Erster Mai 1938 Lahr

Events filmed or related

Umzug 1. Mai 1938 in Lahr


The May 1st rally in 1938 in Lahr with a parade is repeated on May 2nd due to the bad weather.


Reference / film number :  LFS00242
Date :  1938
Coloration :  Black and white
Sound :  Mute
Running time :  00:07:02
Reel format :  16 mm
Genre :  Documentary
Archive :  Haus des Dokumentarfilms

Context and analysis

Rainy snow is falling on May 1st, 1938 in Lahr. The puddles shine in the courtyard where the event is taking place, and the march that passes in front of the camera in three rows seems strangely reserved - the Nazi people also wear civilian coats. The many civilians who join with hats and umbrellas reinforce the unusual picture on this day, which has been the national holiday of the German people since 1934. Nothing reminds of the workers whose struggle was May 1st since the 19th century.

As early as 1933, May 1st had been designated by Adolf Hitler as the day of major events that served to reinterpret the day of the working class nationally. The central rally on the Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin became a mass propaganda event. On May 2, trade union houses were occupied, and leading officials were taken into protective custody. The independent unions could be smashed without resistance. And a year later, the guide gave a gift of a non-working holiday on May 1st for continued wages. The day had become the day of the national community, which was no longer related to work as the union had won it: a kind of spring festival with elements of the folk festival tradition.

With the march, the May Day celebrations in the courtyard in Lahr initially emerge as the assembly that they should be for the NSDAP members. In front of a wall in the courtyard the SS appeared in their black uniforms. The film camera appears to be almost the only observer. In the next shot, the civilians with umbrellas appear as an endlessly long line of spectators: the SA started on a sports field, the flag with the imperial eagle in the middle between the groups. There is a huge empty lawn between the spectators and the party.

The filmmaker's camera - it appears to be a professional documentary - films a dreary scene that takes on surreal features. Two pans are made across an empty space in which the march of the party groups does not develop its suggestive effect - they appear lost in a grey in grey, in which the banality of the staging of power emerges. Just like in the front view of the SA department, in addition to which another group with swastika flags comes into view.

The float of the city of Lahr is in the sleet, only a dark figure in uniform can be seen next to it. The festival day also gives a gloomy picture of everyday life in the city center, and the filmmaker helps himself to film the car with the house models from different sides. Then the SA groups march in line towards the camera - the only visible spectators in the windows raise their arms to salute Hitler. The marchers are flanked by open military vehicles and motorcycles, but the parade does not want to form a suggestive picture. The crowd, the crowd, is missing so that the march can work. The event doesn't want to get going. Not even when the march with the show cars becomes a real pageant. Whether it is the weaver's wagon, the electrical industry or the 'gasworks' followers, between whom Nazi groups and men in civilian clothes keep pushing themselves - it remains the 'material' of a pageant, captured by a camera, which - as before on the sports field - indicates the domain to which the holiday scene has become.

Suddenly he is back, the city administration car, in color and when the weather is fine. The film immediately visualizes the banner that hangs on it - the invitation to decorate the house with flowers - and looks at the balcony balustrades decorated with flowers. The images jump back in black and white, showing the parade that was repeated on May 2nd. Now they are there, the spectators, in the foreground in front of the passing cars, in the background on the sidewalk. There is more to be seen than before, according to the motif car with the huge calendar page, and the Hitler Youth are also moving towards the camera. The event is taking place. It only becomes an event with an audience - but in the film it appears before the slide of the previous day: before the emptiness of the rain pictures, which make the repetition of the pageant visible as the political staging that it is. Reiner Bader

Places and monuments


  1. This film analysis is still in progress. It may therefore be incomplete and contain errors.