Why was Triumph of the Will filmed in Nuremberg?

Triumph of the Will was filmed in Nuremberg because that city hosted the Nazi Party Congress in 1934. The film's purpose was to document that event in a way that emphasized the power, scale, and momentum of the German National Socialist movement. Nuremberg was a center of the old Holy Roman Empire, and was chosen for Nazi rallies to establish a connection with the German past.

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Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will was framed as a documentary, but it was of course intended to be a work of propaganda. It was shot in Nuremberg because that city was the site of the Nazi Party's annual Congress, which had been held there on and off for a decade before 1934, which was the year that Riefenstahl "documented" the ceremonies for the film. By 1934, Hitler had unified the positions of President and Chancellor of Germany; he ruled with dictatorial powers. These steps were undertaken in 1933, so the 1934 Party Congress was fraught with meaning.

The larger question may be why Nuremberg, of all the German cities, was the site of the Nazi Congress. The answer to this also lies in the incessant, and nearly ubiquitous, propagandizing of Hitler's regime. Nuremberg had been one of the most important centers of the Holy Roman Empire, a place where the Emperor often held court, and where the old imperial Diet, or Reichstag, met. Hitler tried to connect his new dictatorial regime with the German past as a means of asserting its legitimacy, an ideology that is reflected in his branding of his regime as the "Third Reich." The Holy Roman Empire had been the first, and the German Empire established by Bismarck and Wilhelm in the 1870s was the second. Nuremberg's significance is underscored by the film, which features an aerial view of the city showcasing its medieval architecture. Its symbolic importance was also one of the reasons it was chosen as the site for the famous war crimes trial after the war.

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