Part I. Denazifying Leni
After World War II, Leni Riefenstahl couldn’t escape the Fuhrer’s shadow. Arrested first by American, then French troops, her property and money seized, she endured interrogations about her ties to the regime. Riefenstahl argued she’d been coerced into making propaganda and wasn’t aware of Nazi atrocities. The image stuck: three denazification tribunals acquitted her (one cautiously branding her a “fellow traveler”), and Riefenstahl began the road to rehabilitation.
More diligent investigators challenged her self-portrait. In 1946, American journalist Budd Schulberg interviewed Riefenstahl for the Saturday Evening Post. Riefenstahl claimed she didn’t know about Nazi concentration camps. Later, asked why she made Triumph of the Will, Riefenstahl claimed Joseph Goebbels threatened her with a concentration camp. Disgusted with Riefenstahl’s self-serving contradictions, Schulberg labeled her a “Nazi Pin-Up Girl.”
Then the German tabloid Revue published a damning article in