During the Nazi era the need to bring the political message to the German folk was big, especially during the uprising of the National Socialist movement civilians had to be reached as much as possible.
To spread news and information the politicians used newspapers and radio, this was the modern way back then. Television was for the rich and was not used by many, and internet was for the space age. Cinemas were used to broadcast news bulletins like the Wochenschau, the weekly news reports from the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
To go on tour and spread the word face to face was, and is, still important and inspiring for politicians and their audiences, so the Nazi officials hit the road on many occasions. They reached the German people in person and spoke to them about Nazi ideology, and slowly they moulded them into war.
Around the 1930’s a movement called “Thingspiele” was popular in Germany. The idea was to get together for a theatrical show or political meeting. For this they used an amphitheatre like the Romans did when they peaked in Europe. “Thing” means a government assembly in an historical Germanic setting, with law speakers, civilians etc. The word is known in more than one old language, like Dutch, English and the Scandinavian countries. The amphitheatres were named Thingstätte, the latter part of the word comes down to site or location. Although the Thingspiele movement was on its return the Nazis saw use for the idea to spread Nazi propaganda.
Construction and use
The Heidelberg Amphitheatre construction started in 1934 and was completed in 1935. It has about 8000 seats and 20000 places to stand, it was planned to hold more people, but plans changed during construction in 1934. On the opening evening of the summer solstice on the 22nd of June Dr Goebbels spoke to a crowd of 20000 people. The site was filled with flags, torches, uniforms and other propaganda tools. Spread over the 56 rows of seat and the slopes on the side, the people of Heidelberg and surroundings heard Joseph Goebbels, minister of propaganda, speak.
400 sites were planned but only 40 are completed, more than one can be found in Germany like the one in Ordensburg Vogelsang.
Around 1937 the Thingstättes fell out of grace and became obsolete for propaganda use when the bigger and grandeur Nuremberg Rally’s came into play, build by Albert Speer. In the years after the war the amphitheatre was used for music and sport event or Easter celebrations.
You can find this Thingstätte in Heidelberg on the mountain slope, use Google maps or another navigation system with the words Thingstätte in Heidelberg or Heiligenberganlage – Thingstätte. It is an outdoor location, always open but daytime is recommended of course.