Geoff Walden

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Thingplatz / Thingstätte Sites

 

   In 1933 the Nazi Propaganda Ministry under Joseph Goebbels began a movement based on the "Blut und Boden" (Blood and Soil) ideology - the so-called "Thing" movement. A Thing was an ancient Nordic/Germanic gathering of the people, in an outdoor setting. The Nazi Thing gatherings were to be held in specially-constructed outdoor amphitheaters, called (in the singular) Thingplatz or Thingstätte. Here, the people would gather for Völkisch meetings and to view theater and propaganda presentations written especially for the Thing style. The Thing sites were to be built as much as possible in a natural setting, incorporating rocks, trees, water bodies, ruins, and hills of some historical or mythical significance.

   The first Thingplatz was built in 1934 near Halle (see below). Some 1200 Thing sites were planned, but only about 45 were built, as the movement was never particularly popular with the people. Hitler himself was not a big believer in the "Blut und Boden" aspect of Goebbels' propaganda, and outdoor propaganda performances were not popular in the commonly cold and damp German weather. After 1936, most Thing sites were used as Feierstätten (festival sites) or Freilichtbühnen (open-air theaters), for outdoor plays and normal folk festivals such as those celebrating the summer solstice. Following the end of World War II, many of these sites have come to be used as venues for outdoor rock concerts and other musical presentations.

   The following listing is far from complete. Anyone wishing to share further information on Thing sites is invited to contact the page author at:  walden01(at)comcast.net.

 


 

Annaberg - built in 1934-38 on the Chełm Höhe, between Oppeln and Gleiwitz, in Silesia. The Feierstätte der Schlesier am Annaberg was built adjacent to the Annaberg Memorial to the Freikorps and World War I casualties, on a hill dedicated to St. Anna. See further info (in German) at http://www.odertaler.de/annaberg/annaberg/geschichte.htm. This site is now in the village of Gora Swietej Anny, Poland. The Thingplatz itself is largely unchanged, although the Freikorpsdenkmal on the hill above was blown up in 1945, and a new Polish memorial was later built on the site. (Thanks to Robert Niedzwiedzki for info on this site.)

       
The Annaberg Thingplatz with the Freikorps Memorial on the hill above. (period postcard / Gerdy Troost, "Das Bauen im neuen Reich," 1st Ed., 1938 / Werner Rittich, "Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart," Berlin, 1938)  (MapQuest Map Link - approx. location)
    
(photos above and below courtesy R. Kaiser)
    

 

Augsburg - Freilichtbühne - I have no further info on this site.


Augsburg Freilichtbühne, from a period postcard.

 

Bad Schmiedeberg - second Thingplatz, "Dübender Heide," opened in September 1934.

    
Thingstätte Dübener Heide bei Bad Schmiedeberg, from period postcards (courtesy Helmut Reinhold)

 

Bad Segeberg - Thingplatz Segeberger Höhle, built in 1937, near Lübeck. Now the site of the annual Karl May Fest. See http://www.showcaves.com/english/de/showcaves/Segeberger.html(MapQuest Map Link)

             
Bad Segeberg Thingplatz, from period postcards, and as the site appears today (modern photo courtesy Greg Pitty)

 

Bad Windsheim - Thingstätte am Weinturmhügel, built in 1935. The site was built around sixteen commemorative oak trees, planted to honor the sixteen dead of the 9 November 1923 Munich putsch.

    
The 16 oak trees at the Bad Windsheim Thingplatz site (only 15 remain today). A wooden cross memorial on the site remembers the "Deutschen Osten" - the Germans who lived in the eastern sections of Greater Germany, who were driven from their homes into exile in 1945.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Berchtesgaden-Strub - Dietrich-Eckart Freilichtbühne, opened on 15 July 1933 with the drama "Schlageter." The grounds were later used to build the Adolf Hitler Jugendherberge.  (Thanks to my friend Ralf Hornberger for this info!)

 

Bergen - built on the Baltic Sea island of Rügen in 1935-37, near the Hans Mallon Memorial. Primarily used by Hitler Youth groups. The site still exists in a somewhat altered condition.

    
Thingplatz at Bergen, from period postcards.  (MapQuest Map Link)


Bergen Thingplatz on a recent wintry morning.

 

Berlin - Dietrich-Eckart-Bühne - click here for info and photos.

         
Dietrich-Eckart-Bühne at the Berlin Reichsportsfeld -- during construction in 1935 (period postcards).  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Berlin - Thingplatz Lichtenberg - now called the Floraplatz. I have little info on this site, but it is apparently located in the Kleingartenanlage (garden area) Biesenhorst I, or in the Behelfsheimsiedlung in the Karlshorst district. See http://www.luise-berlin.de/strassen/Bez17h/T166.htm.

 

Bochum - Thingstätte Wattenscheid - built in 1937. The site still exists.


Thingstätte Wattenscheid, Bochum, from a period postcard. 
(MapQuest Map Link)

 

Borna - south of Leipzig - now called the Volksplatz. Still in existence and used for open-air concerts and films (hence, the large drive-in style screen above the stage). (Thanks to Jens Minkwitz for info and modern photos)

         
Borna Thingplatz, from a 1937 postcard.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Brahmsee - Thingplatz on the Brahmsee lakeside in Schleswig-Holstein - I have no further info.


Brahmsee Thingplatz, from a postcard.

 

Braunschweig - Weihestätte Thingplatz on the Nußberg - built in 1935 - see http://www.vernetztes-gedaechtnis.de/nussberg.htm, http://members.aol.com/HKottke6/bsrund1.htm, http://www.braunschweig.de/stadtportrait/geschichte/1930_bis_1945.html. Almost nothing remains of this site today, except the stone staircases around the periphery.

    
Braunschweig Thingplatz, from postcards dated 1939, 1941, and 1943  (MapQuest Map Link)
    

    

     
A Nazi gathering at the Nußberg Thingplatz, perhaps the opening in August 1935, when the play "Arbeiter und Bauern" (Workers and Farmers) was performed.

 

Bückeberg - "Reichsthingstätte" - This large gathering site on a hillside in the Hannover area was used for the annual Harvest Thanksgiving Festival from 1933-37. The site still exists, with Hitler's path and ruins of the grandstand foundation still visible.  (MapQuest Map Link)
See http://www.gelderblom-hameln.de/bueckeberg/

   
Hitler at the Bückeberg Harvest Festival on 1 October 1934, and an approximate corresponding view today. (modern photo courtesy Greg Pitty)

 

Dorweiler - Freilichtbühne at Burg Waldeck, near Cochem - built about 1934 at a site previously frequented by "Wandervogel" youth - the German "hippies" of their day. Again used for youth programs and concerts following the war - has been called the "German Woodstock." (Little remains of this site today - thanks to Greg Pitty for info.)

    
(photos courtesy Greg Pitty)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Dresden - "Volksbühne" on the northern bank of the Elbe River, overlooking the historic downtown area - this small edifice was built in 1933, not as a Thingplatz, but as part of the planned Gauforum for Dresden. It was later used as a Thingplatz.

    
Dresden Volksbühne today.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Drossen - Kreis West-Sternberg - now located in Ośno in Poland. The site was built in 1934 and still exists.

    
Drossen Thingplatz, in a period view and as it appears today. (courtesy Stanislaw Cegielka)

 

Eichstätt - Anhöhe, north of Eichstätt, built 1935-36.

    
Eichstätt Thingstätte - from period postcards.

     
The Eichstätt Thingstätte remains today in a ruined condition, on a hill just northwest of the Eichstätt suburb of Wintershof, overlooking a bend in the Altmühl River. The site has a magnificent view of the city with its medieval fortress. The stone stage and semi-circular seating area are just downhill from the famous Cholera Cross of 1831. Click here to see the Hitler Jugend home in Eichstätt.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Freyburg an der Unstrut - Thingplatz Neuenburg - built 1934-37.

 

Giebelstadt - The area in front of the ruins of the Florian Geyer castle were used as a Thingplatz; now used for the "Florian Geyer" outdoor drama in the summer. (Florian Geyer was a leader in the 16th century peasants' revolt called the Bauernkrieg, and adopted as a popular hero by the Nazis.)

   
Florian Geyer Thingplatz today. (photo on right courtesy Greg Pitty)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Halle/Saale - Thingplatz on the Brandbergen - first Thingplatz to be built - opened 5 June 1934.

    
Halle Thingplatz, from a 1935-dated photo and postcard.


An overall view of the Halle Thingplatz (courtesy Helko Trentzsch).


Remains of the Halle Thingplatz stage today (courtesy Helko Trentzsch).   (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Heidelberg - Thingstätte on the Heiligenberg - started in 1934, finished in 1935, still in existence - click here for info and photos.

    
Left - A Nazi gathering at the Heidelberg Thingstätte. (Kurpfälzisches Museum)
    
  
    (MapQuest Map Link)
Virtual Tour of the Heidelberg Thingstätte by Benjamin George  -- 
http://gardentaining.com/dililah/thingstatte_map_post.html

 

Herchen an der Sieg - built in 1935 and still in existence, apparently in good, though overgrown, condition.

     
Herchen Thingplatz, from a period postcard.            (Modern photos courtesy Dirk Deichmann and Greg Pitty)

 

Holzminden - built in 1934 in the Stadt Park - still in good condition.

   
Holzminden Thingplatz, from a period postcard.  (modern photos courtesy Greg Pitty)
   
    
   
(period postcard and modern photo from the same viewpoint - photos donated)

 

Ilmenau - Funkenburg - I have no further info on this site.

 

Jülich (Rheinland) - Freilichtbühne built in 1934 in part of the old city fortifications and moat. The site is still in existence, although the area was badly damaged in a bombing attack in 1944. The site is now in the Brückenkopf Park.  (info courtesy Martin Fröhlich)

    
(courtesy Martin Fröhlich)  (MapQuest Map Link)

    
The Thingplatz was on a platform built out into the moat - the site is accessible today from inside the fortification (the site is where the trees are now).

 

Kamenz/Sachsen - Hutbergbühne Kamenz - Also called Waldbühne der Lausitz and Freilichtbühne Hutberg (now used for rock concerts and other events) - built in 1934-35. See  http://www.kamenz.de/kultur_hutbergbuehne.php.
May 2009 note - The Kamenz Thingplatz is being rebuilt, with most of the original stones being replaced. Thanks to Greg Pitty for this info.

     
Kamenz Thingplatz, from period postcard views and seen today.  (postcard views from James Lees, Hans Wellner, and the author's collection)

      
The photo on the right shows the Thingplatz during recent reconstruction.  (courtesy Greg Pitty)

   

   

   
Thingplatz Kamenz, from period postcards. The five columns on the hill behind the seating area were a World War I memorial on the Hutberg, the hill housing the Thingplatz. The bases of the memorial columns still exist at the site.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Koblenz - Thingstätte at the Schloß - built in 1935, damaged by Allied bombing in 1944, filled in by the Allies during the post-war occupation. The only evidence on the ground today is the trees that flanked the entrance pylons, although the outline of the site can still be seen in aerial photos.

   

Thingstätte in front of the Schloß, Koblenz.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Kuhlmühle - a Thingplatz was built for a national Hitler Jugend rally in July 1935.

  
(Bavarian State Library)

 

Leutkirch - built in 1934-40, converted to a children's playground after the war.

 

Lübeck - Freilichtbühne on Trave Island, built in 1934. In use today for entertainment venues.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Nordenburg, East Prussia - Thingplatz with Kriegerdenkmal (war memorial). This site is now in the village of Krylovo, Russia (on the Polish border). See http://www.fortunecity.de/lindenpark/hundertwasser/509/stadt.htm.


Nordenburg Thingplatz/Kriegerdenkmal, from a period postcard. (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Northeim - north of Göttingen - Freilichtbühne or Weihestätte built 1934-36, incorporating existing linden trees into the structure. Now called the "Waldbühne" and used for open-air performances and concerts.  See http://www.turngemeinde-northeim.de/geschichte_7.htm.

    
    
    
Northeim Thingplatz.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Oldenburg-Brokhausen - Feierstätte Stedingsehre, built 1934-35. 

 

Passau - Thingplatz at the Veste Oberhaus, built 1934-35 beside the old fortress. The site was opened in 1935 with the pyrotechnic program "From the World War to the Third Reich - the Time from 1914-1934." The site exists today in a ruined condition.

    
Passau Thingplatz during construction, and its appearance today.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Rheinsberg - Thingplatz "Deutschlandlager," built for a Hitler Youth rally in 1935.

 

Rostock - Built 1934 at the Tiergarten. The somewhat modified site is today the Platz der Jugend. 

   
Rostock Thingstätte in 1934.

 

Rothenfels am Main  - The Thingplatz bei der Linde was near the Rothenfels Castle on the Main River.

    
Rothenfels Thingplatz, from a period postcard. (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Schildau, near Leipzig - I have no further info on this site.

    
Thingplatz at Schildau, from period postcards  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Schwarzenberg (Erzgebirge) - Thingplatz/Waldbühne "Grenzlandfeierstätte Erzgebirge" - built 1934-37, with seating for 22,000. Now called the Feierstätte im Rockelmannpark. See http://www.pension-weisser-hirsch.de/szb_s2.htm.

    
Schwarzenberg Thingplatz in 1935 (left) and 1938.  (MapQuest Map Link)
    
    
(period images above courtesy Sven Söllner)

    

 

Seebad Heringsdorf/Ahlbeck - Thingstätte for the Heringsdorf and Ahlbeck resorts on the Baltic coast - opened 1 May 1934. Sometimes called the Waldstadion Heringsdorf.

    

    


Thingstätte at Heringsdorf/Ahlbeck

 

Soldin - This Pommeranian town (now Myslibórz in Poland) was the site of a Feierstätte built next to the Soldiner See lake in 1934-39.

 

St. Goarshausen / Rhein - Loreley-Freilichtbühne - built 1934-1939 on the famous Loreley rock, overlooking the Rhein River. Now used for pop concerts, opera, and other performances. See http://www.loreley-touristik.de/deutsch/aktuell/history.html.

    
Loreley Thingplatz, from a period postcard (courtesy James Lees)  (MapQuest Map Link)

Loreley Thingplatz, from a period postcard (author's collection)
    
Loreley Thingplatz, from a 1938 photo (author's collection)
    


A view of the Lorely Thingplatz taken by a U.S. Army photographer in May 1945.
(US National Archives, RG 111SC-335294, courtesy Marc Romanych)

Stolzenau - built in 1934 as the first Thingplatz in Niedersachsen. Only a few stones of the lower seats and platform in front of the stage remain (thanks to Greg Pitty for info).

   

 

Tilsit/Memel, East Prussia - Thingplatz built in 1934-35. Now located in the town of Sovetsk, Russia, on the Lithuanian border. See http://www.tilsit.com/main.htmlhttp://www.leiserowitz.de/Juden/tilsitenglish.html.

    

    

    

    
Tilsit Thingplatz, from 1935-1940 dated postcards.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Vogelsang - This was not a public Thingplatz, but a Freilichtbühne that served the same purpose for cadets at the Ordensburg Vogelsang. Built in 1934-1936. A hillside seating area overlooked a semi-circular stage, above the sports field.

    
Views of the Freilichtbühne at Burg Vogelsang from period postcards.

    
Views of the Freilichtbühne at Burg Vogelsang from below (left) and above.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Werder/Havel - Remains can still be seen, but the site is in bad condition today.

    
Thingplatz at Werder, from a 1936 postcard.


Werder Thingplatz today.  (Thanks to Jens Minkwitz for the modern photo and info.)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Zella - Burg Gemeinde - Thingplatz Gau Thüringen - I have no further info on this site.


Zella Thingplatz, from a 1936-dated postcard.

 

Zwickau - The site still exists, beside the Schwanenteich lake in Zwickau, now called the Freilichtbühne am See. (Thanks to Jens Minkwitz for info)

    
Zwickau Thingplatz, from a period postcard.                    Photo copyright © Andreas Breitbarth.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

(For further information on the Thing sites and movement, see Robert R. Taylor's The Word in Stone, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1974, pp. 190, 206, 210-218; and Helmut Weihsmann's Bauen unterm Hakenkreuz, Vienna, Promedia, 1998, pp. 197-205.)

 

 

Third Reich in Ruins, http://www.thirdreichruins.com/

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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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