Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, November 07, 2021

Among the odder remnants of Germany’s Nazi era is the Heidelberg Thingstätte:

The Thingstätte in Heidelberg was started in 1934 and finished the following year. Situated on the Heiligenberg (Holy Mountain), the amphitheater covers 25 meters of sloping land and overlooks the city. The mountain is littered with ancient burial grounds and once hosted a Roman temple at the summit dedicated to the god Mercury.

Designed by the architect H. Alker, who worked for the Reich Labor Service, the Heidelberg Thingstätte features two hexagonal towers constructed to hold flags, lighting, and sound. On the opening day, 20,000 people turned out to hear [Nazi propaganda minister Joseph] Goebbels himself. After the Thingstätte fell out of favor, this site was turned into a public park and remains one to this day.

An outdoor pavilion itself isn’t all that odd. But its inspiration was:

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.

(Note that the Germanic “thing” still exists: Iceland’s parliament is called the Allthing. Ironically, Scandinavians mostly dismissed Nazi Aryan propaganda.)

Basically, the Nazis sought to supplant Judeo-Christian mores with a pseudo-pagan ideology, presumably more easily subject to state control. These public works were one part of a broader effort that coalesced into the Kirchenkampf, or “struggle against the churches” — a battle for the everyday hearts and minds of Germans. Had World War II not come along, it’s chilling to think of how all this would have culminated; not to diminish the horror of the Holocaust, but it could have become just the tip of an iceberg.

Instead, the Heidelberg monument now serves as an entertainment venue. Secular neutralization, with physical utility trumping ideology.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/07/2021 09:22pm
Category: History, Political
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback