leni Riefenstahl Biography
Helene Amalia Bertha
Riefenstahl was born on august 22, 1902 in berlin.
She started taking ballet
lessons at the age of 16. as a young lady, she took
art lessions at the 'staatliche kunstgewerbeschule für
zeichnen und malen' and she studied at the russian
ballet school in berlin.
soon she was
choreographing her own performances and designing her
own costumes. by 1924, she was appearing in
performances in major cities throughout europe.
in the same year,
riefenstahl began appearing in films.she began her
acting career in the films of dr. arnold fanck, a
geologist who made 'mountain movies' that glorified
rural german life.
riefenstahl gave up
dancing all together (she had an accident which left
her unable to dance anymore) and dedicated herself to
from 1924 to 1933 she was
a daredevil actress in many films by fanck.
-'the holy mountain' (der
- 'the big bound' (der
her last film under
fanck's direction was
- 'sos iceberg' (s.o.s.
in 1932, she became
internationally famous as a woman producer, director
and leading actress with her first feature film 'the
blue light' (das blaue licht).
leni riefenstahl then
founded her own film production company,
'riefenstahl-studiofilm gmbh' in 1933, and throughout
the period of the third reich, riefenstahl's ideals
were supported by adolf hitler.
He requested that she make
a film about the National Socialist party congress.
Riefenstahl agreed and the film was entitled 'the
triumph of belief' Documentary film about the NSDAP's
5th Reich Party Congress, which was held in Nuremberg
from August 30th until September 3rd 1933.
The Propaganda Ministry
through the central film hire services had lent the
film. Since the end of the war, it had been impossible
to get hold of a copy of it. Yet, there might be one
in the archives of the former GDR or the former Soviet
'the triumph of will'
(triumph des willens), her most famous documentary
film about the NSDAP's 6th Reich Party Congress in
Nuremberg from September 4th until September 10th
in 1935 she was awarded
the german national film prize for 'triumph of will'.
The film is still considered a masterpiece even by
jewish film makers. It is still required viewing at
most of the world's film schools. This film has become
unbelievably influential. T t is perhaps second only
to THE BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN as the most visually quoted
film in history.
Many current Hollywood
Producers have Stolen images the film: The closing
scene in STAR WARS, "Be Prepared" from THE LION KING,
and especially the entrance of Commodus into Rome from
GLADIATOR are all from TRIUMPH.
When hitler was voted
control of the government and began to outlaw
communist and other opposition parties, many jewish
film makers left germany. The cleansing of the film
industry made it easier for leni riefenstahl to rise
to the top. Some crew members refused to work for her.
But Adolf Hitler loved her efforts and continued to
give her artistic freedom and financial support.
one of her most prized
films was about the berlin olympics held in 1936.
Never before had a filmmaker attempted to shoot
athletic events the way she had. She used balloons,
catapults and rubber rafts to get the angles she
needed. Riefenstahl even dug a hole on the side of the
field so that the pole
vaulters could be seen in
the air. At the venice film festival,
it won 'the coppa
mussolini', first prize. the runner-up was ' snow
white' by walt disney.
when she went to hollywood
to try to promote her film, she was snubbed. Hollywood
was already firmly in the hand of the jews with every
movie studio except Disney controlled by jews.
after the war, the film
industry was in shambles due to allied air raids. she
was blacklisted by the allied occupation forces who
decided whom was allowed to work in the film industry
From 1945-48 she was
accused having been a member of the national socialist
party and was jailed for three years in different
prisons and for three months in an insane asylum.
riefenstahl always seemed
unconcerned and unaware of the propagandist effects of
her films. she insisted that her involvement with the
nazi party was never political.
in 1949 she was
"denazified" by the court in frieburg on the 16th of
Blacklisted by the jewish
film Studios Leni was shut out of making movies for
Her next film came at the
At the age of 71.
Leni Riefenstahl attended
a diving course to be able to work as an underwater
photographer. Soon she became a master in this
With her two illustrated
books, The coral gardens and The wonders under water
she had caused a worldwide sensation and got further
honours and awards for them.
In 1987, Leni Riefenstahl
published her Memoirs which meanwhile have come out in
13 countries and reached a high circulation mainly in
Japan and in the USA.
In 1992, the documentary
film Die Macht der Bilder was produced over several
months at original scenes where she herself could
express her opinion about her life and her artistic
work. This film too got several international awards -
among them the Emmy Award in the USA and in Japan the
special price of the film critics.
Leni Riefenstahl died on
Monday 8 September 2003,in Poecking, Germany.
She passed just a few
weeks after her 101st birthday.
As National Socialists we
salute this great Lady and her service to the Reich.