Wednesday, 15 August 2012

On This Day in the Third Reich 1936

As part of the Nazi celebrations for the Berlin Olympics Josef and Magda Goebbels throw a party for between one and two thousand guests at Peacock Island, on the Wannsee. The island was strung with lights and the whole affair was stage managed by Benno von Arent the Reich Stage Designer. The island was reached by a specially installed pontoon bridge and guests passed through an

‘aisle of honour of young female dancers holding blazing torches’[i].

The guests were met by their host in a white suit and his wife. There were three orchestras playing for the guests to dance to, after dinner. Around 10 o’ clock there was a display of shooting, which apparently frightened many of the guests. US Ambassador Dodd took this to be a form of war propaganda.

One of the guests was the wife of one of the Goebbels’ neighbours Lida Baarova, a film actress who had a very public affair with the Propaganda Minister, whose remit covered control of all films.

Throughout the Olympics government ministers were vying with each other with magnificent receptions and balls. Goering and his wife Emmy gave a garden party at Karinhall two days before and were to throw another ball in the grounds of the President of the Reichstag’s palace. On the 11th August Joachim von Ribbentrop and his wife Amelie had given a dinner for 600 guests, but the Goebbels’ all night extravaganza put the Ribbentrop’s do in the shade.

Goebbels and Reifenstahl
The Germans came top of the medals table with 33 gold medals. Hitler and Goebbels spent many hours in the reviewing stand, only to be infuriated by the success of the black athlete Jesse Owens, who would appear to overturn the Nazi’s pet racial theories. The Italians won the footballing gold medal for the second Olympics running. The games were filmed by Leni Reifenstahl. It was at the opening ceremony on 1st August that Rudolf Hess, the Fuhrer’s deputy, met the Marquis of Clydesdale, the future Duke of Hamilton who Hess was flying to meet at the end of his epic flight across to Scotland in May 1941. Clydesdale like Hess has an enthusiastic aviator.


Ambassador Dodd’s Diary – William E Dodd – Victor Gollancz 1941

Goering – Roger Manvell & Heinrich Fraenkel, Greenhill Books 2005

Hess – The Fuhrer’s Disciple – Peter Padfield – Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1991

Goebbels – Ralf Georg Reuth – Constable and Company 1993

[i] Goebbels - Reuth

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