Leni Riefenstahl

Film Director + Dancer and Actress
Born Aug 22, 1902

Helene Bertha Amalie "Leni" Riefenstahl was a German film director, actress and dancer widely noted for her aesthetics and innovations as a filmmaker. Her most famous film was Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will), a propaganda film made at the 1934 Nuremberg congress of the Nazi Party.… Read More

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Helene Bertha Amalie Riefenstahl was born in Germany on 22 August 1902. … Read More


1918 15 Years Old In 1918, when she was 16, Riefenstahl attended a presentation of Snow White which interested her deeply; it led her to want to be a dancer. … Read More


1924 21 Years Old It was while going to a doctor's appointment that she first saw a poster for the 1924 film Der Berg des Schicksals ("The Mountain of Destiny"). … Read More
1926 23 Years Old Riefenstahl later received a package from Fanck containing the script of the 1926 film Der Heilige Berg ("The Holy Mountain"). … Read More
1929 26 Years Old One of Fanck's films that brought Riefenstahl into the limelight was Die Weisse Hölle vom Piz Palü ("The White Hell of Piz Palü") of 1929, co-directed by G. W. Pabst. … Read More
1932 29 Years Old 1 More Event
Riefenstahl produced and directed her own work called Das Blaue Licht ("The Blue Light") in 1932, co-written by Carl Mayer and Béla Balázs. … Read More


1933 - 1934 2 More Events
1935 32 Years Old Despite allegedly vowing not to make any more films about the Nazi Party, Riefenstahl made the 28-minute Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht ("Day of Freedom: Our Armed Forces") about the German Army in 1935. … Read More
1936 33 Years Old Hitler invited Riefenstahl to film the 1936 Summer Olympics scheduled to be held in Berlin, a film which Riefenstahl claimed had been commissioned by the International Olympic Committee. … Read More
1937 34 Years Old …  In February 1937, Riefenstahl enthusiastically told a reporter for the Detroit News, "To me, Hitler is the greatest man who ever lived. … Read More
1938 35 Years Old 1 More Event
Olympia premiered for Hitler's 49th birthday in 1938.
1939 36 Years Old 1 More Event
When Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, Riefenstahl was photographed in Poland wearing a military uniform and a pistol on her belt in the company of German soldiers; she had gone to Poland as a war correspondent. … Read More
1940 37 Years Old 1 More Event
On 14 June 1940, the day Paris was declared an open city by the French and occupied by German troops, Riefenstahl wrote to Hitler in a telegram, "With indescribable joy, deeply moved and filled with burning gratitude, we share with you, my Führer, your and Germany's greatest victory, the entry of German troops into Paris. … Read More


1944 41 Years Old The last time Riefenstahl saw Hitler was when she married Peter Jacob on 21 March 1944.
1945 42 Years Old As Germany's military situation became impossible by early 1945, Riefenstahl left Berlin and was hitchhiking with a group of men, trying to reach her mother, when she was taken into custody by American troops. … Read More
1946 43 Years Old Riefenstahl and Jacob divorced in 1946.


1954 51 Years Old She edited and dubbed the remaining material and Tiefland premiered on 11 February 1954 in Stuttgart. … Read More
1956 53 Years Old …  She visited Kenya for the first time in 1956 and later Sudan, where she photographed Nuba tribes with whom she sporadically lived, learning about their culture so she could photograph them more easily. … Read More


1974 - 1978 4 More Events
2000 97 Years Old Riefenstahl survived a helicopter crash in Sudan in 2000 while trying to learn the fates of her Nuba friends during the Second Sudanese Civil War and was airlifted to a Munich hospital.
2002 99 Years Old 1 More Event
On 22 August 2002, her 100th birthday, she released the film Impressionen unter Wasser ("Underwater Impressions"), an idealized documentary of life in the oceans and her first film in over 25 years. … Read More
2003 100 Years Old 2 More Events
Riefenstahl celebrated her 101st birthday on 22 August 2003 at a hotel in Feldafing, on Lake Starnberg, Bavaria, near her home. … Read More
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