Riefenstahl, Leni. Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993.
The chapter “Problems and Worries” in Leni Riefenstahl’s memoirs describes the harassment she received from Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, during the making of Olympia. Goebbels requested that she include less footage of “niggers” in the film and that she dismiss her press chief because of his marriage to a “non-Aryan” wife. Riefenstahl ignored both demands, and Goebbels resultantly cut off her funding in an effort to take over production of the film. She appealed to Hitler, giving him a police report indicating the Ministry of Propaganda had previously had members of her staff arrested. Her work was then removed from the auspices of the Ministry of Propaganda and placed under Rudolf Hess, which, to Riefenstahl’s delight, ended any harassment and interference during the film’s production.
This chapter is significant to the question of Olympia as propaganda because it supports Riefenstahl’s claim that her work was not propaganda. Riefenstahl’s account describes her work as not an instrument of the Ministry of Propaganda, but rather a nuisance. She refused to bow to Goebbels’s demands that would have incorporated propagandistic elements into the film. When her film was removed from the Ministry’s authority, she noted that she felt liberated, suggesting that her film should be understood as artistically free and without political influence.