Leni Riefenstahl

From Metapedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Leni Riefenstahl

Helene "Leni" Bertha Amalie Riefenstahl (b. 22 August 1902 in Berlin; d. 8 September 2003 in Pöcking near München, Bavaria) was a German film director, dancer and actress widely noted for her aesthetics and innovations as a filmmaker.


Leni Riefenstahl during the film preparations for "Triumph of the Will"
Leni Riefenstahl with her cameraman during the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Leni Riefenstahl 1938
Leni Riefenstahl 2003

Her most famous film was Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will), which was made at the 1934 Nuremberg congress of the NSDAP. Riefenstahl's prominence in National Socialist Germany thwarted her film career following the defeat in World War II, after which she was arrested, but never convicted of war crimes. She later said that her biggest regret was meeting Hitler:

"It was the biggest catastrophe of my life. Until the day I die people will keep saying, 'Leni is a National socialist', and I'll keep saying, 'But what did she do?'"

She won more than fifty libel cases. After the war, she turned to photography, and later, scuba diving.

Leni Riefenstahl has been, and still is, a much-discussed person. She has been called many things, and given many labels. She has been called a liar, a man-eater, a Nazi, an extraordinary talent and a genius. She was an actress, director, dancer, filmmaker and photographer. In her career, she has done everything between making Nazi propaganda films, to taking photos of Mick Jagger, to photograph unknown tribes in Africa. Leni had many talents, but her great passion, and what she is best known for is her great filmmaking. She was the brain behind the masterpiece of propaganda films Triumph of the Will [1935] , which she made for Hitler and the Nazi Party before World War 2. She was a close friend to Hitler before and during the war, and as described in Bach (2007 p.388) she is probably best known as “Hitler’s Filmmaker”. [...] To even begin to understand her complex character and her work, one must know her full story. The way from her adolescence in Berlin, until she turned in to be one of the world’s most famous filmmakers and photographers, with the help from her great talent, and of Adolf Hitler. [...] At the age of 16 Leni attended dancing lessons, paid for by her mother, kept a secret from her father. She was very confidant, and determined to do something great with her life. After a while she was dancing in venues all over Germany, and she also got bookings in Prague and Zurich.[1]


Leni's father, Alfred Theodor Paul Riefenstahl, was a plumber by profession. Later in life he became a successful businessman. Her mother was Bertha Ida Riefenstahl, and Leni had one younger brother, Heinz. On 21 March 1944, Riefenstahl married in Kitzbühel the Wehrmacht officer and Knight's Cross holder Oberstleutnant Karl Eugen Hans-Peter Jacob.


  • 1932: Silbermedaille bei den Internationalen Filmfestspielen von Venedig für Das blaue Licht
  • 1934: National Board of Review – Auszeichnung von Das blaue Licht als einer der Top Foreign Films
  • 1935: Auszeichnung für die beste ausländische Dokumentation bei den Internationalen Filmfestspielen von Venedig für Triumph des Willens
  • 1935: Nationaler Filmpreis
  • 1936: Deutsche Olympia-Ehrenzeichen, 2nd Class
  • 1937: Grand Prix für Triumph des Willens auf der Pariser Weltfachausstellung
  • 1938: Nationaler Filmpreis
  • 1938: Coppa Mussolini für den besten ausländischen Film bei den Internationalen Filmfestspielen von Venedig für Olympia
  • 1938: Polar-Preis von Schweden für Olympia
  • 1938: Ehrenpreis der Regierung von Griechenland für Olympia
  • 1939: Olympische Goldmedaille des Internationalen Olympischen Komitees für Olympia
  • 1941: Japanischer Kinema-Jumpō-Preis für den besten fremdsprachigen Film für Olympia
  • 1948: Olympisches Diplom
  • 1956: Olympia wird von einem Fachgremium in Hollywood unter die „zehn besten Filme aller Zeiten“ gewählt.
  • 1974: Auszeichnung mit der Telluride Film Festival Silver Medallion
  • 1975: Goldmedaille des Art Directors Club für die „beste fotografische Leistung des Jahres“
  • 1997: Preis für ihr Lebenswerk von der VS-amerikanischen Cineasten-Vereinigung Cinecon
  • 2001: Olympischer Orden des IOC


As actress

  • 1925: Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit ("Ways to Strength and Beauty") as Dancer
  • 1926: Der heilige Berg ("The Holy Mountain") as Diotima
  • 1927: Der große Sprung ("The Great Leap") as Gita
  • 1928: Das Schicksal derer von Habsburg ("Fate of the House of Habsburg") as Maria Vetsera
  • 1929: Die weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü ("The White Hell of Pitz Palu") as Maria Maioni
  • 1930: Stürme über dem Mont Blanc ("Storm Over Mont Blanc") as Hella Armstrong
  • 1931: Der weiße Rausch ("The White Ecstasy") as Leni
  • 1932: Das blaue Licht ("The Blue Light") as Junta
  • 1933: S.O.S. Eisberg ("S.O.S. Iceberg") as Hella, seine Frau
  • 1954: Tiefland ("Lowlands") as Martha, eine spanische Betteltänzerin (final film role)

As director

  • 1932: Das blaue Licht ("The Blue Light")
  • 1933: Der Sieg des Glaubens ("The Victory of Faith")
  • 1935: Triumph des Willens ("Triumph of the Will")
  • 1935: Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht ("Day of Freedom: Our Armed Forces")
  • 1937: Wilde Wasser ("Wild Water")
  • 1938: Olympia
  • 1954: Tiefland ("Lowlands")
  • 1965: Allein unter den Nuba ("Alone Among the Nuba") (Unreleased)
  • 2002: Impressionen unter Wasser ("Impressions under Water")


  • (1973). Die Nuba [The Last of the Nuba]. ISBN 978-0-312-13642-0.
  • (1976). Die Nuba von Kau [The Nuba People of Kau]. ISBN 978-0-312-16963-3.
  • (1978). Korallengärten [Coral Gardens]. ISBN 978-0-06-013591-1.
  • (1982). Mein Afrika [Vanishing Africa]. ISBN 978-0-517-54914-8.
  • (1987). Leni Riefenstahl's Memoiren [Leni Riefenstahl's Memoir]. ISBN 978-3-8228-0834-4.
  • (1990). Wunder unter Wasser [Wonder under Water]. ISBN 978-3-7766-1651-4.
  • (1995). Leni Riefenstahl: a memoir. New York: Picador. ISBN 9780312119263. (reviewed by bell hooks[98])
  • (2002). Africa. ISBN 978-3-8228-1616-5.
  • (2002). Riefenstahl Olympia. ISBN 978-3-8228-1945-6.

External link


  1. The Many Names of Leni Riefenstahl, GRIN Verlag, München 2012