1930s Nazi rallies featured an imposing 'cathedral of light'

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Following Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party's seizure of power in Germany in 1933, they began staging massive and intimidating annual rallies in Nuremberg.

The Nuremberg Rallies were held each September at specially designed assembly grounds which spanned 11 square kilometers.

The rallies, which were documented in Leni Riefenstahl's propaganda films, including Triumph of the Will, were meant as displays of unity, strength and German commitment to the Nazi cause.

Though the hundreds of thousands of party loyalists assembled on the grounds made for a fearsome sight, one of the most spectacular elements of the rallies was architect Albert Speer's "cathedral of light."

See more of the Nuremberg Rallies:

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The Nuremberg Rallies
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The Nuremberg Rallies
19th December 1934: German chancellor Adolf Hitler salutes a crowd of 60,000 at a Hitler Youth rally at Nuremberg. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
The 1936 Nuremberg Rally of Honour. (Photo by Past Pix/SSPL/Getty Images)
The 1936 Nuremberg Rally of Honour. (Photo by Past Pix/SSPL/Getty Images)
Photograph of the Nazi rally in the Cathedral of Light, a main aesthetic feature of the Nuremberg Rallies. Dated 1937. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Germany, Third Reich - NSDAP Nuremberg Rally 1936 A torch-lit procession through Nuremberg (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) NAZI PARTY RALLY, 1938. German Chancellor Adolf Hitler speaking at the annual Nazi Party rally at Zeppelin Field, Nuremberg, Germany. In the background is the 'Cathedral of Light' designed by Albert Speer. Photographed 9 September 1938. (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Nuremberg Rally 1937 The 'dome of light' over the rally ground during a mass parade at night - 1937 - Photographer: Presse-Illustrationen Heinrich Hoffmann - Published by: 'Koralle' 06/1938 Vintage property of ullstein bild (Photo by Heinrich Hoffmann/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Germany, Third Reich - NSDAP Nuremberg Rally 1936 Nazi leaders lined up during a nighttime speech by Hitler at the rally ground; (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Germany, Third Reich - Nuremberg Rally 1937 Hitler and other Nazi leaders watching from the hotel balcony a military ceremony at the closing of the party convention; (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 11: The Fuhrer Before His Parading Troops At The National-Socialist Party Rally In Nuremberg On September 11-12, 1938. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
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Initially conceived as an ad hoc substitute for an unfinished stadium, the cathedral was composed of 152 anti-aircraft searchlights placed at 12-meter intervals and pointed skyward. The result was a gleaming wall of light encircling the rally and making it visible for miles around.

The 152 searchlights of the cathedral actually represented most of the country's entire supply. Hermann Göring, commander of the Luftwaffe, objected to such an allocation of strategic resources, but Hitler believed their ceremonial use could trick other nations into believing Germany had far more searchlights than they actually did.

The 1939 rally, planned to be called the "Rally of Peace," was canceled at the last minute as Germany invaded Poland and sparked World War II.

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