Emme Deamont MACS 101 25 February 2013 Censorship in Nazi Germany “But my magnificent youngsters!

Are there finer ones anywhere in the world? Look at these young men and boys! What material! With them I can make a new world" (Hitler 21). Beginning in the 1920s, the Third Reich specifically targeted the German youth with AntiSemitic and nationalistic propaganda in order to form a faithful army, and to initiate the creation of a master race. At the same time in history, Germany was “constructing its national identity distinct from America,” through the introduction of film into their culture (Byrd). After Louis Le Prince, the father of cinematography, invented the first moving picture using paper film in 1888, film grew as a means of communication, entertainment, and mass media, and so film naturally spread to other countries as well (Restoration and Appreciation Society). Though early cinema in Germany did draw upon Hollywood films from America, the concept of film censorship in each of these countries was vastly different. While the purpose of censorship in the United States focused on avoiding taboo subjects and upholding a high social standard, censorship in Germany was used for the suppression of the people‟s knowledge, and to ultimately revise history. Censorship, in the context of Nazi Germany, is very closely intertwined with propaganda, simply because propaganda played such a significant role in Germany at this time. The way that the Nazi Party took such extreme control over film regulation exemplifies how this was a special case of censorship, and how censorship functions differently in specific countries The Nazi regime censored films with a purpose in mind: to deceive their country, especially the youth, to promote the ideals in film as crucial to one‟s morality, and to one‟s faith in their nation.

But the imitation of Walt Disney films was short lived. His extremely Anti-Semitic films were manipulative to the general public. As history progressed. or has a brutalizing or immoral effect” (Reeves 97-98). “which imposed much stricter censorship and control at every stage of the production process” (Reeves 97). Goebbels took complete control in the restructuring of Germany‟s film industry.In the aftermath of World War I. Germany‟s development of a film culture was very weak due to the Depression and high cost for new sound technologies (Reeves 94). This entailed submitting an initial proposal and a full script. both which could be scrutinized at any point in time. he established the Reich Cinema Law of February 1934. and then further regulation during the filming process. Joseph Goebbels became one of the most notorious film producers in Nazi Germany as he took on his role as Reich Propaganda Leader in in 1929 (Wistrich). German directors actually borrowed Hollywood techniques: “Even Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels urged German filmmakers to model their work after Gone With The Wind and Disney films to ensure popularity and win big audiences” (Byrd). so did film production and the ways in which it was portrayed to the public sphere. was facilitated through the regulation and censorship of films. of course. but meeting the criteria in the German film industry during the 1930s was very subjective: a film could have been banned based on whether it “…endangers the interests of the State…offends National Socialist. This idea of manipulation. moral. or artistic feeling. In 1932. and even more so to the Hitler Youth which he and the Nazi regime was trying to target. films then had to go through Censorship Offices. This is similar to the process of American film regulation today. as the German government shifted toward its totalitarian state in 1933. After passing all of these regulations. After excluding all Jews from the industry. And if these standards were not ambiguous enough. Goebbels also gained the right to re-examine or ban any film . religious.

but two years later. however. this film did not register as such an extreme measure of censorship to the German public because their perception of media became so distorted from manipulation. he would eliminate scenes that portrayed him as socially acceptable. Since the Germans used censorship to create a sense of nationalism in such a biased and misleading way.” and he changed the ending to leave Süss humiliated. and that he “should produce political films and not [the kind of] films that he would make in peacetime” (Rentschler). “begging for his life” (Fox and Ott 162). Goebbels was “infuriated” when he saw the original version of Jud Süss because it was not Anti-Semitic enough.without reason in June of 1935 (Reeves 98). making the main Jewish character of the film seem more evil. reveals his cruel agenda to subliminally impose Nazi ideology on the German population. Jud Süss. they were scheduled monthly beginning in 1934. Incorporating film into education systems and organizing “Film Hours” for the Hitler Youth became a huge opportunity for Goebbels to distribute his censored films to young audiences. newsreels and featured . This example displays how closely propaganda and censorship were intertwined specifically during this period of time in Germany. thus showing again how censorship itself can operate in so many ways. One of the most well known Anti-Semitic films of all time. designed to influence its viewer as to how the general populace should perceive the Jews in Germany. Goebbels' deceitful influence also carried over to the Hitler Youth Organization. At first. The fact that Goebbels would go through so much effort to portray a Jewish character so negatively in cinema. operates as a piece of propaganda. In 1930s Nazi Germany. add new lines to “make his character less sympathetic. the motive behind Jud Süss is very clear. Goebbels actually ended up taking over the editing of the film. According to Harlan. depending on the country. directed by Veit Harlan and edited by Joseph Goebbels in 1940. Watching this film today. these concepts go hand in hand.

and to influence children‟s perspectives for the benefit of the party. but rather to the interests of the Nazi Party. in which the teacher would add commentary in the background (Reeves 99). according to Stanford University graduate Jessica Pham: “… took advantage of the youth‟s eagerness for adventure and danger. The representation of Nazi ideology in these films. The “educational” films shown in classrooms and at Film Hours were in no way valuable to the youth. creativity. these children lost their opportunity to become individuals. Again. Due to the role censorship in German society.films made specifically for the children were shown every Sunday throughout the Third Reich. because they were “valuable for youth. . (380-381) The content of these films usually included scenes contrasting the “new.” according to another law giving Goebbels power in the film industry (Reeves. Jewish-Bolshevized Weimar Republic” and scenes where the youth sang about the “reborned strength of the Germany of Adolf Hitler” while mocking at the “decaying of the Jewish democratic world” and insulting the “murderous Bolshevist Russia” (384). 98). and shaped into fanatical Nazi followers. strong. from knowing the truth about the Nazi Party. the regime‟s advocation of censorship served as a way to “protect” individuals from immorality—to protect them from images that defy Nazi ideals. corrupt. originality. Rather. nationally valuable. instilling these elements into the short propaganda reels. with Goebbels‟ ability to edit any film. especially the youth. national Socialist Germany” against the “old. In the classroom. to censor it by suppressing unacceptable parts. silent films were shown for “educational” purposes. and individuality” (Pham 5). These films were not intended to be in the best interest of children. Almost all of these films were classified as “Prädikate” or exceptional. allows him to prevent people. They “suppressed every form of what a conventional education should include—freedom of thought. Such scenes supported themes in films that preached theories on the need for Germany‟s colonial expansion” (23). a „Film of the Nation‟…of national education.

rather. Hitler‟s political. in order to conceal their true motives. they manipulated their nation into feeling contempt and disgust towards them. militarism over intellect. As Goebbels once said in a speech to the Hitler Youth.The period of the Third Reich is characterized by a combination of nationalism and fear. The Nazi regime did everything in their power to intervene not just with film in terms of censorship. Anti-Semitic. and to create a sense of nationalism. and passion over reason. propagandistic films shaped the German youth into ardent Nazi supporters by emphasizing devotion to the state over family. . it is a great educator…it requires heroic work by all” (Natusi). but also with various devices of popular culture for the duration of the war to ensure that history was documented in the way that they saw it. “war is not only a great equalizer. The government‟s use of censorship in cinema served as a call-to-action for the German people to facilitate the war effort. The Nazi‟s extermination of the entire Jewish race was concealed through censorship.

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