Background: The annual Nuremberg party rallies are well known. However, subordinate units of the Nazi Party held their own mini-versions of the national rally, at which top Nazi leaders often spoke. This material is taken from a 78-page booklet on the 1936 rally for Gau Südhannover-Braunschweig. Most of the material consists of photographs. I here translate the account of the rally, and include the cover and three of the photographs.
The source: Niedersachsen marschieren: Gautag Hildesheim 1936 (Hanover: Gauleitung der NSDAP, 1936).
Hildesheim, you thousand-year-old city, you treasure among the cities of Lower Saxony, one rightly calls you the Nuremberg of the north! In you lives still the highest flowering of Lower Saxon half-timbered buildings that have survived the centuries; your rare beauty reminds one to this day of German culture and German history of the Middle Ages. Who can escape the charm of the market place as the little colored lights sway? The fountain with the knight burbles softly, and the beautiful old roofs and gables seem to join together to lead the eye to the wonderful and noble form, the brilliance of the towering Knochenhauer Amtshaus. Nothing disturbs the harmony of this square, nothing disturbs the mood that surrounds it.
We wander through the narrow streets past the wonderful churches and their towering steeples. Everywhere today new flags fly, green garlands hang from the old bay windows around the ancient oaken doors. The city is decorated for a great event: The Fourth Gau rally of the NSDAP Gau Südhannover-Braunschweig, the Gau for Lower Saxony, is being held within its walls from 12-14 June 1936. Germany’s past, Germany’s present, and Germany’s future join together. People of our day pass through the ancient streets over which the Führer’s banners fly, all feeling themselves part of a tribe of people, as children of their Lower Saxon landscape within a finally united German fatherland. Can there be greater harmony between the old and new eras, between the flowering of a past German culture and the longing of our day for reviving a clear German character, for the strengthening of our ethnic ideals in pure and full landscape, than here? The feeling was so strong, so deep, so powerful in these days that each felt it in his heart.
The huge factory hall of the Senking plant is filled with a vast crowd of people. Packed together between the machines that today are at rest, they are in the midst of a place of hard work for one’s daily bread. The German worker has come here, who made his path himself, and now listens attentively to the words of Dr. Ley, words about labor as a gift of God, of the joy that is the right of the free and healthy German worker.
For the leaders of all formations and affiliates of the Gau, the high point of the Gau rally is the leadership congress in the city hall. Assistant Gauleiter Schmalz gives a brief report about the work of the past year. Dr. Ley delivers a major and inspiring speech that outlines the direction of future work, and speaks of the nature and tasks of the German struggle for freedom of our day:
“We need strength. No miracle from heaven will help us if we do not feel the absolute will to do it in ourselves. Nothing will be given to us, for we know that life is not beautiful when it is comfortable, but rather it is beautiful only with it must be fought for. Our people had lost all hope for life until we tore it free from its weariness. We gave it ideals once again, and know that these ideals have sunk into the hearts of our people. The first thing our work requires is faith. This faith is independent of all knowledge. It is determined only by blood and race, and one cannot learn it. The second virtue is absolute obedience. The third is: the idea ennobles us. We do not know the final destination, but rather the German only knows an eternal striving, battling, wanting to become better.”
In the afternoon, all offices and affiliates meet in special meetings. There was also an endless variety of various events.
In the evening, the dead of the Gau were honored at the Berghölzchen. S.A. Gruppenführer Kasche spoke. After that, 287 local groups received their standards, presented by Assistant Gauleiter Schmalz. Then there was a torchlight parade.
From the ancient streets of the city, a broad avenue leads
to the wide and open Berghölzchen Hill. A forest surrounds the green
meadow, making it a gathering place of unique beauty: there is the unity
of the space, the broad avenue that leads from the narrow city to the
free and open heights, the broad vista that one enjoys. The setting is
marvelous, emphasized by the flags of the movement and the flags of the
Gau capital with their bright colors, which fly from high flagpoles.
It seems as if the whole city, as if a whole people, is striving upwards
toward the silver eagle, high above the forest, a holy symbol. It grows
dark. As the first pale stars appear on this warm summer night, flames
spring up from pylons bearing the names of the dead of the Gau.
Thousands of torches are lit, and a huge fiery stream seems to flow down
from the hill into the city, whose splendid churches brightly illuminate
the dark night.
The Gau’s youth met at 7 a.m. for a morning ceremony at the Johanniswiese. They hear the words of the Führer:
“There is no rest and no peace for us, but always only work and struggle and battle, and our movement can never bend nor sway, but must always resist with its eye to the future.”
At 10 a.m., there is a roll call for all formations on the Berghölzchen. A vast throng gathers in brown, gray and black columns, between which shine the while of the BDM and the blue of the Naval-HJ. Honor guards from the Wehrmacht stand at the foot of the hill. Dr. Goebbels speaks:
“The fate of peoples is never determined by revolutions on paper, and never have the power-political results of a war been changed by speeches from somewhere else. It is therefore good to know that the noise of aircraft engines over our homes today can come only from German planes. We think it entirely possible that the League of Nations will one day become a place of peace. However, one cannot base the fate of a people on that, and therefore we have our own Wehrmacht to defend our peaceful labors. We organize our labor within our country, and we must be confident that a German sword defends our work. The party is the great teacher of our life, the teacher of our youth, and it gives our people an unbroken line of political ideas. The nation stands and falls with the party!”
Afterward, the formations march past in a never-ending stream, accompanied by band music.
In the afternoon, there is riding and tournaments. At the same time, a large historical parade marches through the city. It shows historical events, proverbs, and customs of Lower Saxony. It is a splendid and colorful event!
Shortly before midnight, the Hitler Youth band performs at the Market Square. German youth play “Taps.” Comrades hold the torches. The old buildings, the old fountains, and our fresh, tanned youth play in the torchlight. One will never forget the scene as the midnight hour tolls!
The Gau rally is over. What we experienced stays in our hearts. This was no parade of party formations, but rather this Gau rally in Hildesheim was an affirmation of the entire population of Lower Saxony to the movement, and to their landscape, to a strong, united Lower Saxony. Through its long years of battle, through the historical growing together of its counties, Gau Südhannover-Braunschweig has become a strong unit, a whole from which nothing can be taken without destroying it. Only Lower Saxon unity, anchored in its land, can give the strength to master the political, cultural, and economic tasks we face, and to develop all that is noble and beautiful.
[Page copyright © 2006 by Randall Bytwerk. No unauthorized reproduction. My e-mail address is available on the FAQ page.]
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