Thingspiele

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"Thingplatz" and "Thingstätte" redirect here. For the ancient Germanic assembly, see Thing (assembly).
Thingplatz at Ordensburg Vogelsang
Feierstätte der Schlesier at the Annaberg in Silesia in a Nazi-era photograph
Heidelberg Thingstätte

A Thingspiel (plural Thingspiele) was a kind of multi-disciplinary outdoor theatre which enjoyed brief popularity in pre-war Nazi Germany during the 1930s. A Thingplatz or Thingstätte was a specially-constructed outdoor amphitheatre built for such performances. About 400 were planned, but only about 40 were built between 1933 and 1939.

Here, the Volk would gather for völkisch meetings and to view theatre and propaganda presentations. A Thing was an ancient Nordic/Germanic gathering of the people, in an outdoor setting. The Thing sites were to be built as much as possible in a natural setting, incorporating rocks, trees, bodies of water, ruins, and hills of some historical or mythic significance.[1]

The first officially designated Thingplatz was dedicated on 1 May 1934 in the Brandberge in Halle.[2] 400 Thing sites were planned, but only approximately 40 were built.[3][4] They were intended to be used for immersive multi-disciplinary theatre of a new type. As set out in a 1934 speech by Reich drama advisor Rainer Schlösser, the objective was "a drama that intensifies historical events to create a mythical, universal, unambiguous reality beyond reality."[5][6] However, Hitler himself was not a big believer in the revival of ancient Germanic practices, and outdoor performances were not popular in the commonly cold and damp German weather. It proved impossible to build so many new theatres quickly, and playwrights also failed to write enough suitable works. Beginning in 1935, many existing and all new Thing sites were renamed to Feierstätten (festival sites) or Freilichtbühnen (open-air theatres)[7] and they were used for performances of conventional plays and folk festivals such as those celebrating the summer solstice. One of the promoters of the movement died, and by 1937, when Joseph Goebbels officially withdrew support from the movement, it had already petered out.[8][9] The one successful Thingspiel was Eberhard Wolfgang Möller's Frankenburger Würfelspiel, which received its première at the Dietrich-Eckart-Bühne in Berlin in 1936 in association with the 1936 Summer Olympics.[10]

Since 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 as well as for theatre.

Completed theatres[edit]

Official[edit]

According to Rainer Stommer in his study of the Thing movement, the following official sites were completed (date is that of completion or dedication):[11]

Unofficial[edit]

Stommer lists the following theatres that were not officially sanctioned but are known to have been completed (with date of completion or dedication):[12]

Others inspired by or used by the Thing movement but not listed by Stommer include:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Glen Gadberry, "The Thingspiel and Das Frankenberger Wurfelspiel", The Drama Review 24.1, March 1980, pp. 103–14, p. 105.
  2. ^ Rainer Stommer, Die inszenierte Volksgemeinschaft: die "Thing-Bewegung" im Dritten Reich, Marburg: Jonas, 1985, ISBN 9783922561316 (German), pp. 61–62, 212, points out that although the Halle Thingplatz was officially the first, the arena at Heringsdorf was begun earlier and dedicated the same day; it was only later given the name Thingplatz, possibly so as not to overshadow that at Halle.
  3. ^ Frank Knittermeier, "Bad Segeberg: Heute vor 70 Jahren wurde in der Kreisstadt die Kalkbergarena eröffnet. Es begann 1937 - als Feierstätte der Nazis", Hamburger Abendblatt, 10 October 2007 (German) (paywalled): "400 Feierstätten dieser Art wollten die Nazis in Großdeutschland bauen. Nach dem Masterplan des Regierungsbaumeisters Schaller werden schließlich jedoch nur 40 fast baugleiche Stätten errichtet."
  4. ^ According to Geoff Walden, Thingplatz / Thingstätte Sites, Third Reich in Ruins, about 1,200 were planned and about 45 built.
  5. ^ Karl-Heinz Schoeps, Literature and Film in the Third Reich, tr. Kathleen M. Dell'Orto, Studies in German Literature, Linguistics, and Culture, Rochester, New York: Boydell & Brewer/Camden House, 2004, ISBN 1-57113-252-X, p. 153, wrongly dating the speech to 1935.
  6. ^ Gadberry, p. 104.
  7. ^ Gadberry, p. 106.
  8. ^ Gadberry, p. 114.
  9. ^ Schoeps, note 11, pp. 164–65.
  10. ^ Schoeps, p. 157.
  11. ^ Stommer, pp. 205–20.
  12. ^ Stommer, pp. 233–40.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rainer Stommer. Die inszenierte Volksgemeinschaft: die "Thing-Bewegung" im Dritten Reich. Marburg: Jonas, 1985. ISBN 9783922561316 (German)