your banner until the day which the German Rhine
is one more German.
Vienna: Carry this banner as a symbol of the unity of our
movement until the shameful treaties of Versailles and St. Germain
Bochum: Carry this banner as you have carried out the battle
against the French assault.
Zwickau: You are receiving the second Saxon banner. Carry
it as the first from Plauen has been carried.
Essen: I give you this banner as a symbol of the old weapon
city of the German Reich.
Potsdam: Carry this banner until the day that the banned movement
in Berlin exists once more.
Ruhr: The best local group in the Ruhr has the honor of carrying the
banner of the Ruhr. As of today, Gau Ruhr has received three
banners. Carry the third in a manner worthy of the other two.
Accompanied by the sounds of the fighting song of the unforgettable
Dietrich Eckart, the newly consecrated banners returned
to their units, and with fanfares and thundering shouts of “Heil,”
the march of the brown columns concluded.
3. The March of the 30,000
When the consecration of the banners finished, waves of people
streamed back into the center of the city. Huge throngs of onlookers
lined the path of the coming S. A. march: the Wilhelm-Späth
Street, Schwieger Street, Wölkern and Pillenreutcher Streets,
the Celtis Tunnel, the Frauentor moat, the Pfärrer Joseph
Square, Leder Alley, Kaiser Street, up to the platform at the
Main Market. Baskets full of flowers were ready. Swastika banners
hung from the buildings, along with the white-blue and black-white-red
There was lively and colorful activity before the platform.
Soon it was completely filled to the last row with party leaders
and their staff, and supporters and friends of the movement.
The old and distinguished buildings on the large square were
also packed, every floor and every window, with onlookers. The
police, polite and correct, did an exemplary job of keeping traffic
and trams under control.
The cloudy, gloomy morning of a late summer day had been replaced
by brilliant sunshine. The air was clear and warm, the sun even
grew hot. The medical team had its work to do.
Meanwhile the leading men of the movement had gathered at the foot of
the platform. There were the Reichstag representatives Frick and Feder,
provincial parliament deputies von Mücke, Dr. Buttmann, Wagner, the
Sudeten German delegates Jung and Krebs, the head of the party publishing
firm Amann, the editor of the Völkischer Beobachter, and many
The excitement rose as two bands in S.A. uniforms along with the dashing
Postdam drum corps appeared to lively applause. Shortly after 11 a.m.,
the imposing march of the entire S.A. began at the Main Market. Loud
music, thundering shouts of “Heil,” masses of flowers greeted
the brown columns as they marched past in companies, battalions and regiments.
Local group followed local group, Gau followed Gau.
All raised their right hand in greeting, marching literally on a carpet
of flowers. Each S.A. man, each banner carrier, was covered with flowers.
The colorful splendor of late summer did not end; from windows and balconies
whole buckets of asters turned the Führerís car into a literal bed
Unit after unit marched past. The storm battalions of an awakening,
coming Germany, from Upper Silesia and the Nordmark, from the Pfalz,
from occupied regions and old Bavaria, from Berlin and the mines of
the Ruhr/ Austrians representing the Ostmark. and the proud sons of
on foot, bikes, and trucks there were 26,000-30,000 men. Pride and
enthusiasm beamed from each individual. Hardly a breath of wind moved
the old banners and flags that had witnessed much blood, or the newly
consecrated ones of that day.
The representatives of border areas were greeted with particular
enthusiasm. The signs and slogans they had brought with always
earned loud applause. There were frenetic outbursts and declarations
of brotherhood between the huge crowds and the columns that marched
past for two hours, culminating as the SS in their black caps
marched past the platform. The German Anthem [Deutschland,
Deutschland über Alles] rose powerfully to the
heavens. Those who had seen the march in Weimar at the 1926 party
rally knew that National Socialismís march to victory could not
be halted, but the march in Nuremberg surprised even the greatest
optimists. The former spirit had returned in even stronger, more
confident form, celebrating its resurrection. This 21st of August
reestablished a connection with the famed “German Rally”
of 1923 [A major right-wing gathering],
without forgetting what had happened in between.
The last groups of S.A. disappeared as the mighty procession
wound its way through Rathaus Square, the Lauser Alley and the
Lauser Gate to the Marien Tunnel and then back to Wodanís Square.
Thousands of party members thronged forward toward the Führer
stretching out their hands in an oath to the future. The jubilation
and enthusiasm were indescribable.
The huge square emptied slowly, and the Führerís car
had to move slowly through the thick crowds. In the distance
one could hear the marching of the columns, and the thundering,
untiring, shining “Heils” of the S.A. regiments, joined
by the voices of the many thousands who lined the streets.
4. The Conclusion of the Party Rally
As the delegates’ conference closed around 8 p.m., the hustle
and bustle in the squares and on the streets signaled that the
party rally was nearing its end. The Postdam drummer corps had
entertained thousands at the Main Market all afternoon with its
dashing music, putting them in a cheerful, excited, elevated
mood. The Führer of the movement spoke for the last time
at the mass meetings that evening with powerful, breath-taking
words about our great cause to the enthusiastic members of the
movement, both old and new. While the columns marched to the
railroad station to return home on special trains, hundreds of
other National Socialists gathered at the Castle, or the old
Noris, looking over the rooftops of the city to the broad land
of Franconia and into the growing evening, into the soul of the
Reich, to that which they longed for, a free National Socialist
5. Participation in the Party Rally
Some had seen mass demonstrations, or had experienced the
German Rally [of 1923], that
exceeded in number the march of the National Socialist S.A. past
their Führer. But that was not the important thing. More
important is that a young movement daily said to be dead displayed
an united, uniformed, and strictly disciplined organization of
impressive strength. No other political movement in Germany today
is anywhere near as able to bring forth such a large military
group, a group showing such perfect political and military unity
as the National Socialist S.A. There is no comparison to the
somewhat similar Stahlhelm [a right-wing
paramilitary organization mostly of combat veterans].
The Stahlhelm does not have a politically unified spirit. Even
the Reichsbanner [affiliated with the
Socialist Party] claims to be above party, and recruits
its members from three or four parties.
Nuremberg proved that only the National Socialist movement
has its own protective organization that is dedicated to nothing
but the National Socialist idea and its supreme Führer.
The great success of the Nuremberg rally is its proof that this
organization even today can bring out 30,000 men any day.
By the way, the march of the S.A. at the party rally did not
begin to include all National Socialists who attended the rally.
To get a reasonably objective idea of the attendance at Nuremberg,
coming form north and south, we can best use the official figures
from the Nuremberg office of the railroad.
The Nuremberg railway office states:
“47 special trains arrived in or departed from Nuremberg
on Saturday the 20th of August and Sunday the 21st. Regular trains
also had much greater traffic. A total of 223,600 people arrived
The usual Saturday and Sunday traffic at the main Nuremberg railway
station seldom exceeds 60,000 people, so 160,000 is a reasonable estimate
of the number of National Socialists. But this does not include the
thousands who arrived in Nuremberg on Thursday and Friday and who only
left on Monday or Tuesday. And there were many thousands who came on
foot, on bicycle, and in countless trucks. If we add these people, we
have a total of around 200,000 people who arrived or departed. The number
of party rally participants can therefore be estimated at around 100,000.
Those who were in Nuremberg on these two days, by the way,
will likely find this number too low rather than too high.
[Page copyright © 2000 by Randall Bytwerk.
No unauthorized reproduction. My e-mail address is available on the
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