Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The first US anti-Nazi film, suppressed at the time

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Fascinating bit of history, but of course many in the US strongly favored Hitler and the Nazi party, Charles Lindbergh notoriously among them. Emily Greenhouse writes in the New Yorker:

In the early nineteen-hundreds, Cornelius Vanderbilt IV, the great-great-grandson of the railroad and steamship tycoon, saw the heirs and heiresses he lived among as “dull, uninteresting, hopelessly mediocre people.” Seeking excitement, Vanderbilt enlisted in the First World War (supposedly he became a driver when a general asked if any of his men could handle a Rolls Royce); once discharged, he decided to try to hack it as a newsman. With the advantage of money, Vanderbilt could afford film equipment in a time when cameras were still a luxury; with the advantage of name, he got to places most reporters couldn’t go. Vanderbilt toured Europe with two French cameramen, and managed to interview the day’s notorious newsmakers, including Benito Mussolini and Josef Stalin. But the plutocrat-cum-journalist set his sights on a man even more dangerous. When he had a chance to sit down with the former Crown Prince of Germany, in Berlin, he asked, “Strange, isn’t it, that you Hohenzollerns are so much easier to see than Hitler?”

On March 5, 1933, the day elections gave the Nazis a parliamentary plurality, a triumphant Adolf Hitler addressed a hysterical crowd at the Sports Palace in Berlin. From the wings of the stage, Vanderbilt managed a brief audience with the new Reich Chancellor. According to Vanderbilt’s account, he introduced himself, in German, and then Hitler, with a motion to the throngs that awaited, began speaking: “Tell the Americans that life moves forward, always forward, irrevocably forward. Tell them that Adolf Hitler is the man of the hour, not because he has been appointed Chancellor by Hindenburg but because no one else could have been appointed Chancellor instead. Tell them that he was sent by the Almighty to a nation that had been threatened with disintegration and loss of honor for fifteen long years.” Vanderbilt, an all-American blue blood, risked a final question. He shouted, “And what about the Jews, Your Excellency?” Hitler brushed it off—“My people are waiting for me!”—and pointed Vanderbilt toward Dr. Ernst Hanfstaengl, his Harvard-educated (and Anglo-acclimated) foreign press chief. “He will tell you about the Jews and all the other things that seem to bother America.” Hanfstaengl proved mostly interested in Vanderbilt’s money.

Two and a half weeks later, Vanderbilt set sail for New York, carrying footage he had taken of Jewish refugees fleeing for their lives. Buzz built of a Vanderbilt “scoop”;Motion Picture Daily anticipated that “the Hitler storm will gather when Cornelius Vanderbilt’s picture of Nazi oppression of the Jews is released in this country.” In the following months, Vanderbilt hired Mike Mindlin, who’d just wrapped up a sexploitation film, as director, and a well-known NBC newsman named Edwin C. Hill as narrator, commentator, and interviewer. Vanderbilt played himself, a courageous young reporter. “At last, before your very eyes,” the trailers declared, “uncensored scenes of Hitler’s reign of terror! Ripping aside the curtain on history’s most shocking episode and exposing the Nazi menace in America!”

The film by Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr. (as his name read in the credits), ”Hitler’s Reign of Terror,” premièred at the independent Mayfair theatre on Broadway on April 30, 1934, and garnered the biggest single opening day in the house’s history. . .

Continue reading. Video at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 May 2013 at 12:22 pm

Posted in Government, Video

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