“Un-German” art was that which was pure art and had nothing to do with the “good” of the Nazi ideologies and Germany as a whole. The power to control artists was handed to him by the March 1933 Enabling Act, and through it, he could enforce whatever Nazi ideologies he wished into the artists’ world, whether it was painting, drawing, dancing, performing arts, or architecture. In his abuse of the Act, Hitler directed that artists were to be “politically reliable”. This elaborated, Hitler meant that all art should praise him, and if one failed to apply this in their art, they would be denied the right to conduct their activities in Nazi Germany.
This twist of events expelled many artists from Germany, but Leni Riefenstahl did not seem affected. The lives of artists were further made worse when Hitler displayed what he termed as “degenerate art”, which was a display set up in Munich in 1936 to act as a guide of telling artists what was acceptable and what was rejected. In concealing his agenda, Hitler hosted hundreds of art competitions and offered cash prizes to those who presented works with strong Nazi and German ideologies. Leni Riefenstahl was not spared either.
Rather, Hitler tried to keep her as a friend of his Nazi party because he liked her way of applying aesthetics in film to direct motion pictures. His idea was to use her unique abilities of reaching the audience to spread his rule all over Germany and the world. Her tools of work included cameras and motion picture video captures unique in that she used to track rails and cranes to get amazing shots which were unique at that time.
Amongst her first works for the Nazi regime was the Victory of Faith film, which she shot at a party rally in Nuremberg. Her work impressed Hitler, who offered her a large reward which she was hesitant in taking. She, however accepted his offer of providing her with full license to run her motion pictures and unlimited resources to foster her work. It is unclear whether the offers were responsible for her success which followed such as the shooting of Olympia which captured the Berlin Summer Olympic Games of 1936 which earned her several awards and global recognition3.
However, her later relationships with the Nazi party were not as she expected, especially after witnessing the brutality and attacks of the British troops whom she accompanied at times. She was as confident as to approach Hitler and request him to end the brutality of his army, and from there, her association with the Nazis began fading.
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