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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

“scholar asserts that Hollywood avidly aided Nazis”

From The New York Times:

In “The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact With Hitler,” Ben Urwand draws on a wealth of previously uncited documents to argue that Hollywood studios, in an effort to protect the German market for their movies, not only acquiesced to Nazi censorship but also actively and enthusiastically cooperated with that regime’s global propaganda effort.

In the 1930s “Hollywood is not just collaborating with Nazi Germany,” Mr. Urwand said by telephone from Cambridge, Mass., where he is currently at Harvard’s prestigious Society of Fellows. “It’s also collaborating with Adolf Hitler, the person and human being.”

Mr. Urwand, 35, offers the most stinging take by far, drawing on material from German and American archives to argue that the relationship between Hollywood and the Third Reich ran much deeper — and went on much longer — than any scholar has so far suggested.

On page after page, he shows studio bosses, many of them Jewish immigrants, cutting films scene by scene to suit Nazi officials; producing material that could be seamlessly repurposed in Nazi propaganda films; and, according to one document, helping to finance the manufacture of German armaments.

I’m not sure why this is coming as any surprise to anybody. Hollywood is big business. Big business had no problem doing big business with the Nazis. It was just, you know, good business. That was all that mattered.


posted in:
easter eggs
  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Interesting that, almost 80 years later, we still seem to be fighting that war. But then, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised: almost 150 years and we’re still fighting the American Civil War.

    a scrapbook in which Jack Warner documented a Rhine cruise that he and other studio executives took with an Allied escort on Hitler’s former yacht in July 1945 as part of a trip exploring postwar business opportunities.

    “That was the one time I actually shouted out in an archive,” Mr. Urwand recalled.

    I don’t understand this bit. This is like the opposite of what Urwand is trying to expose. I can only assume that what had Urwand incensed is that the meeting occurred “Hitler’s former yacht”. The one Hitler used to own, but didn’t anymore, because he had lost the war, and also was dead.

    How can any respectable historian not understand the symbolic nature of using Hitler’s personal property while working with people from Allied nations? How can he not understand how crucial it was to get businesses from Allied nations into Germany in the immediate aftermath, to try and avoid fighting that war a third time?

  • RogerBW

    Hitler, after all, had made a point of accepting the surrender of France in the same railway carriage in which the armistice had been signed at Compiègne at the end of the First World War.

    Sure, Hollywood will take money from anyone who’s willing to throw it at them. So what’s the fuss about?

  • RogerBW

    Not just Hollywood, of course — if you read some of the Doc Savage stories from 1940-1941, you’ll get references to agents of “an aggressive European nation” as the villains, but nobody mentions Germany, presumably (apart from the export sales consideration) to avoid alienating Americans who still regarded Germany as the motherland.

    Much as films tread carefully around China now…

  • Tonio Kruger

    Even the Hitchcock film Foreign Correspondent doesn’t directly mention the Nazis or Germany — and it was made in 1940.

  • Tonio Kruger

    “Money makes the world go around, the world go around…”

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