On Wed, 22 Jun 1994 06:32:08 EDT Stephen Brophy said:
> Cal, could you go into in a little more depth the ways _Triumph of
>the Will_ addresses "the Night of the Long Knives?"
The Nuremberg Rally in TRIUMPH OF THE WILL occurred early in September
1934. Such rallies were a regular occurance (the film notes that the
1934 rally was the sixth).
The Nazi drive for power was aided in large measure by Storm Troopers,
an organized body of street fighters who numbered 300,000 by 1934.
The SA (acronym by which they were widely known) were led by Ernst
Roehm, a charismatic figure who posed the only credible threat to
Hitler's complete control.
During the Spring of 1934, Hitler arranged a political detente with
the Wehrmacht and the Junkers (that is, the formal military and the
industrial base). Roehm and his allies opposed these arrangements.
"The Night of the Long Knives" at the end of June was a coup which
executed all of the top leadership of the SA, including Roehm.
The political task of the 1934 Rally was to placate the SA rank and
file who were still bitter over the coup. The situation was delicate
since 300,000 fighting men could pose a serious threat.
An obscure regional SA gauleiter, Viktor Lutze, was appointed as head
of the national SA. They had to reach far down into the ranks to
find somone who was loyal to Hitler.
Throughout TRIUMPH OF THE WILL there were comments such as Hitler's
during his climactic speech toward the end: "I am an SA and will
always be an SA." The only individual Nazi leader who has a sequence
to himself is Viktor Luzte who is seen addressing a supposedly friendly
crowd (toward the end, just before the fireworks display).
These and other similar emphases on the importance of the SA occur
throughout TRIUMPH OF THE WILL.
My argument is that only a politically sophisticated filmmaker could
have shaped the film so precisely to fit the immediate political agenda.
In other words, the film itself puts the lie on Reifenstahl's claims
to have been politically naive.
There are two books I know of which deal with these matters.
Gallo: NIGHT OF THE LONG KNIVES and Glenn Infield: LENI REIFENSTAHL:
THE FALLEN FILM GODDESS
Reifenstahl made films about the two rallies which bracket the date of
the Night of the Long Knives. TRIUMPH OF THE WILL (1934) and VICTORY
OF FAITH (1933) are examined in Martin Loiperdinger and David Culbert
"Leni Reifenstahl, the SA, and the Nazi Party Rally Films" in
HISTORICAL JOURNAL OF FILM, RADIO AND TELEVISION 8(1988)1:3-38
Cal Pryluck, Radio-Television-Film, Temple University, Philadelphia
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