IBDP History IAs on Leni Riefenstahl

How far was Leni Riefenstahl aware of the war crimes committed at Konskie and Tiefland?

How far was Leni Riefenstahl aware of the war crimes committed at Konskie and Tiefland?


Section 1: Identification and Evaluation of Sources
            The focus of this investigation is centered on the question: How far was Leni Riefenstahl aware of the extermination of six million Jews? My research will be targeting Riefenstahl’s knowledge of the Nazi party’s actions and intentions as well as the implications of her propaganda of the regime in order to analyze and determine the extent of her conscientiousness in her contributions.
‘Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir’, Leni Riefenstahl
The origin of this source is immediately valuable for it is Riefenstahl’s autobiography, granting the direct perspective of the person in question as well as an insight into her own life. Also, written in 1987 she is allowed the value of hindsight, having seen the results and aftermath of her own actions and is given a much broader understanding of the war having now access to all perspectives. Despite the limitation of her memory in recalling events that happened over 50 years ago, the origin is beneficial in that as Riefenstahl is able to see the full consequences of the Nazi party she is more reasonable in her views. However, it is limiting in that the outlook portrayed may not match her true passions and intentions as they were at the time. Finally, the origin is also limited in that it is an abridged version of the original German book. After being translated there are parts that are left out of the book, ranging from minor details to whole photographs and events that could affect the information and impression gained from the autobiography.
Its purpose is also a limitation; written by Riefenstahl herself it is biased as it holds the potential to be nothing more than another piece of propaganda in an attempt to salvage her own image. This is exemplified in her glossing over of the use of the Romani people in one of her films, leaving out information that could be harmful to her reputation. The Los Angeles Times even wrote that ‘if there are any expectations that in her memoir she does some soul-searching, they will be disappointed’, insisting this is merely a claim of incognizance to the issue rather than a reflection and analysis of her own actions.[1] However, Riefenstahl herself writes that the purpose is instead to ‘tackle preconceived ideas and to clear up misunderstandings’, granting a unique perspective at controversial events in her life.[2] This focus and amount of detail on crucial moments is a value to historians studying them as well as this investigation specifically, as it is centered on examining and evaluating these key events in her life. When studying and drawing judgments on Riefenstahl’s life specifically it is necessary to first examine the side of the woman herself as without it a complete understanding of her perspective would be impossible to achieve.
‘Leni Riefenstahl: The Seduction of Genius’, Rainer Rother
Rother is an accomplished German film history scholar, making the origin of the source valuable, as he is a reliable analyst in Riefenstahl’s life and contributions from both a film and historical perspective. Another value of the origin is that as Rother himself is German, there are no losses in translation from the original source material of her films. This in itself is also a limitation as his book was written in German and has been translated, therefore risking losing information or mistranslations from the original book to the English version. Written in 2002 there is the value of hindsight. Therefore, when Rother discusses whether Riefenstahl knew of the implications of her actions he is able to see the full timeline of what the consequences exactly were, even decades later. However, the limitation of the book being written so much later is that it is very difficult to accurately view the situation as it would have been seen from the time. Removing the bias of knowing the destruction and death caused by the Nazis is nearly impossible and thus the book is limited in an inability to be fully objective in analyzing the circumstance with access to so much knowledge.
The purpose of this source is to discuss Riefenstahl’s involvement in the Nazi campaign, primarily revolving around her films ‘Olympia’ and ‘Triumph des Willens’. This amount of focus is very useful for investigating her knowledge of the intentions of the political party she was presenting, as these two movies are two of the most influential pieces of Nazi propaganda produced at the time.[3] This book is vital as it revolves around her involvement with the Nazi party during her film career in which the events at Konskie and Tiefland are examined in detail, the focuses of this investigation. The downfall to this source is that in focusing primarily on Riefenstahl’s professional involvement in the films it may omit crucial information about her personal life in relation to her involvement and relationship with the Nazis.

Word Count: 787



Section 2: Investigation
It is ‘through the clever and constant application of propaganda’ that, as Adolf Hitler himself wrote, people can be made to ‘consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise’.[4] He himself accurately summarized the role and importance of propaganda in 1930’s Nazi Germany; Propaganda formed an ever-growing cult of staunch Hitler supporters and allowed the German people to ignore his many flaws and instead highlight the gains he promised them.[5] It is overly evident now to see from a comfortable position looking back in hindsight the major role it played in gaining support for the NSDAP and most crucially, maintaining the party once in power.[6] The great amount of contribution to the Nazi campaign from the propaganda of the time is undeniable and therefore places a large portion of the blame for the consequences, most notably the Holocaust, on the creators behind the scenes. Leni Riefenstahl, labeled the ‘Fuhrer’s filmmaker’, is largely seen as the main creator of the most powerful pieces of propaganda behind the party.[7] This is why Riefenstahl was seen to be so important; Chosen personally by Hitler, perhaps against even Goebbel’s wishes, she rose to be one of the most prominent symbols of German Nationalism and the Nazi Party.[8] However, as she was not directly involved in the atrocities committed by the Nazis and instead supported the party through her films, it is harder to place the blame and must be understood whether the full implications of her actions were comprehended beforehand in order to accurately establish to what extent she was responsible. In order to assess this, this investigation will examine specific moments in her life in which Riefenstahl was closest to the Nazi Party, consider all facts and perspectives, and draw an accurate conclusion from this.
Konskie: September 1939
One of the most controversial moments in Leni Riefenstahl’s involvement in the war was the Konskie incident. Following Germany’s invasion of Poland, Riefenstahl travelled with a ‘film crew for combat reporting’.[9] Early into their travels with the army through Poland however, they witnessed the execution of Polish civilians in the town of Konskie.[10] The day before Riefenstahl claimed a ‘high-ranking German officer and four soldiers’ had been killed by ‘Polish civilians’ and were to be buried in the same town[11]. Rother challenges that this seems unlikely for a high-ranking official to be buried in ‘the middle of a market square in Konskie’.[12] This seems especially improbable when Riefenstahl herself stated only two days before that the remains of six soldiers of lower rank also killed by Polish civilians had been ‘transported to Berlin’. Riefenstahl claims she protested when she saw the civilians were going to be executed by the soldiers despite orders not to, only to have a rifle pointed at her by one of the men, and was photographed at this exact moment (See Figure 1 of the Appendix).[13] The photo shows a clearly distressed Riefenstahl in the midst of a group of German soldiers. However, it is a very limited source as it is cropped and does not show what she is looking at. Furthermore, the soldiers in the photo look bored and disinterested, staring off in different directions, a very strange reaction to a gun being pointed towards them at the woman behind them. This raises the concern that this photo could be nothing more than another piece of propaganda that was not truly taken at the Konskie massacre and instead used only to distance Riefenstahl from the Nazis and any accompanying responsibility. Although Rother admits ‘her behavior in Konskie cannot be said to give much scope for her critics’, every implausibility and inaccuracy in Riefenstahl’s recount suggests she is lying to prevent accountability. Welt der Arbeit, a German newspaper wrote that ‘it was entirely improbable that this woman [Riefenstahl] was unaware of the fact that Himmler’s death squads were at work in Końsky’[14]. Being so close to the German front in Poland and professionally working with the army as a combat reporter it is highly likely that she would have had access to information regarding the Holocaust, whether from seeing it firsthand or from one of the many officials she worked with. Finally, despite her claims that she was ‘so upset by this experience’ and went to confront Hitler himself about what happened, she was already filming ‘Hitler’s triumphal parade into Warsaw just weeks later’.[15],[16]
Tiefland: 1941
Another incredibly scrutinized part of Riefenstahl’s life is the filming of Tiefland, where the fate of the Gypsies that worked as extras on set is heavily debated. While she claimed the project had ‘nothing to do with politics or war’, there was no possible way to avoid interacting with the effects of the war when filming in Germany in the midst of WWII. It was during the filming that Riefenstahl asked to hire gypsies, where she states they were picked out ‘at a nearby gypsy camp’.[17] However, since the end of the war there have been multiple accusations that the gypsies who served on set were later sent to their deaths at concentration camps. In the official Auschwitz death lists there have been forty-eight of the total 117 gypsy extras found to have been murdered there.[18] Riefenstahl contradicted this in her book claiming that ‘we saw nearly all of them again after the war’ and made a public statement that all had survived the war which was eventually retracted.[19],[20] She continued to insist she had no knowledge of the fact that they would be sent to the concentration camp, despite numerous witness reports that contradicted this. Rosa Winter, a Sinti survivor who had been picked from the Max Glan Gypsy holding camp in Austria said that Riefenstahl and her accompanying crew found her after attempting to run away, distressed by the news that her family had been sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. She claimed Riefenstahl herself said ‘Right, you can go to the concentration camp’[21]. While these words are very unlikely to be recited ver batum due to the unreliability of Winter’s memory recalling the story from over 50 years prior to her interview at the age of 79, the message is still clear: Leni Riefenstahl not only knew about the concentration camps, but was willingly sending Gypsies to their death. The testimonies of the Gypsies are all limited by their biases, making it hard to rely on them alone for definitive proof of Riefenstahl’s knowledge and consciousness in her decisions, however aid in supporting other evidence.
Based on all of this evidence it is clear that Riefenstahl was collaborating with the German government during the same time frame as the horrible atrocities of the Holocaust were being committed. Close to high-ranking German officials, working with Goebbels and developing a close relationship with Hitler himself, as well as witnessing firsthand some of the actions the Nazis were conducting against the Jews and Gypsies. Known to have made anti-Semitic comments and having recorded witnesses claiming she personally sent Gypsies to concentration camps herself, her contribution to the Final Solution is undeniable. While she may have been only the filmmaker and never have bloodied her own hands, it is nearly impossible that she could have had no knowledge of the Nazis involvement in the Holocaust. Accepting that she did in fact consciously contribute to the Nazi cause knowing the implications of her actions changes our view completely of her career. Thus, her involvement in her propaganda films for Hitler can be regarded wholly as Nazi propaganda that knowingly aided the Holocaust.
Word Count: 1246


Section 3: Reflection
In conducting this investigation I was allowed a valuable insight into the required qualities and methods of a historian as well as the challenges that follow when making judgments on heavily scrutinized and controversial moments in history. After finishing this project I have improved as a historian in developing necessary skills for the field. I have gathered and compared research from a variety of sources in order to avoid a one-sided argument, analyzed firsthand accounts and assessed their reliability as a source, as well as read books from historians who have specialized on the topic specifically. These are all strategies implemented by historians in order to gain an accurate judgment on a topic.
When analyzing firsthand accounts, I encountered my first challenge as a historian. It was difficult to judge what could be considered fact and which sources were unreliable, and as much of the information conflicted, assessing the truth was a necessary task. It was important to take into account the different factors that could harm the reliability and consider them in respect to their origin and purpose. This was very evident in analyzing Leni Riefenstahl’s autobiography, where she denied ever having any information of the Nazis’ intentions. The firsthand account of Rosa Winters, a Gypsy who had worked with Riefenstahl in the 40’s, contradicted the autobiography in stating that Riefenstahl herself had sent her to a concentration camp after failing to comply with her orders. Both sources are biased and were written decades after the actual events in question so the same detriments to reliability apply. Riefenstahl may want to protect herself from responsibility while Winters may want retribution for the great amount of family and friends lost in the Holocaust, and both are relying purely on memory that could be inaccurate by the time they recorded their recounts. Thus, it was crucial for me to draw my conclusion of what the truth was from somewhere in the middle.
As I conducted my research it began clear that it is difficult as a historian to make a judgment, as the implications of which are huge. Finding an answer in another field is beneficial for our progressive development in that area, however in history it can change our interpretation of the past completely. One must tread lightly dealing with such a sensitive topic like the Holocaust, as whatever conclusion is drawn could alter our understanding of something that affected millions across the world. Thus, when studying Riefenstahl I had to be careful to make my assessment as accurate as possible while focusing primarily on the facts of what happened instead of the implications of them if they are true. It became clear as I did this that another necessary trait of a historian is the ability to be objective in an investigation like this. When entering this project I had to separate my own opinion, as bringing my own biases into my research would only distort the truth and make my findings unreliable. It is easy to make rash judgments when assessing such an emotional topic, however I had to overcome my own subjectivity for the sake of creating an accurate investigation.
At the end of this investigation I feel I am a much stronger historian, after developing necessary skills and becoming aware of challenges encountered in the field. It has highlighted the obligation to be objective in researching sensitive moments in history as well as taking into account the reliability of a source before drawing judgments.
Word Count: 578

Figure 1: Leni Riefenstahl photographed during the Konskie massacre when she claims a rifle was aimed at her.


Works Cited
Bach, Steven. “Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl”. Knopf. 13 March, 2007. Print.

Connolly, Kate. “Gypsies’ Fate Haunts Film Muse of Hitler” The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/aug/18/artsandhumanities.germany (accessed 19 Sept. 2016).

“Her Films Glorified Hitler now Leni Riefenstahl’s Story Hits the Big Screen” The Scotsman. 11 June 2012. Print.

Hitler, Adolf, and James Vincent Murphy. “Mein Kampf” (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1981), 228.

Ian Kershaw. “The Hitler Myth” (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 48-59.

Kennicott, Phillip. “Art of Justice: The Filmmakers at Nuremberg.” The Washington Post. 29 Nov. 2005. Print.

Kenrick, Donald. “The Final Chapter” University of Hertferdshire Press. 2005. Pp. 204. Print.

Lawrence, Will. “Was Hitler’s Favorite Filmmaker Really This Nice”. The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/2016/06/03/leni-riefenstahl-was-hitlers-favourite-film-maker-really-this-ni/ (accessed 16 Sept. 2016).

Leffland, Ella. “The Life But Not the Times: LENI RIEFENSTAHL: A Memoir, By Leni Riefenstahl” The Los Angeles Times 26 Sept. 1993: Print.

“Leni Riefenstahl” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC. https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007410 (accessed 12 Sept. 2016).

“Leni Riefenstahl: The Fuhrer’s Filmmaker”. Biography. 16 Feb. 1987. Television.

“Leni Riefenstahl: Tiefland” Welt der Arbeit. 12 Nov. 1954. Print.

Riefenstahl, Leni. “Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir” (New York: Picador, 1992), 656.

Rother, Rainer. “Leni Riefenstahl: The Seduction of Genius.” Bloomsbury Academic. 15 Nov. 2002. Pp. 129. Print.

Salkeld, Audrey. “A Portrait of Leni Riefenstahl.” Random House. 2011.

Sereny, Gitta. “The Tales of a Blind Eyewitness: Leni Riefenstahl.” Independent. 13 Sept. 1992. Print.

Thurman, Judith. “Where There’s a Will”. The New Yorker. 19 March, 2007. Print.

Welch, David “Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda” (London: Routledge, 1993), 24. 

FOOTNOTES:   [1] Leffland, Ella. “The Life But Not the Times: LENI RIEFENSTAHL: A Memoir, By Leni Riefenstahl” The Los Angeles Times 26 Sept. 1993: Print.  [2] Riefenstahl, Leni. “Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir” (New York: Picador, 1992), 656. [3] Bachrach, Susan and Luckert, Steven. “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda” (Washington, D.C: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2009), 185. [4] Hitler, Adolf, and James Vincent Murphy. “Mein Kampf” (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1981), 228. [5] Ian Kershaw. “The Hitler Myth” (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 48-59. [6] Welch, David “Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda” (London: Routledge, 1993), 24. [7] “Leni Riefenstahl: The Fuhrer’s Filmmaker”. Biography. 16 Feb. 1987. Television. [8] Rother, Rainer. “Leni Riefenstahl: The Seduction of Genius.” Bloomsbury Academic. 15 Nov. 2002. Pp. 54. Print. [9] Riefenstahl, Leni. “Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir” Picador. 1992. Pp. 258. Print. [10] “Leni Riefenstahl” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC. https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007410 (accessed 12 Sept. 2016). [11] Riefenstahl, Leni. “Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir” Picador. 1992. Pp. 257. Print. [12] Rother, Rainer. “Leni Riefenstahl: The Seduction of Genius.” Bloomsbury Academic. 15 Nov. 2002. Pp. 129. Print. [13] Riefenstahl, Leni. “Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir” Picador. 1992. Pp. 258. Print. [14] “Leni Riefenstahl: Tiefland” Welt der Arbeit. 12 Nov. 1954. Print. [15] Riefenstahl, Leni. “Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir” Picador. 1992. Pp. 259. Print. [16] “Leni Riefenstahl” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC. https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007410 (accessed 18 Sept. 2016). [17] Riefenstahl, Leni. “Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir” Picador. 1992. Pp. 261-7. Print. [18] Kenrick, Donald. “The Final Chapter” University of Hertferdshire Press. 2005. Pp. 204. Print. [19] Riefenstahl, Leni. “Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir” Picador. 1992. Pp. 267. Print. [20] “Leni Riefenstahl” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC. https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007410 (accessed 19 Sept. 2016). [21] Connolly, Kate. “Gypsies’ Fate Haunts Film Muse of Hitler” The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/aug/18/artsandhumanities.germany (accessed 19 Sept. 2016).     

How Does the Film “Triumph of the Will” by Leni Riefenstahl Address the Night of the Long Knives?

Plan of Approach
I will compare the film Triumph of the Will to the original itinerary of the Nüremberg Party Rally as well as transcripts of Hitler’s speeches. I will read William Shirer’s eye-witness accounts of the 1934 Nüremberg Rally as recorded in his Berlin Diary. I will read The Perfect Nazi by Martin Davidson, a biography of the author’s grandfather, a member of the SS who attended the 1934 Nüremberg Rally. Additionally, I will examine photographs of the filming and of the Nüremberg Rally itself. I will go to the Reichsparteitagsgelände in the Luitpoldhain in Nüremberg in order to gain a genuine sense of the scope and perspective of the event, beyond the images shown in the film.

Summary
William L. Shirer describes the 1934 Reichsparteitag des deutschen Volkes in Nüremberg as a pseudo-pentecostal event in which the masses viewed Adolf Hitler “as if he were Messiah, their faces transformed into something positively inhuman”
. Despite the official purpose of strengthening the liaison between the Nazi Party and the German people and exemplifying the “unfolding glory and power” of the Third Reich, the annual NSDAP Nüremberg Rallies, as eminent historian Richard J. Overy claims, mainly served to foster Hitler’s cult of personality. Hitler desired the Nüremberg Rally of 1934 to be immortalized in recording and assigned his protégée, prominent filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, the duty. The result was the groundbreaking masterpiece, Triumph des Willens, a motion picture that, despite its close association with Nazism, is still considered a keystone and “breathtaking” role model of modern cinema. Up to her death in 2003, Riefenstahl has consistently denied her alleged sympathy with the Nazi Party and has insisted that “Triumph of the Will” be regarded as a work of art rather than propaganda.
Every party rally was orchestrated thematically, yet the September 1934 Nüremberg Rally was the exception; only later, after Riefenstahl’s film, was it declared to be the “Rally of Power”
. However, this Rally posed a challenge for the dictator that unintentionally ironized the theme: just three months earlier, Hitler had took action against the Sturmabteilung (SA) and its leader, Ernst Röhm, in the infamous Night of the Long Knives, an operation involving at least 85 extra-judicial killings
, spanning the 30th of June until the 2nd of July. Now, facing the entire Party, including the SA, as well as a crowd of several thousand civilians at the Nüremberg Rally, Hitler encountered the task of publicly rationalizing Operation Hummingbird. This would suggest that his position as leader in 1934 was not as solid as commonly assumed.
Triumph of the Will addresses the Night of the Long Knives through several significant details. It strikingly captures the grave moment Adolf Hitler walks through an immaculate formation of 150,000 SS and SA troops, flanked by Heinrich Himmler and Victor Lutze. The latter was the new appointed leader of the brown-shirts, having just replaced the defamed Ernst Röhm after Operation Hummingbird. Being his first official appearance as Stabschef, Lutze encountered an aura heavy with the suppressed memory of the Party’s recent exploits and the violent riddance of his predecessor. In his eye-witness account, William L. Shirer notes that “the SA boys received him coolly”. In one of the final scenes, Hitler holds a speech with references towards “unity” and “loyalty”, alluding to the reason for the Night of the Long Knives.
It is important to note that the planning and organisation for the 1934 Nüremberg Rally took into account the making of Triumph of the Will and was designed to allow effective filming, always bearing in mind the resolute goal of publicizing the event to the broader German public. For instance, her crew was ensured to have ruts and space for camera tracks. Therefore, to an extent, many of the visual arrangements were suited to the filming, making practicality a secondary concern.

Evaluation of Sources
Triumph des Willens - film by Leni Riefenstahl
Whether Triumph of the Will should be viewed as a documentary, a work of art or a piece of propaganda is matter of debate. These different stances have an effect on its suitability and value as a historical source. The Wagnerist music, aptly matching the ideology, appeals to the viewers’ emotions and thus poses an obstacle to the objective interpretation of the Rally. The fact that there are only shots of crowds, not of individuals (with the exception of Party officials) further presses the ideological concept of a homogenous population showing wholehearted support for the NSDAP, classifying the film, although not official propaganda, as a work with National Socialist sympathies. Riefenstahl had some of the official speakers reenact their speeches in studios when the cut during the actual Rally was not suitable. This indicates that the Riefenstahl did not attempt to portray the Rally as it happened, but had artistic priorities. It is not useful to a historian wishing to learn about the nature of the speeches at the event itself. Regardless of this however, Triumph of the Will is useful as evidence of how the Nazi Party portrayed itself to the broad German public, as well as the world outside of Germany.
When regarded as a work of art rather than an objective account of the Nüremberg Rally, one would assume that the film does not guarantee a realistic portrayal of the events, but rather manipulated them in order to achieve the greatest aesthetic effect. Similarly, if one considers it an element of Nazi propaganda rather than an independent documentary, one would conjecture that the design to convey political messages outweighed the notion of portraying the events of the Rally soberly. This is confirmed by the camera angles chosen to depict Hitler; Riefenstahl used techniques such as camera angles and clear sky backgrounds to bestow on the Führer a superhuman, larger-than-life quality. However, it is important to note that the Nüremberg Party Rally of 1934 was organised bearing in the mind the making of the film and that therefore, the itinerary of the event was adapted to suit the filming. The position of troops and officers, for example, was planned to create a visual aesthetic effect, rather than have a practical purpose. It is appropriate to examine the Nüremberg Party Rally and Triumph of the Will as one unit, because one was outlined with respect to the other. Hence, although aspects such as music and camera angles may manipulate viewers’ perception of events, the film does not necessarily warp the reality of the Nüremberg Party Rally itself.

Berlin Diary - witness account of the Third Reich 1934-41 by William Shirer
In his Berlin Diary, William Shirer, an American radio journalist broadcasting to the Amercian public, gives palpable, insightful descriptions of many events between 1934 and 1941, including detailed accounts of the 1934 Nüremberg Rally. It is useful as evidence of a detached observer’s perception of the events, especially as his tone is generally sober. However, at times, Shirer’s language is passionate and discloses emotional involvement. The name “Diary” already suggests a personal connection to the events he describes, indicating not only valuable, intimate knowledge, but also personal inclination. As the Berlin Diary was written as a journal during his stay in Germany, Shirer offers in-the-moment accounts of events, lacking reflective hindsight. This is useful to a historian wishing to grasp the nature of the Nüremberg Party Rally from the perspective of an observer, but is not useful as evidence of its context and consequences.
Additionally, Shirer uses numerous German witnesses as sources, but disguises their identity in order to leave no clues for the Gestapo. This makes it extremely difficult to evaluate the accuracy and reliability of the information he published. It is unclear to what extent the sources sympathised with or disliked the regime and thus how biased their statements are. Shirer only moved to Germany in 1934, so was still relatively new to the country, culture and language at the time of writing his Berlin Diary, which may have inhibited his understanding of society and may have led to misinterpretations on his side. 
Analysis
Sir Ian Kershaw argues that, although following the Night of the Long Knives the Sturmabteilung was forfeited its importance, Hitler could now have confidence in the freshly cleansed bloc. However, Triumph of the Will points to the opposite. The position of the SS and SA troops while the men address the crowds spotlights the atmosphere following the purge: during Hitler’s speech, the SS surround him in an escort fashion, assuming a protective stance, thus indicating subtle apprehension; perhaps a revenge attack from the brown-shirts was not inconceivable. This bespeaks Hitler’s precarious standing and continuous mistrust of the paramilitary group; it shows that, despite the hazardous purge, the brown-shirts’ adherence was still doubted. William Shirer confirms this in his “Berlin Diary”. He states that “there was considerable tension in the stadium and I noticed that Hitler’s own SS bodyguard was drawn up in force in front of him, separating him from the mass of the brown-shirts. We wondered if just one of those fifty thousand brown-shirts wouldn’t pull a revolver, but not one did”. This demonstrates that, despite the purge of the SA during the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler still mistrusted the group, choosing instead to emphasize the SS’s role as his protective squad and placing them directly opposite the SA. Martin Davidson, in his account of his grandfather’s life as an SS man, asserts that there existed considerable animosity between the two groups, culminating in fights and brawls under the influence of alcohol behind the scenes of the 1934 Rally. He also believes that Hitler was vulnerable at a time so soon after the Night of the Long Knives.
Yet the fact that, to a considerable extent, the Rally was organised according to the filming indicates that the positions of the SS and SA men may have nothing but aesthetic significance. In fact, by going to the Rally grounds in Nüremberg, one can see for oneself that the position the SS bodyguard took around Hitler was not practical, but rather served a visual purpose.

Conclusion
The post-Operation Hummingbird aura is explicit in Triumph of the Will, and is especially heavy in the scene depicting Hitler’s address to the Schutzstaffel and the Sturmabteilung. Despite their positions and formations having aesthetic purposes, it is still evident that there was a rift between the two groups, the former being closer to Hitler than the latter, resulting in drunk quarrels during the Rally. These were, needless to say, excluded from the film. Nevertheless, the cold animosity and tension is evident.

Bibliography
1. Berghaus, Günter. Fascism and Theatre: Comparative Studies of Aesthetics and Politics of Performance in Europe 1925-1945. Providence, R.I: Berghahn Books, 1996.  1. Blamires, Cyprian: Jackson, Paul. World Fascism: a Historical Encyclopedia. Volume 1. Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, 2006.  1. Brockmann, Stephen. Nüremberg: the imaginary capital.. Rochester, N.Y: Camden House, 2006.  1. Carroll, Noel; Choi, Jinhee. Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures: an Anthology. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2006.  1. Davidson, Martin. The Perfect Nazi: Uncovering my SS Grandfather’s Secret Past and How Hitler Seduced a Generation. Penguin Group. London: Penguin Books, 2010.  1. Deutschmann, Linda. Triumph of the Will: the image of the Third Reich. Longwood Academic, 1991.  1. Hinton, David B. The Films of Leni Riefenstahl. Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 1991.  1. Hudson, David; Bergman, Marvin; Horton, Loren N. The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa. 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Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2006. 6 Perry, Marvin; Chase, Myrna; Jacob, Margaret; Jacob, James R; Von Laue, Theodore H. Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics and Society from 1600. Volume II. Page 801. USA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Suzanne Jeans, 2009. 7 Brockmann, Stephen. Nüremberg: the imaginary capital. Page 153. Rochester, N.Y: Camden House, 2006. 8 James-Chakraborty, Kathleen. German Architecture for a Mass Audience. Page 93. London: Routledge, 2000. 9 Kershaw, Ian. Hitler. Page 73. First published Pearson Education, 1991. Essex: Pearson Education, 2009. 10 Blamires, Cyprian: Jackson, Paul. World Fascism: a Historical Encyclopedia. Volume 1. Page 479. Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, 2006. 11 Hinton, David B. The Films of Leni Riefenstahl. Page 41. Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 1991. 12 Shirer, William L. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent. Found in The Nazi Germany Sourcebook - an Anthology of Texts. Stakcelberg, Roderick; Winkle, Sally A. Page 180. Taylor and Francis Group. New York: Routledge, 2002. 13 Deutschmann, Linda. Triumph of the Will: the image of the Third Reich. Page 175. Longwood Academic, 1991. 14 Deutschmann, Linda. Triumph of the Will: the image of the Third Reich. Page 176. Longwood Academic, 1991. 15 Deutschmann, Linda. Triumph of the will: the image of the Third Reich. Page 184. Longwood Academic, 1991. 16 Taylor, Richard. Film propaganda: Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. Page 163. I.B. Tauris, 1998. 17 Wallace, Ian. Berlin. Page 93. Clio Press, 1993. 18 Hudson, David; Bergman, Marvin; Horton, Loren N. The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa. Page 464. University of Iowa Press, 2009. 19 Kershaw, Ian. Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorships in Comparison. Page 93. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 20 Shirer, William L. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent. Found in The Nazi Germany Sourcebook - an Anthology of Texts. Stackelberg, Roderick; Winkle, Sally A. Page 180. Taylor and Francis Group. New York: Routledge, 2002. 21 Davidson, Martin. The Perfect Nazi: Uncovering my SS Grandfather’s Secret Past and How Hitler Seduced a Generation. Page 161. Penguin Group. London: Penguin Books, 2010.