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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 peoples 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 ones morality, and to ones faith in their nation.

In the aftermath of World War I, Germanys development of a film culture was very weak due to the Depression and high cost for new sound technologies (Reeves 94). 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). But the imitation of Walt Disney films was short lived, as the German government shifted toward its totalitarian state in 1933. As history progressed, so did film production and the ways in which it was portrayed to the public sphere. 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). His extremely Anti-Semitic films were manipulative to the general public, and even more so to the Hitler Youth which he and the Nazi regime was trying to target. This idea of manipulation, of course, was facilitated through the regulation and censorship of films. In 1932, Goebbels took complete control in the restructuring of Germanys film industry. After excluding all Jews from the industry, he established the Reich Cinema Law of February 1934, which imposed much stricter censorship and control at every stage of the production process (Reeves 97). This entailed submitting an initial proposal and a full script, both which could be scrutinized at any point in time, and then further regulation during the filming process. After passing all of these regulations, films then had to go through Censorship Offices. This is similar to the process of American film regulation today, 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 Stateoffends National Socialist, religious, moral, or artistic feeling, or has a brutalizing or immoral effect (Reeves 97-98). And if these standards were not ambiguous enough, Goebbels also gained the right to re-examine or ban any film

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

films made specifically for the children were shown every Sunday throughout the Third Reich. In the classroom, silent films were shown for educational purposes, in which the teacher would add commentary in the background (Reeves 99). Almost all of these films were classified as Prdikate or exceptional, because they were valuable for youth, nationally valuable, a Film of the Nationof national education, according to another law giving Goebbels power in the film industry (Reeves, 98). Again, with Goebbels ability to edit any film, to censor it by suppressing unacceptable parts, allows him to prevent people, especially the youth, from knowing the truth about the Nazi Party. The representation of Nazi ideology in these films, according to Stanford University graduate Jessica Pham: took advantage of the youths eagerness for adventure and danger, instilling these elements into the short propaganda reels. (380-381) The content of these films usually included scenes contrasting the new, strong, national Socialist Germany against the old, corrupt, 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). Such scenes supported themes in films that preached theories on the need for Germanys colonial expansion (23).

These films were not intended to be in the best interest of children, but rather to the interests of the Nazi Party. Rather, the regimes advocation of censorship served as a way to protect individuals from immoralityto protect them from images that defy Nazi ideals, and to influence childrens perspectives for the benefit of the party. The educational films shown in classrooms and at Film Hours were in no way valuable to the youth. They suppressed every form of what a conventional education should includefreedom of thought, creativity, originality, and individuality (Pham 5). Due to the role censorship in German society, these children lost their opportunity to become individuals, and shaped into fanatical Nazi followers.

The period of the Third Reich is characterized by a combination of nationalism and fear. Hitlers political, Anti-Semitic, propagandistic films shaped the German youth into ardent Nazi supporters by emphasizing devotion to the state over family, militarism over intellect, and passion over reason. As Goebbels once said in a speech to the Hitler Youth, war is not only a great equalizer, it is a great educatorit requires heroic work by all (Natusi). The governments use of censorship in cinema served as a call-to-action for the German people to facilitate the war effort, and to create a sense of nationalism, in order to conceal their true motives. The Nazis extermination of the entire Jewish race was concealed through censorship; rather, they manipulated their nation into feeling contempt and disgust towards them. The Nazi regime did everything in their power to intervene not just with film in terms of censorship, 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.

Works Cited Byrd, Cathy. Fehrenbach Examines Role of Film in Nazi Germany. Emory Report 52.4 (1999) Print.

Fox, Jo. Filming Women in the Third Reich. Berg Publishers, 2000.

Hitler, Adolf, and Michael Ford. Mein Kampf. Camarillo, California: Elite Minds, 2009. Print.

Nasuti, Guy. The Hitler Youth: An Effective Organization for Total War. MilitaryHistoryOnline. 3 December 2006.

Ott, Frederick W. The Great German Films. Citadel Press, 1986.

Pham, Jessica A. "Educating the Hitler Youth." 7 Dec. 2009. TS.

Reeves, Nicholas. The Power of Film Propaganda. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004.

Rentschler, Eric. The Ministry of Illusion: Nazi Cinema and its Afterlife. Harvard University Press, 1996.

Sturken, M. & Cartwright, L. (2009). Images, power, and politics. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture (pp. 9-46). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

The Louis Le Prince Restoration and Appreciation Society. Web. 24 February 2013

Wistrich, Robert S. Whos Who in Nazi Germany. Routledge, 1997.