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.)
Augsburg - Freilichtbühne - I have no further info on this site.
Bad Schmiedeberg - second Thingplatz, "Dübender Heide," opened in September 1934.
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 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.
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.
Berlin - Dietrich-Eckart-Bühne - click here for info and photos.
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.
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)
Brahmsee - Thingplatz on the Brahmsee lakeside in Schleswig-Holstein - I have no further info.
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.
"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. Click here
to view several more then-and-now photos of this site.
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.)
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.
Drossen - Kreis West-Sternberg - now located in Ośno in Poland. The site was built in 1934 and still exists.
Eichstätt - Anhöhe, north of Eichstätt, built 1935-36.
Freyburg an der Unstrut - Thingplatz Neuenburg - built 1934-37.
Friedland, East Prussia - now Pravdinsk, Russia. (see http://www.eastprussia.ru/eastprussia-thingplatz/ )
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.)
Halle/Saale - Thingplatz on the Brandbergen - first Thingplatz to be built - opened 5 June 1934.
Heidelberg - Thingstätte on the Heiligenberg - started in 1934, finished in 1935, still in existence - click here for info and photos.
Herchen an der Sieg - built in 1935 and still in existence, apparently in good, though overgrown, condition.
Holzminden - built in 1934 in the Stadt Park - still in good condition.
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)
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.
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.
Kuhlmühle - a Thingplatz was built for a national Hitler Jugend rally in July 1935.
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.eastprussia.ru/eastprussia-thingplatz/.
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.
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.
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.
Rößel (Roessel), East Prussia - Thingplatz as Freilichtbühne - now the town of Reszel in Poland.
Rothenfels am Main - The Thingplatz bei der Linde was near the Rothenfels Castle on the Main River.
Schildau, near Leipzig - I have no further info on this site.
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.
Seebad Heringsdorf/Ahlbeck - Thingstätte for the Heringsdorf and Ahlbeck resorts on the Baltic coast - opened 1 May 1934. Sometimes called the Waldstadion Heringsdorf.
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. (This site was remodeled in 2016-17, so the appearance may be
different from the modern photos below.)
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, 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.html, http://www.leiserowitz.de/Juden/tilsitenglish.html.
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.
Werder/Havel - Remains can still be seen, but the site is in bad condition today.
Zella - Burg Gemeinde - Thingplatz Gau Thüringen - I have no further info on this site.
Zwickau - The site still exists, beside the Schwanenteich lake in Zwickau, now called the Freilichtbühne am See. (Thanks to Jens Minkwitz for info)
(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.