Film im Dritten Reich

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
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National Socialism created an elaborate system of propaganda, which made use of the new technologies of the 20th century, including cinema.
The National Socialists courted the masses by the means of slogans that were aimed directly at the instincts and emotions of the people.
It is therefore not surprising that the government of the Third Reich valued film as a propaganda instrument of enormous power.

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels 

The interest that Adolf Hitler and his Propaganda Minister Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels took in film was not only the result of a personal fascination.

The instrumentalization of film for propaganda had been planned by the National Socialist German Workers Party as early as 1930, (three years before they gained power), when the party first established a film department.
Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, who appointed himself “Patron of the German film”, assumed, accurately, that a national cinema which was entertaining and put the government in a glamorous light would be a more effective propaganda instrument than a national cinema in which the NSDAP and their policy would have been ubiquitous.
The main goal of the National Socialist film policy was to promote a certain form of escapism, which was designed to distract the population and to keep everybody in good spirits; Dr Goebbels indeed blamed defeat in World War I on the failure to sustain the morale of the people – a view which was also held by Adolf Hitler, as he explained in ‘Mein Kampf’.
The open propaganda was reserved for films like ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’ (Victory of Faith) and ‘Triumph des Willen’s (Triumph of the Will), records of the Nürnberg rallies, and newsreels.
There are some examples of German feature films from the Third Reich that deal with the NSDAP, or with party organizations such as the Sturmabteilung, Hitler Youth or the National Labour Service, one notable example being ‘Hitlerjunge Quex’ – a film) about the Hitler Youth.
Another example is the anti-semitic feature film ‘Jud Süß’ (Jew Suss).
The propaganda films that refer directly to Nazi politics amounted to less than a sixth of the whole national film production, which mainly consisted of light entertainment films, although it is those propaganda films that are much more well known today, such as ‘Triumph des Willens’ .
The authorities and NSDAP departments in charge of film policy were the film department of the Ministry of Propaganda, the Reichskulturkammer (Reich Chamber of Culture), the Reichsfilmkammer (Reich Chamber of Film), and the Reichspropagandaleitung (film department of the Party Propaganda Department).
A system of “award” was used to encourage self-censorship; awarded for such things as “kulturellen Wert” (cultural value) or “Wert dem Volk” (value to the people), they remitted part of the heavy taxes on films.
Up to a third of the films in the Third Reich received such awards.
The Reichsfilmkammer
The Reichsfilmkammer (RFK; Film Chamber of the Reich) was a public corporation based in Berlin that regulated the film industry in National Socialist Germany between 1933 and 1945.
Everyone in the German Reich who wanted to work on films in any capacity had to be a member; lack of membership meant in effect a ban on employment.
Reichskulturkammer RKK

The predecessor of the Reichsfilmkammer was the Spitzenorganisation der Filmwirtschaft (SPIO) (“Film Industry Summit Organisation”).

The Reichsfilmkammer was established on the basis of the Gesetz über die Errichtung einer vorläufigen Filmkammer (“Law for the Establishment of a Temporary Film Chamber”) of 14 July 1933.
Under the Reichskulturkammergesetz (“Law of the Reich Culture Chamber”) of 22 September 1933 the Film Chamber was integrated as a subdivision of the newly founded Reichskulturkammer RKK (“Culture Chamber of the Reich”).
The establishment of the Reichsfilmkammer was preceded by an ordinance of the Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment (Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda), which prohibited Jews and foreigners from any participation in the German film industry.

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbles

To co-ordinate film to the goals of propaganda (Gleichschaltung), the NDAP subordinated the entire film industry and administration under Dr Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda, and gradually nationalized film production and distribution.

Gleichschaltung (“coordination”, “bringing into line”), is a National Socialist term for the process by which the NSDAP successively established a system of overall control and coordination over all aspects of society. 
Among the goals of this policy were to bring about adherence to a specific doctrine and way of thinking and to control as many aspects of life as possible.
A state-run professional school for politically reliable film-makers (Deutsche Filmakademie Babelsberg) was founded, and membership of an official professional organization (Reichsfilmkammer) was made mandatory for all actors, film-makers, distributors etc.
The censorship that had already been established during World War I and the Weimar Republic was maintained, with a National Film Dramaturgist (Reichsfilmdramaturg) checking all manuscripts and screenplays at the very first stages of production.
Film criticism was prohibited, and a national film award established.
A film bank (Filmkreditbank GmbH) was established to provide low-interest loans for the production of politically welcome films, and such films also received tax benefits.
Film Production
In the mid-1930s, the German film industry suffered the most severe crisis it had ever faced.
There were multiple reasons for this crisis.
Firstly, many of the most capable actors and film-makers had left the country after the rise to power of the Nazi government; others had been banned by the new Reichsfilmkammer.
These people left a gap that the film industry.
Secondly, the remaining actors and film-makers seized the opportunity to demand higher salaries, which considerably increased production budgets.
Consequently, it became more and more difficult to recover production costs.
Thirdly, the export of German films dramatically dropped due to international boycotts.
In 1933, exports had covered 44% of film production costs; by 1937, this figure had dropped to a mere 7%.
More and more production companies went bankrupt.
The number of companies dropped from 114 (1933–35) to 79 (1936–38) to 38 (1939–41).
This did not necessarily lead to a decrease in the number of new films, as surviving production companies became more prolific, producing many more films.

Adolf Hitler and Dr Goebbles visit UFA Studios

The consolidation of the film industry was undoubtedly beneficial for the government of the Tird Reich.

On the one hand, an ailing and unprofitable film industry would not have been of much use for the propaganda requirements.
And on the other hand, a small number of big film production companies were easier to control than a multitude of small ones.
Dr Goebbels went even further and directed a holding company – Cautio Treuhand GmbH – to buy up the stock majorities of the remaining film production companies.
In 1937, the Cautio acquired the largest German production company, Ufa, and in 1942 merged this company with the remaining companies – Terra Film, Tobis, Bavaria Film, Wien-Film and Berlin-Film – into the so-called “Ufi-Group”.
Universum Film AG
Universum Film AG – Logo

Universum Film AG, better known as UFA or Ufa, was a film company that was the principal film studio in Germany, home of the German film industry during the Weimar Republic and through World War II, and a major force in world cinema from 1917 to 1945.

UFA was created during November 1917 in Berlin as a government-owned producer of World War I propaganda and public service films.
It was created through the consolidation of most of Germany’s commercial film companies, including Nordisk and Decla. Decla’s former owner, Erich Pommer, served as producer for the 1920 film ‘Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari’, which was not only the best example of German Expressionism and an enormously influential film, but also a commercial success.

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari’

‘Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari’ is a 1920 German silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene from a screenplay by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. It is one of the most influential films of the German Expressionist movement and is often considered to be one of the greatest horror movies of the silent era in film. The film used stylized sets, with abstract, jagged buildings painted on canvas backdrops and flats. To add to this strange style, the actors used an unrealistic technique that exhibited “jerky” and dance-like movements. This movie is cited as having introduced the ‘twist’ ending in cinema.


Pressured by the US film industry, in late 1921 UFA was merged with Decla-Bioscop, “with government, industrial and banking support” and a near-monopoly in an industry that produced around 600 films each year and attracted a million customers every day.
In the silent movie years, when films were easier to adapt for foreign markets, UFA began developing an international reputation and posed serious competition to Hollywood.
During the Weimar years the studio produced and exported an enormous, accomplished, and inventive body of work.

Metropolis
Der Blaue Engel

Famous directors based at UFA included Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau; under chief producer Erich Pommer the company created landmark films such as ‘Dr. Mabuse’ (1922), ‘Metropolis’ (1927), and Marlene Dietrich’s first talkie, ‘Der Blaue Engel’ (The Blue Angel) (1930).

UFA was also the studio of the ‘Bergfilm’, a uniquely German genre that glorified and romanticized mountain climbing, downhill skiing, and avalanche-dodging.
The ‘Bergfilm’ genre was primarily the creation of director Arnold Fanck, and examples like ‘Der Heilige Berg’ (The Holy Mountain) (1926) and ‘Weiß Ekstase’ (White Ecstasy) (1931) are notable for the appearance of Austrian skiing legend Hannes Schneider and a young Leni Riefenstahl.
The flying ace Ernst Udet also appeared in several of the films.

Alfred Hugenberg

The studio over-extended itself financially during the late 1920s, partly as a result of the expensive production of ‘Metropolis’, and was taken over by the press baron, former Krupp manager, and DNVP leader Alfred Hugenberg in March 1927.

Once it became clear in the late 1920s that sound film had taken off, UFA rapidly switched its production away from silent film and added soundtracks to films already being made such as Melody of the Heart. In spite of this the first German sound film was produced by its smaller rival Tobis.[2] UFA had previously been able to export its silent films around the world. Because of the new language barrier in the sound age, major films were often made with versions in several languages as happened with the expensive musicals The Three from the Filling Station (1930), Monte Carlo Madnes (1931) and The Congress Dances (1931). UFA particularly targeted the British, French and American markets.

UFA-Palast am Zoo – Berlin

During the same year, UFA opened the UFA-Palast am Zoo theatre in Berlin.

National conservative Hugenberg in the course of the “Machtergreifung ” on 30 January 1933 became Reich Minister of Economy in Hitler’s cabinet.
He resigned in June, but the company nevertheless became a compliant producer of National Socialist propaganda films, supervised by Hugenberg’s cabinet colleague Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels.
His Ministry essentially controlled the content of UFA films.
With one stroke, the entire German film industry had been practically nationalized, however, German film-making preserved its character as a private industry.
Although Dr Goebbels founded the Filmkreditbank GmbH in order to fund the industry, the funds came from private investors.
Thus, there were no government subsidies to the film industry in the Third Reich.
Because of this, the industry was forced to remain profitable – and to produce films that met the expectations of the audience.
Film Distribution
A concentration also took place in the distribution field.
In 1942, the Ufa-owned Deutsche Filmvertriebs GmbH (DFV) took the place of all companies so far remaining.
For the export of films to foreign countries special companies had been established such as the Cinéma Film AG.
Since the days of the Weimar Republic, there had also existed an extensive system of educational film hire services which was extended under the National Socialist administration.
In 1943, there were 37 regional services and 12,042 city services.
In parallel, the Reichspropagandaleitung ran its own network of educational film hire services which included 32 Gaue, 171 district, and 22,357 local services.
All film hire services had extensive film collections as well as rental 16 mm film projectors available that made it possible to show films in any class or lecture room and at any group meeting of the Hitler Youth.
Cinemas
Apart from the Ufa-owned theatre chain, the cinemas were not nationalized.
The majority of the 5,506 theatres that existed in 1939 within the so-called Altreich (the “Old Reich”, i.e., Germany without Austria and the Sudetenland) were small companies run by private owners, however, a large number of rules and regulations issued by the Reichsfilmkammer limited the entrepreneurial freedom of the cinemas considerably.
For instance, it was mandatory to include a documentary and a newsreel in every film programme.
By a law of 1933 (the Gesetz über die Vorführung ausländischer Bildstreifen vom 23. Juni 1933) the government was also entitled to prohibit the presentation of foreign films.

UFA-Palast am Zoo – Berlin

An import quota for foreign films had been set during the Weimar Republic, and during World War II, the import of films from certain foreign countries was completely prohibited. For example, from 1941 onwards, the presentation of American films became illegal.

In order to boost the propaganda effect, the Nazis supported film shows in large cinemas with large audiences where the feeling of being part of the crowd was so overwhelming for the individual spectator that critical film perception had little chance.
Film shows also took place in military barracks and factories.
The Hitler Youth arranged special film programmes (Jugendfilmstunden) where newsreels and propaganda films were shown. In order to supply even rural and remote areas with film shows, the Party Propaganda Department (Reichspropagandaleitung) operated 300 film trucks and two film trains that carried all the necessary equipment for showing films in, for example, village inns.
The dislike that Goebbels and other film politicians had for individual, more private film viewing was probably one of the reasons why they did not make any effort to develop television – at that time a technique that was ready to be applied – as a new mass media.
Film propaganda had the highest priority in Germany even under the severe conditions of the last years of World War II.
While schools and playhouses stopped working in 1944, cinemas continued to operate until the very end of the war
In Berlin for instance, anti-aircraft units were posted specially to protect the local cinemas in 1944.
Star System
There always had been film stars in Germany, but a star system comparable to the star system in Hollywood did not yet exist.
Female Film Stars of the third Reich
Dr Goebbles and Adolf Hitler
Zarah Leander

In order to improve the image of the Third Reich, Dr Goebbels made great efforts to form a star system. 

The best-known example is the Swedish actress Zarah Leander who was hired in 1937 by the Ufa and became the most prominent and highest-paid German film star in only a few years.
The publicity campaign for Leander was run by the press office of the Ufa, which concealed her past as a film actress already well known in Sweden and put their money right away on her charisma as a singer with an exceptionally deep voice.
The Ufa press office provided the newspapers with detailed instructions on how the new star would have to be presented, and even the actress herself had to follow detailed instructions whenever she appeared in public.
This kind of star publicity had not existed in Germany before.

Olga Tschechowa
Lil Dagover

High politicians such as Adolf Hitler, Dr Goebbels, and Hermann Göring appeared in public flanked by popular German film actors.

The female stars in particular were supposed to lend some glamour to the male-dominated NSDAP events. Adolf Hitler’s preferred dinner partners were the actresses Olga Tschechowa and Lil Dagover, and from 1935, Hermann Göring was married to the popular actress Emmy Sonnemann.
The relationships of Dr Goebbels to several female film stars are also well known.
Magda Goebbels left a screening of the film ‘Die Reise nach Tilsit’, because it seemed to her too close a telling of her husband’s relationship with Lida Baarova, which had resulted in the actress being sent back to her native Czechoslovakia.

Lida Baarova,

Personal proximity to the political leaders became a determining factor for the career success of film actors An informal system of listings decided how frequently an actor would be cast.

The five categories extended from “to cast at all costs even without a vacancy” (for instance Zarah Leander, Lil Dagover, Heinz Rühmann) to “casting under no circumstances welcome”.
How crucial the film stars were for the image of the National Socialist government is also evident from the tax benefits that Hitler decreed in 1938 for prominent film actors and directors.
From that time on, they could deduct 40% of their income as professional expenses.

Richard Strauss
Arno Breker

In 1944 Dr Joseph Goebbels made a now famous list of “irreplaceable artists” called the ‘Gottbegnadeten list’ with people such as Arno Breker, Richard Strauss and Johannes Heesters.

During World War II German film stars supported the war effort by performing for the troops or by collecting money for the Winterhilfswerk (Winter Relief Organization).
Although most of the male stars were exempted from military service, some – such as the popular Heinz Rühmann – participated in the war as soldiers, often accompanied by newsreel film crews.

Hitlerjunge Quex

The films ‘Hitlerjunge Quex’ and ‘S.A.-Mann Brand’ also glorified those had died in the struggle to seize power; ‘Quex’ was based on a novel that sold over 200,000 copies over two years.

Hitlerjunge Quex is a 1932 German propaganda novel based on the life of Herbert “Quex” Norkus. 
The 1933 movie ‘Hitlerjunge Quex: Ein Film vom Opfergeist der deutschen Jugend’ was based on the novel, and was described by Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels as the “first large-scale” transmission of National Socialist ideology using the medium of cinema.

Hitlerjunge Quex

Both the book and the movie, like ‘S.A.-Mann Brand’ and ‘Hans Westmar’ (see above), both released the same year, fictionalized and glorified death in the service of the NSDAP and Hitler.

Hitlerjungen marschieren
von Herbert Norkus ‘Grab der
NSDAP Kongress in Nürnberg
The novel Der Hitlerjunge Quex was written by Karl Aloys Schenzinger between May and September 1932.
It was first published in  NSDP party newspaper ‘Völkischer Beobachter’, and as a book in December 1932.
Both novel and movie are based on the real story of Herbert Norkus’ life. Norkus, a Hitler Youth member, died from injuries suffered when chased and confronted by Communist youths in the night of 23 / 24 January 1932 in the Beusselkietz neighbourhood of Moabit, Berlin.
While the murder was condemned by the press, the Communists started a counter-propaganda offensive, describing the incident as an accidental result of Communist self-defense during a NSDAP attack.
By January 1934 the film had been viewed by a million people.

Hans Westmar

Hans Westmar- ‘Einer von vielen’
Hanns Heinz Ewers
‘Hans Westmar. Einer von vielen. Ein deutsches Schicksal aus dem Jahre 1929’ (Hans Westmar. One of many.
A German Fate from the Year 1929) was the last of an unofficial trilogy of films commissioned by the Third Reich shortly after coming to power in January 1933, celebrating the ‘Kampfzeit’ – a ‘mythologised’ history of their period in opposition, struggling to gain power. 
The film is a fictionalized life of the famous National Socialist martyr Horst Wessel.



Horst Ludwig Wessel

Horst Ludwig Wessel (October 9, 1907 – February 23, 1930) was a German National Socialist activist and an SA-Sturmführer who was made a posthumous hero of the NSDAP following his violent death in 1930. He was the author of the lyrics to the song “Die Fahne hoch” (“The Flag On High”), usually known as ‘Horst-Wessel-Lied’ (“the Horst Wessel Song”), which became the Party anthem and, de facto, Germany’s co-national anthem from 1933 to 1945. His death also resulted in his becoming the “patron” for the Luftwaffe’s 26th Destroyer Wing and the 18th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division during World War II.

The film was based on a novel, personally commissioned by Adolf Hitler from his close friend Hanns Heinz Ewers.
It was among the first films to depict dying for Hitler as a glorious death for Germany, resulting in his spirit inspiring his comrades.
His decision to go to the streets is presented as fighting “the real battle.”

Leni Riefenstahl

“Leni” Riefenstahl

Helene Bertha Amalie “Leni” Riefenstahl (22 August 1902 – 8 September 2003) was a German film director, photographer, actress and dancer widely known for directing the propaganda film ‘Triumph des Willens’.

‘Triumph des Willens’ gave Riefenstahl instant and lasting international fame.
She directed eight films, two of which received significant coverage outside Germany, and many film histories cite the aesthetics as outstanding.
Riefenstahl took dancing lessons and attended dance academies from an early age, and began her career as an interpretive dancer.
After injuring her knee while performing in Prague, she saw a film about mountains ‘Der Berg des Schicksals, (1924) and became fascinated with the possibilities of this sort of film.
She went to the Alps to meet the film’s director, Arnold Fanck, hoping to secure the lead in his next project, but instead, Riefenstahl met Luis Trenker who had starred in Fanck’s films, who wrote to the director about her.
Der heilige Berg

Riefenstahl went on to star in many of Fanck’s mountain films as an athletic and adventurous young woman.

She became an accomplished mountaineer, and learned film-making techniques.

‘Der heilige Berg’ (The Holy Mountain) is a 1926 German UFA mountain film directed by Arnold Fanck and starring Leni Riefenstahl, Luis Trenker and Frida Richard. It was the future filmmaker Riefenstahl’s first screen appearance as an actress. The film cost 1.5 million reichsmarks to produce, and was released during the 1926 Christmas season.

Riefenstahl went on to have a prolific career as an actress in silent films.
Her last acting role before becoming a director was the 1933 production of the Arnold Fanck-directed, ‘SOS Eisberg’.
One of her fans at this time was Adolf Hitler.
Riefenstahl accompanied Fanck to the 1928 Olympic Games in St. Moritz, where she became interested in athletic photography and filming.
When presented with the opportunity to direct ‘Das Blaue Licht’ (The Blue Light) (1932), she took it. Breaking from Fanck’s style of setting realistic stories in fairytale mountain settings, Riefenstahl filmed ‘Das Blaue Licht’ as a romantic, wholly mystical tale which she thought of as more fitting to the terrain.

Leni Riefenstahl
Das blaue Licht

‘Das blaue Licht’ is a black-and-white 1932 film written and directed by Leni Riefenstahl and Béla Balázs, with uncredited scripting by Carl Mayer.
A young woman, Junta (Riefenstahl), lives apart from her village and, for her solitude and strangeness, is considered to be a witch; when she comes to the village for one reason or another, the townsfolk chase her away. They feel that she may in some way be responsible for the deaths of several young men of the village, who have felt compelled, one by one, to climb the local mountain (and fall to their deaths) on nights when the moon is full. Junta lives largely in solitude (except for the company of a young shepherd boy) in the tranquillity of the mountains surrounding the village. She is simple and innocent, but also seems something of a mystic. On full moon nights, a crack in a prominent local mountain admits the moon’s light and illuminates a grotto filled with beautiful crystals. This place of indescribable beauty, glowing with magical blue light, is a sacred space for Junta. The glowing blue light, shining from afar, to the village below, is also what has attracted the village’s young men, none of whom ever reached it before falling off the mountain’s treacherous slope.

Adolf Hitler and Leni Riefenstahl

A man from the city, a painter, travelling through the village, falls in love with Junta. All is pleasant and good and very chaste, until the next full moon night, when the man sees Junta climbing up the mountain. He follows her, actually reaching the beautiful grotto, and finds Junta in a state of ecstasy among the crystals.
Perceiving these thousands of crystals to be a source of immense wealth for Junta and the villagers, the man immediately runs down to inform the townsfolk and tells them of the correct route to reach the grotto. Junta does not realize that he is doing this, until the next day, when she finds some of her crystals on the path to the village, as well as some dropped tools. Rushing up to the grotto, she finds it completely barren of crystals: all have been taken by the greedy villagers. Meanwhile, the villagers and the painter are celebrating. Junta is totally devastated at this violation of the sacred grotto and of her trust in the outsider and falls to her death.

She co-wrote, directed and starred in the film, and produced it under the banner of her own company, Leni Riefenstahl Productions.
‘Das Blaue Licht’ won the Silver Medal at the Venice Biennale and played to full audiences all over Europe.
Der Sieg des Glaubens
Der Sieg des Glaubens
Der Sieg des Glaubens

Der Sieg des Glaubens (Victory of Faith) (1933) is the first propaganda film directed by Leni Riefenstahl.
Her film recounts the Fifth Party Rally of the NDAP, which occurred in Nürnberg from 30 August to 3 September 1933.

Its form is very similar to her later and much expanded version of the 1934 rally, known as ‘Triumph des Willens’.
It is a visual record of the rally and not much else, having no analytical content, so cannot claim “documentary” status.
It is pure propaganda for the NSDAP, who funded and promoted the film.
The film celebrates the “victory” of the NSDAP in achieving power with Hitler assuming the role of Chancellor of Germany in February 1933.
Triumph des Willens

Triumph des Willens
Triumph des Willens

‘Triumph des Willens’ is a 1935 film made by Leni Riefenstahl.

It chronicles the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, which was attended by more than 700,000 Nazi supporters.
The film contains excerpts from speeches given by various Party leaders at the Congress, interspersed with footage of massed Sturmabteilung and Schutzstaffel troops.
Hitler commissioned the film and served as an unofficial executive producer; his name appears in the opening titles.

Triumph des Willens – Final Scene
The overriding theme of the film is the return of Germany as a great power, with Hitler as the leader who will bring glory to the nation.
‘Triumph des Willens’ was released in 1935 and became an example of propaganda in film history.
Riefenstahl’s techniques, such as moving cameras, the use of long focus lenses to create a distorted perspective, aerial photography, and revolutionary approach to the use of music and cinematography, have earned ‘Triumph des Willens’ recognition as one of the greatest films in history.
Riefenstahl won several awards, not only in Germany but also in the United States, France, Sweden, and other countries.
The film was popular in the Third Reich, and has continued to influence movies, documentaries, and commercials to this day.

Olympia

Olympia

‘Olympia’ is a 1938 film by Leni Riefenstahl documenting the 1936 Summer Olympics, held in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany.

The film was released in two parts: Olympia 1. Teil – Fest der Völker (Festival of Nations) and Olympia 2. Teil – Fest der Schönheit (Festival of Beauty).

Olympia
It was the first documentary feature film of the Olympic Games ever made.
Many advanced motion picture techniques, which later became industry standards but which were ground-breaking at the time, were employed – including unusual camera angles, smash cuts, extreme close-ups, placing tracking shot rails within the bleachers, and the like.
The techniques employed almost universally admired, and the film appears on many lists of the greatest films of all-time, including Time magazine’s “All-Time 100 Movies.”
Olympia set the precedent for future films documenting and glorifying the Olympic Games, particularly the Summer Games.
The 1936 Summer Olympics torch relay was devised by the German sports official Dr. Carl Diem for these Olympic Games in Berlin.
Riefenstahl later staged the torch relay for this film, as with competitive events of the Games.

Jud Süß

‘Jud Süß’ is a German propaganda film produced in 1940 by Terra Filmkunst at the behest of Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels.
The movie was directed by Veit Harlan, who wrote the screenplay with Eberhard Wolfgang Möller and Ludwig Metzger.
The leading roles were played by Ferdinand Marian and Harlan’s wife Kristina Söderbaum; Werner Krauss and Heinrich George played key supporting roles.
Although the film’s budget of 2 million Reichsmarks was considered high for films of that era, the box-office receipts of 6.5 million Reichsmarks made it a financial success.
Heinrich Himmler, Reich Führer SS, urged members of the SS and police to watch the movie.
Although some have dismissed the film as simply propaganda, others have pointed to Harlan’s talent as a director as one of the significant contributing factors to the film’s box-office success.
‘Jud Süß’
Together with ‘Die Rothschilds’ and ‘Der ewige Jude’, the film remains one of the most frequently discussed examples of the use of film to further the National Socialist racial philosophy.
The film is based on historical events.
Joseph Süß Oppenheimer was an 18th century Court Jew in the employ of Duke Karl Alexander of Württemberg in Stuttgart.
As a financial advisor for Duke Karl Alexander, Duke of Württemberg, he also gained a prominent position as a court Jew and held the reins of the finances in his duchy.
In the process, he made a number of enemies who stated, among other things, that he was involved with local gambling houses.
When Karl Alexander died suddenly, Oppenheimer was arrested and accused of various crimes, including fraud, embezzlement, treason, lecherous relations with the court ladies and accepting bribes.
After a heavily publicized trial he was sentenced to death.
Joseph Süß Oppenheimer was led to the gallows on 4 February 1738.
The film premièred at the Venice Film Festival on 8 September 1940 and received rave reviews, earning the top award.
‘Jud Süß’ was a great box-office success in Germany and abroad.
It ranked sixth out of the thirty most popular German films of the war years.
Within the Third Reich, it was the number one film of the 1939–1940 season, viewed by audiences totalling over twenty million at a time when the population of Germany was some seventy million.
Der ewige Jude
‘Der ewige Jude’
‘Der ewige Jude’ (1940) is a German propaganda film, presented as a documentary.
The film’s title in German is the German term for the character of the “Wandering Jew” in medieval folklore. 
At the insistence of Nazi Germany’s Minister of Propaganda, Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, the film was directed by Fritz Hippler.
The screenplay is credited to Eberhard Taubert.
The film consists of feature and documentary footage combined with materials filmed shortly after the German occupation of Poland.
At this time Poland’s Jewish population was about three million, roughly ten percent of the total population. 
Actor Harry Giese (1903–1991) narrated.
In 1937, a special wing of the Propaganda Ministry put on an art exhibition in Munich titled ‘Der ewige Jude’. 
It followed this up with the publication of a book consisting of 265 photographs, each with a caption describing the degeneracy of the Jewish race.
Adolf Hitler expressed his frustration and anger at the mixed response from the German media and insisted that propaganda should be expressed in such a way that the German people themselves would develop ann aversion with regard to the Jews.
In response to Hitler’s reprimand, Dr Goebbels launched a campaign against the Jews.
He ordered each film studio to make an anti-Jewish film.
In the case of ‘Der ewige Jude’ Dr Goebbels conceived of a film that would communicate to the German people the same message that had been the theme of the 1937 Munich exhibition.
Although Dr Goebbels did not generally take an active role in the production of particular films, he elected to do so in the case of major propaganda films such as ‘Der ewige Jude’.
Throughout the end of 1939 and the beginning of 1940, Dr Goebbels devoted “constant attention” to the production of ‘Der ewige Jude’.
The footage that Hippler shot in the Jewish ghettos of Lodz, Warsaw, Cracow and Lublin in German occupied Poland was the only footage shot specifically for the purpose of the film.
At the beginning of the film, animated text informs the audience that this “documentary footage” shows Jews in their original state “before they put on the mask of civilized Europeans.”
Hippler advertised the film as being a factual documentary consisting of pictures of real Jews with nothing faked or simulated.
Aside from the footage shot in Poland, the rest of the film consisted of stills and archival footage from feature films.
The basic tenet of the film as argued that “the Jew is an oriental barbarian who has insinuated himself cleverly into European society, and now exploits it parasitically.
This point is emphasized throughout the film, starting from the very opening lines of the film’s commentary:
The civilized Jews that we know in Germany give us only an incomplete picture of their racial character.
This film shows genuine shots of the Polish ghettos. It shows the Jews as they really are, before they conceal themselves behind the mask of the civilized European.’
Der ewige Jude – Rats
Following this commentary, the film provides a succession of scenes in which Jews are portrayed as an uncivilized, parasitic people with low social standing. 
The film utilizes a montage that juxtaposes these images of ghetto Jews with images of rats to draw an analogy between the migration of Jews from Eastern Europe with the migration of rats.
For example, one of the shots shows a pack of rats emerging from a sewer, followed by a shot of a crowd of Jews in a bustling street of the Lodz ghetto. Close-ups of those in the crowd reveal sickly, malformed facial features.
The narrator states that, as rats are the vermin of the animal kingdom, Jews are the vermin of the human race and similarly spread disease and corruption.
Unlike rats, however, the narrator continues, Jews have the uncanny ability to change their appearance and blend into their “human hosts.”
A scene depicts four bearded men in traditional religious Jewish clothing, then shows them shaved and in modern business suits, while the narrator explains that only a “trained eye” can distinguish their Jewish features.
Where rats appear, they bring ruin by destroying mankind’s goods and foodstuffs. In this way, they spread disease, plague, leprosy, typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, and so on. They are cunning, cowardly and cruel and are found mostly in large packs. Among the animals, they represent the rudiment of an insidious, underground destruction – just like the Jews among human beings.
‘Wunschkonzert’

Wunschkonzert 
Wunschkonzert – Poster
Wunschkonzert (“Request Concert”) is a 1940 German drama propaganda film by Eduard von Borsody.
After ‘Die grosse Liebe’, it was the most popular film of wartime Germany, reaching the second highest gross.
The popular music show “Wunschkonzert für die Wehrmacht” (“Request Concert for the Wehrmacht”) was broadcast on the German radio network every Sunday afternoon.
Its popularity was based on the fact that it broadcast music requested by men in the armed forces, thus uniting the armed forces and the homefront in Volksgemeinschaft.
The story takes place during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

Wunschkonzert

The young Inge Wagner and Luftwaffe Fliegerleutnant (Flight Lieutenant) Herbert Koch meet, and within a few days fall in love.
They make plans for their joint future, but before they can get married Herbert is seconded to the Condor Legion and ordered to the Spanish Civil War; he is forced to leave immediately without giving Inge any explanation.
The mission is top secret and all contact with home is forbidden, including by letter, and he is unable to contact her with an explanation.
When after several months the operation is over, and Herbert is recovering from a severe injury, he is at last able to write to Inge, but she has moved in the meantime and he is unable to trace her.
Inge meanwhile is unable to forget Herbert and is prepared to wait for him.
Three years go by.
When the war begins with the Invasion of Poland in 1939, the men from Inge’s area all go off to the front, including Inge’s childhood friend, Helmut Winkler, whose proposal of marriage she has turned down, but who continues to hope for her hand.
Helmut is assigned to a Squadron where he is put directly under Herbert, who has meanwhile been promoted to Hauptmann (Group Captain).
The two become friends, not knowing that they both love the same girl.
Since the beginning of the war, a big musical event has taken place in Berlin every week, which is broadcast on the radio as “Wunschkonzert für die Wehrmacht” and provides a channel for greetings and messages between the front and home.
When Herbert, remembering the beautiful days with Inge, asks for the Olympic fanfares, Inge, who is listening at home like every one else, hears it and is encouraged by this sudden sign out of the blue to discover Herbert’s whereabouts, with renewed hope of seeing him again.
They exchange letters, and arrange to meet in Hamburg.
However, at the last moment before the meeting, Herbert and Helmut are both ordered off on a reconnaissance flight over the Atlantic and are shot down.
A German U-Boat picks them up.
Meanwhile Inge is waiting in vain.
Helmut is taken wounded to the military hospital, where all three meet in his sickroom.
After sorting out the confused situation – Herbert assumes that Inge and Helmut are engaged – the two lovers are reunited.
Starring roles were played by Ilse Werner as Inge Wagner, Carl Raddatz as Herbert Koch and Joachim Brennecke as Helmut Winkler.
Wunschkonzert was officially classified as “Politically valuable“, “Artistically valuable“, “Valuable for the people” and “Valuable for youth“.
By the end of World War II the film had been seen by almost 26 million people and taken 7.6 million Reichsmarks.

Kolberg

Kolberg

The last great film of the Third Reich was ‘Kolberg’.

‘Kolberg’ was a historical feature film made in 1945 German and was directed by Veit Harlan, it was intended as a propaganda piece to shore up the will of the German population to resist the Allies.
The film is based on the autobiography of Joachim Nettelbeck, mayor of Kolberg in western Pomerania.
It tells the story of the successful defence of the besieged fortress town of Kolberg against French troops between April and July 1807, during the Napoleonic Wars.
The film ends with King Frederick William III of Prussia being convinced by Gneisenau to rise up against Napoleon, and in the final scene he sits down to write the proclamation ‘An Mein Volk’ (“To my People”) announcing the ‘War of Liberation’.
Joseph Goebbels explicitly ordered the use of the historical events for a film, which he regarded as highly suitable for the circumstances Germany faced.
Kolberg, begun in 1943, was made in Agfacolor with high production values.
At a cost of more than eight million marks, it was the most expensive German film of the second World War, with the actual cost suppressed to avoid public reaction.
At a time when the war was turning against German fortunes, thousands of soldiers were used in the film.
Principal cinematography took place from October 22, 1943 to August 1944.

Kolberg

The exteriors were shot in Kolberg and environs, Königsberg, Berlin and environs, Seeburg and Neustettin.

To film scenes with snow during summer, 100 railway wagons brought salt to the set in Pomerania.
The film was finally completed at the Babelsberg Studios at Potsdam, while the town and nearby Berlin were being steadily bombed by the Allies.
Two extras were killed during the making of the film when an explosive charge went off too early.
The film opened on January 30, 1945 in a temporary cinema (U.T. Alexanderplatz) and at Tauentzien-Palast in Berlin, and ran under constant threat of air raids until the fall of Berlin in May. 
One of the last films of the Third Reich, it never went into general release.
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Die Große Liebe ? – Eva Braun and Hitler

Die Große Liebe ?
Eva Anna Paula Hitler (née Braun – 6 February 1912 – 30 April 1945) (see left) was the longtime companion of Adolf Hitler and, for less than 40 hours, his wife.


Eva Braun – Nackt Portät
(Eva Braun – Nude Study)

Eva met Hitler in Munich, when she was 17 years old, while working as an assistant and model for his personal photographer and began seeing him often about two years later.
She attempted suicide twice during their early relationship.
By 1936, she was a part of his household at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden and by all accounts lived a materially luxurious and sheltered life throughout World War II.
Eva kept up habits which met Hitler’s disapproval, such as smoking, wearing make-up and nude sunbathing.
Eva enjoyed photography and many of the surviving colour photographs and film of Hitler were taken by her.

She was a key figure within Hitler’s inner social circle, but did not attend public events with him until mid-1944, when her sister Gretl married Hermann Fegelein, the SS liaison officer on his staff.


As the Third Reich collapsed towards the end of the war, Eva swore her loyalty to Hitler and went to Berlin to be by his side in the heavily reinforced Führerbunker beneath the Reich Chancellery.
As Red Army troops fought their way into the neighbourhood on 29 April 1945, she married Hitler during a brief civil ceremony: she was 33 and he 56.
Less than 40 hours later, they committed suicide together in a sitting room of the bunker.
The German public was wholly unaware of Braun until after her death.

Evas’ Biography


Born in Munich (see left), Eva Braun was the second daughter of school teacher Friedrich “Fritz” Braun, a non-practicing Lutheran, and Franziska “Fanny” Kronberger, who came from a respectable Bavarian Catholic family.








Her elder sister, Ilse, was born in 1909 and her younger sister, Margarete “Gretl”, was born in 1915.
Eva was educated at a lyceum, then for one year at a business school in a convent where she had average grades and a talent for athletics.






She worked for several months as a receptionist at a medical office.
Then at age 17, took a job as an office and lab assistant and photographer’s model for Heinrich Hoffmann, the official photographer for the Nazi Party – and it was through Hoffman that Eva Braun met Adolf Hitler.

EVA BRAUN AND ADOLF HITLER

Eva Braun met Hitler, 23 years her senior, at Hoffmann’s studio (see right below) of Munich in October 1929.

Heinrich Hoffmann (see left) was born 12 – 9 – 1885 in Fürth, Germany, four years before Adolf Hitler (see Adolf Hitler).
After leaving school he worked in his father’s photography shop.
He joined the German Army where he worked as an official photographer during the First World War. His first book of photographs were published in 1919.
He joined the NSDAP in 1920 and was chosen by its new leader, Hitler,  as his official photographer. The two became close friends.
Hoffmann’s photographs were published as postage stamps, postcards, posters and picture books.        
Following Hoffmann’s suggestion, both he and Hitler received royalties from all uses of Hitler’s image, even on postage stamps, which made the photographer wealthy.
In 1933 he was elected to the Reichstag and in 1938 Hitler appointed him a ‘Professor’.
Eva was girlfriend with Hoffmann’s daughter Henriette (see Henriette Hoffmann), who married the Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach (see Schirach).
Heinrich was arrested at the end of the World War II and was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment as a Nazi profiteer.
Upon release from prison on 31-05-1950 he settled in the small village Epfach in the Munich area where he died 7 years later at age 72, on 11-12-1957.
Hoffmann is buried on the Westfriedhof of Munich, together with his daughter Henriette.
Only steps away is the grave of the secretary of Hitler Traudl Junge. 

Hitler (see left) had been introduced to Eva as “Herr Wolff” (a childhood nickname he used among his close friends).


She described him to friends as a “gentleman of a certain age with a moustache, a light-coloured English overcoat, and carrying a big felt hat.
He appreciated her limpid blue eye colour, which was said to be close to his mother’s (see right Klara Hitler).

click here for more information about Adolf Hitler

Her family was strongly against the relationship and little is known about it during the first two years.

Hitler saw more of Eva after the apparent 1931 suicide of his half sister (see right), Angela’s daughter Geli Raubal (see left), with whom he had an affair.


The circumstances of Geli’s death in Munich have never been confirmed.
Some historians suggest she killed herself because she was distraught over her relationship with Hitler or his relationship with Braun, while others have speculated Hitler played a more direct role in the death of his niece.


Eva was unaware that Raubal was a rival for Hitler’s affections until after Raubal’s death.
Meanwhile, Hitler was seeing other women, such as actress Renate Müller (see right), whose early death may also have been suicide.
Eva’s first attempted suicide on 1 November 1932 at the age of 20 by shooting herself in the chest with her father’s pistol.
She attempted suicide a second time on 28 May 1935 by taking an overdose of Phanodorm (sleeping pills).


After Eva’s recovery, Hitler became more committed to her and arranged for the substantial royalties from widely published and popular photographs of him taken by Hoffmann’s photo studio to pay for a villa in Munich (see left).


This income also provided her with a Mercedes, a chauffeur and a maid.
Eva’s sister Gretl moved in with her.
Hoffmann later asserted Frauline Braun  became a fixture in Hitler’s life by attempting suicide less than a year after Geli Raubal’s death, as Hitler wished to avoid any further scandal.


When Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, Eva sat on the stage in the area reserved for VIPs as a secretary, to which Hitler’s sister Angela strongly objected, along with the wives of other ministers.
She was banned from living anywhere near Eva as a result.





By 1936, Eva was at Hitler’s household at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden, whenever he was in residence there and her parents were also invited for dinner several times.





click here for more information about Berchtesgaden and the Berghof



In 1938, Hitler named Eva his primary heir, to receive about 600 pounds yearly after his death.
Nonetheless, Eva’s political influence on Hitler was apparently minimal.
She was never allowed to stay in the room when business or political conversations took place.
It is not certain whether Eva was a member of the Nazi party.
According to biographer Angela Lambert, Eva was neither a member nor ever pressured to join.
By all accounts, she led a sheltered and privileged existence and seemed uninterested in politics.
The only known instance in which she took any interest in policy and politics was in 1943, shortly after Germany had fully transitioned to a total war economy.
Among other things, the transition meant a potential ban on women’s cosmetics and luxuries (as was already the case in the Allied countries).


According to Albert Speer’s (see left) memoir, ‘Inside the Third Reich’, Eva immediately approached Hitler in “high indignation”, to which an “uncertain” Hitler instructed Speer to simply and quietly cease production of women’s cosmetics and luxuries rather than an outright ban.
Hitler and Eva never appeared as a couple in public and there is some indication that this, along with their not having married early in their relationship, was due to Hitler’s belief that he would lose popularity among female supporters.
The German people were wholly unaware of Eva Braun’s relationship with Hitler until after the war.
According to Speer’s memoirs, Eva never slept in the same room as Hitler and had her own rooms at the Berghof, in Hitler’s Berlin residence and in the Berlin bunker.

Speer also wrote:

Eva Braun was allowed to be present during visits from old party associates.

She was banished as soon as other dignitaries of the Reich, such as cabinet ministers, appeared at the table … Hitler obviously regarded her as socially acceptable only within strict limits.
Sometimes I kept her company in her exile, a room next to Hitler’s bedroom.
She was so intimidated that she did not dare leave the house for a walk.
Out of sympathy for her predicament I soon began to feel a liking for this unhappy woman, who was so deeply attached to Hitler.
Speer later said, “Eva Braun will prove a great disappointment to historians.”
Even during World War II, Eva apparently lived a life of leisure, spending her time exercising, reading romance novels, watching films and early German television (at least until around 1943), along with later helping to host gatherings of Hitler’s inner circle.
She reportedly accepted gifts which were stolen property belonging to deposed European royal families.

Traudl Junge (see right), Hitler’s youngest secretary, wrote in her memoirs ‘Until the Final Hour’ –

She was very well dressed and groomed, and I noticed her natural unaffected manner.
She wasn’t the kind of ideal German girl you saw on recruiting posters for the BDM (see left) or in woman’s magazines.
Her carefully done hair was bleached, and her pretty face was made up — quite heavily but in very good taste.
Eva Braun wasn’t tall but she had a very pretty figure and a distinguished appearance.

She knew just how to dress in a style that suited her and never looked as if she had overdone it — she always seemed appropriately and tastefully dressed, although she wore valuable jewellery. …Eva wasn’t allowed to change her hair style.

Once she appeared with her hair tinted slightly darker and on one occasion she piled it up on the top of her head.
Hitler was horrified: ‘you look totally strange, quite changed. You are an entirely different woman !’ …and Eva Braun made haste to revert to the way she looked before.’
Traudl Junge (born Gertraud Humps; 16 March 1920 – 10 February 2002) was Adolf Hitler’s youngest personal private secretary, from December 1942 to April 1945.
Gertraud “Traudl” Humps was born in Munich, the daughter of a master brewer and lieutenant in the Reserve Army, Max Humps and his wife Hildegard (née Zottmann).
She had a sister, Inge, born in 1923.
As a teenager she thought of becoming a ballerina.
Traudl Junge began working for Hitler in December 1942.
She was the youngest of his private secretaries.
“I was 22 and I didn’t know anything about politics, it didn’t interest me”,
Junge said decades later, also saying that she felt great guilt for “…liking the greatest criminal ever to have lived.”
She said, “I admit, I was fascinated by Adolf Hitler.
He was a pleasant boss and a fatherly friend.
I deliberately ignored all the warning voices inside me and enjoyed the time by his side almost until the bitter end. It wasn’t what he said, but the way he said things and how he did things.”
At Hitler’s encouragement, in June 1943 Junge married Waffen-SS officer Hans Hermann Junge (1914 – 1944), who died in combat in France in August 1944. 
She worked at Hitler’s side in Berlin, the Berghof in Berchtesgaden, at Wolfsschanze in East Prussia, and lastly back in Berlin in the Führerbunker.

Unlike most other Germans, Eva was reportedly free to read European and American magazines and watch foreign films.
Her affection for nude sunbathing (and being photographed at it) is known to have infuriated Hitler.


Braun had a lifelong interest in photography and their closest friends called her the Rolleiflex Girl (after the well-known camera model).

She did her own darkroom processing of silver (black and white) stills and most of the extant colour stills and movies of Hitler are her work.
Otto Günsche and Heinz Linge, during extensive debriefings by Soviet intelligence officials after the war, said Eva was at the centre of Hitler’s life for most of his 12 years in power.

It was said that in 1936, he was always accompanied by her.

As soon as he heard the voice of his lover he became jollier.
He would make jokes about her new hats.
He would take her for hours on end into his study where there would be champagne cooling in ice, chocolates, cognac, and fruit.
The interrogation report adds that when Hitler was too busy for her, “Eva would often be in tears.”


Speer remarked that she had told him, in the middle of 1943, that Hitler was often too busy, immersed, or tired to spend time with her.

Linge stated in his memoirs that Hitler and Eva had two bedrooms and two bathrooms with interconnecting doors at the Berghof and Hitler would end most evenings alone with her in his study before they retired to bed.
She would be wearing a “dressing gown or house-coat“, drinking wine while Hitler would have tea.





Eva was very fond of her two Scottish Terrier dogs named Negus and Stasi (see left)
(this dog is labelled “Katuschka” in Eva Braun’s photo albums)
and they feature in her home movies.










She usually kept them away from Hitler’s German Shepherd “Blondi” (see right).

In 1944, Eva invited her cousin Gertraud Weisker to visit her at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden.
Decades later, Weisker recalled that although women in the Third Reich were expected not to wear make-up, drink, or smoke, Eva did all of these things.
She was the unhappiest woman I have ever met,” said Weisker, who informed Eva about how poorly the war was going for Germany, having illegally listened to BBC news broadcasts in German.

On 3 June 1944, Eva Braun’s younger sister Gretl married SS-Gruppenführer Hermann Fegelein, who served as Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler’s liaison officer on Hitler’s staff.
Hitler used the marriage as an excuse to allow Eva to appear at official functions.


When Fegelein (see right) was caught in the closing days of the war trying to escape to Sweden with another woman, Hitler ordered his execution.

Gretl was nine months pregnant with a daughter at this time and after the war named the child Eva Barbara Fegelein in remembrance of her sister (Eva Fegelein (see left) committed suicide 25 April 1975).
After learning about the failed 20 July plot to kill Hitler, Eva wrote to him, “From our first meeting I swore to follow you anywhere even unto death. I live only for your love.”

In early April 1945, Eva travelled by car from Munich to Berlin to be with Hitler at the Führerbunker (see left).

She refused to leave as the Red Army closed in, insisting she was one of the few people loyal to him left in the world.
After midnight on 29 April, Hitler and Braun were married in a small civil ceremony within the Führerbunker.
The event was witnessed by Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann.
The bride wore a dark blue silk dress.
Thereafter, Hitler hosted a modest wedding breakfast with his new wife.
With Eva’s marriage, her legal name changed to Eva Hitler. 
After 13:00 on the afternoon of 30 April 1945, Eva and Hitler said their farewells to staff, and members of the “inner circle”.
Later that afternoon at approximately 3:30 pm, several witnesses reported hearing a loud gunshot.
After waiting a few minutes, Hitler’s valet, Heinz Linge, and Hitler’s SS adjutant, Otto Günsche, entered the small study and found the lifeless bodies seated on a small sofa.
The two corpses were carried up the stairs and through the bunker’s emergency exit to the garden behind the Reich Chancellery where they were burned.
Eva was 33 years old when she died.


The rest of Eva’s family (see right) survived the war, including her father, who worked in a hospital and to whom Eva sent several trunks of her belongings in April 1945.







Her mother, Franziska, died at age 91 in January 1976, having lived out her days in an old farmhouse in Ruhpolding (see left), Bavaria –
and thereby hangs a tale –
in August 1959 the author of this blog met Eva’s uncle in Ruhpolding – but not Franziska, although at the time she was very old, but still living in Ruhpolding.


click here for more information and photos about Ruhpolding
_________________________

HITLER’S BERGHOF
Haus Wackenfeld
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Hitler at Haus Wackenfeld
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Haus Wackenfeld
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Haus Wackenfeld
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Haus Wackenfeld
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden

The Terrace
Haus Wackenfeld
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Haus Wackenfeld
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Main Salon – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Main Salon – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Main Salon – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Main Salon – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Large Dining Room – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Main Salon – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Main Salon – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Main Salon – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Hitler on the Terrace with Telescope
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Hitler on the Terrace with Telescope
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden

Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden

‘DIE GROßE LIEBE’
     

‘Die große Liebe’ (The Great Love) is a German drama film of the National Socialist period, made by Rolf Hansen, starring Zarah Leander and Viktor Staal.
It premièred in Berlin in 1942 and went on to become the most commercially successful film in the history of the Third Reich.

The attractive Oberleutnant Paul Wendlandt is stationed in North Africa as a fighter pilot.
While in Berlin to deliver a report he is given a day’s leave, and on the stage of the cabaret theatre “Skala” sees the popular Danish singer Hanna Holberg.
For Paul it is love at first sight.
When Hanna visits friends after the end of the performance, he follows her, and speaks to her in the U-Bahn. After the party in her friends’ flat he accompanies her home, and chance throws them further together when an air raid warning forces them to take cover in the air raid shelter. Hanna reciprocates Paul’s feelings, but after a night spent together Paul has to return immediately to the front.
There now follows a whole series of misunderstandings, and one missed opportunity after another.
While Hanna waits in vain for some sign of life from Paul, he is flying on missions in North Africa.
When he tries to visit her in her Berlin flat, she is giving a Christmas concert in Paris. Nevertheless their bond grows in strength and arouses the jealousy of the composer Rudnitzky, who is also in love with the singer.
Paul asks Hanna in a letter to marry him, however, when he is finally able to visit her, he is called away again on the night before the wedding.
Hanna, disappointed, leaves for Rome, where she has to make a guest appearance.
Even when Paul manages to get three weeks’ leave and follows Hanna to Rome, the wedding has still to be postponed: Paul feels so strongly that he is needed at the front that he goes back even though he has not been ordered to do so.
Hanna does not understand this, and there is an argument, after which Paul thinks he has lost her for ever.
The war against the Soviet Union breaks out (1941) and Paul and his friend Etzdorf are sent to the Eastern Front. When Etzdorf is killed, Paul writes a farewell letter to Hanna, to make the dangers of his missions easier to bear.
Only when he himself has been shot down and wounded and is sent to a military hospital in the mountains does he see Hanna again, who is still prepared to marry him.
The last shots of the film show the happy couple, confident in the future, looking skywards where squadrons of German bombers fly past.

Musical Numbers


Davon geht die Welt nicht unter (“It’s Not the End of the World”)
Blaue Husaren (Heut’ kommen die blauen Husaren) (“Today the Blue Hussars Are Coming”)
Ich weiß, es wird einmal ein Wunder gescheh’n (“I Know a Miracle Will Happen”)
Mein Leben für die Liebe – Jawohl! (“My Life for Love – Jawohl!”)

All the songs were composed by Michael Jary, with lyrics by Bruno Balz and sung by Zarah Leander.
“Davon geht die Welt nicht unter” and “Ich weiß, es wird einmal ein Wunder gescheh’n” were two of the biggest hits of the National Socialist period, and because of their political subtexts were much approved of and promoted by the authorities.
After 1942, as the military situation became more and more unfavourable to Germany, they became a staple element of the prevalent informal propaganda geared to “seeing it through”. 

Cast


The starring roles were played by Zarah Leander as Hanna Holberg and Viktor Staal as Paul Wendlandt.


In its blend of entertainment and propaganda elements the film is paradigmatic for National Socialist cinema in much the same way as ‘Wunschkonzert’, after ‘Die große Liebe’ the next most popular film of the National Socialist period.
While on the one hand the suspense-fully presented love story, with its images of the North African desert, Paris and Rome, as well as the extravagant show numbers, constitutes an invitation to dream, yet on the other hand “Die große Liebe” urges adjustment to the realities of war at all levels.
The film does not just contain original material from the “Die Deutsche Wochenschau” with pictures of German attacks on the English channel coast: the war determines the whole action of the film.
The lesson that Hanna Holberg, and with her the entire public, has to absorb, is the insignificance of individual striving for happiness in times in which higher values – here, the military victory of Germany in World War II – come to the fore.
The film does not gain its political impact by simply urging renunciation or “going without” in difficult times, but by setting off individual happiness against duties which go far beyond the requirements of ordinary military duties.
Paul is not concerned about behaving with military correctness, but about his desire to make his contribution to Germany’s military victory.
He renounces Hanna, not because of military orders recalling him to the front but in order to serve the national cause and if necessary to sacrifice his life for Germany. In the process Hanna learns that waiting and renunciation in war have not only to be accepted as fate, but constitute the really “great love“.
She learns to bravely send him back to his squadron, singing, “The World’s Not Going To End Because of This“.
The film owes by far the greatest part of its attractiveness to Zarah Leander’s performance. When she was selected for the role she had already established a strong profile as an expressive portrayer of self-aware, mature, emotionally stable women, whose plans and lives were thrown into disarray by unexpected blows of fate.
In order to impress also by its modernity, the film took the risk of making – for the time – an unprecedented, realistic representation of day-to-day wartime life, and shows rationing of food, air raid warnings and hours spent waiting in air raid shelters.
All levels of society are depicted as pitching in together, with the heroine coming to know those of much lower social level in the course of the film.
Hanna learns thereby to overcome her snobbishness, manifested in her singing for wounded soldiers.
The depiction of Zarah Leander was also unusual, in that in this film she wore ordinary day clothes, lived in a normal Berlin rented flat and even travelled on the U-Bahn.

Production and Reception


The interior scenes for “Die große Liebe” were filmed from 23 September 1941 to early October 1941 in the Tobis-Sascha-Studio in Vienna – better known as the Rosenhügel Film Studios – and in the Carl Froelich sound studio in Berlin-Tempelhof.

The exterior scenes had been filmed in Berlin and Rome by the middle of March 1942.
The film was submitted to the Film Censor’s Office on 10 June 1942 (Prüf-Nr. B. 57295) when it had a length of 2,738 metres or 100 minutes and was classified as suitable for minors and for public holiday viewing.

It was distributed by the UFA-owned Deutsche Filmvertriebs GmbH (DFV).

On 18 April 1944 it was re-submitted, now with a length of 2,732 metres (B. 60163), and was re-classified as before.
The premier took place on 12 June 1942 in Berlin, in the Germania-Palast cinema on the Frankfurter Allee and the UFA-Palast am Zoo cinema.
‘Die große Liebe’ became the greatest commercial film success of the Third Reich.
It was seen by 27 million spectators and took 8 million Reichsmarks, having cost 3 million to produce.
The Film Censor’s Office pronounced it “politically valuable”, ‘”artistically valuable” and “valuable for the people” – a combination of accolades also granted, for example, to Gerhard Lamprecht’s nationalist hero biography “Diesel” (also 1942).
The film was enormously popular with German audiences during the II World War.
After the end of World War II the Allied Control Commission forbade the film to be screened.

_______________

Weimarer Kultur

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
W E I M A R E R   K U L T U R

Weimar culture refers to the arts and sciences that happened during the Weimar Republic (between Germany’s defeat at the end of World War I in 1918, and Hitler’s rise to power in 1933).
1920s Berlin was at the hectic center of the Weimar culture.
Although not part of the Weimar Republic, some authors also include the German speaking Austria – (the Ostmark), and particularly Vienna, as part of Weimar culture.

Brandenburger Tor – Berlin – 1920s

Germany, and Berlin in particular, were exceptionally fertile ground for intellectuals, artists, and innovators from many fields during the Weimar Republic years.

The social environment was chaotic, and politics were passionate.
A significant new development in Germany’s intellectual environment happened in 1918, when the faculties of German universities became fully opened to prominent Jewish scholars for the first time.
Leading Jewish intellectuals on university faculties included physicist Albert Einstein; sociologists Karl Mannheim, Erich Fromm, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse; philosophers Ernst Cassirer and Edmund Husserl; political theorists Arthur Rosenberg and Gustav Meyer; and many others.
Jewish intellectuals and creative professionals were among the leading figures in many areas of Weimar culture.
With the rise of National Socialism and the ascent to power of Adolf Hitler in 1933, many German intellectuals and cultural figures, both Jewish and non-Jewish, left Germany for the United States, the United Kingdom, and other parts of the world.
The culture of the Weimar year was later reprised by the left-wing intellectuals of the 1960s, especially in France.
Deleuze, Guattari and Foucault reprised Wilhelm Reich; Derrida reprised Husserl and Heidegger; Guy Debord and the Situationist International reprised the subversive-revolutionary culture.
Social Environment
By 1919, an “influx” of labor had migrated to Berlin turning it into a fertile ground for the modern arts and sciences.
This caused “a boom in trade, communications and construction.”

Old Berlin

In response to the shortage of pre-war accommodation and housing, tenements were constructed not very far from the Kaiser’s Stadtschloss and all the other majestic structures. People used their backyards and basements to run small shops, restaurants, workshops and haulage carts.

This led to the establishment of bigger and better commerce in Berlin, including its first department stores, prior to World War I.
An “urban petty bourgeoisie” along with the middle class colonized and flourished the wholesale commerce, retail trade, factories and crafts.
Types of employment were becoming more modern, shifting gradually, but noticeably, towards industry and services.
Before World War I, in 1907, 54.9% of German workers were manual labourers.
This dropped to 50.1% by 1925.
Berlin – 1920s

Office workers, managers, and bureaucrats increased their share of the labour market from 10.3% to 17% over the same period. Germany was slowly becoming more urban and middle class.

By 1925, only a third of Germans lived in large cities; the other two-thirds of the population lived in the smaller towns or in rural areas.
The total population of Germany rose from 62.4 million in 1920 to 65.2 million in 1933.
The Wilheminian values were further discredited as consequence of World War I and the subsequent inflation, since the new youth generation saw no point in saving for marriage in such conditions, and preferred instead to spend and enjoy.
The Fritz Lang movie ‘Dr. Mabuse the Gambler’ (1922) captures Berlin’s postwar mood very well.
The film moves from the world of the slums to the world of the stock exchange and then to the cabarets and nightclubs, and everywhere chaos reigns, authority is discredited, power is mad and uncontrollable, wealth inseparable from crime.
Politically and economically, the nation was struggling with the terms and reparations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles (1918) that ended World War I and endured punishing levels of inflation.
Sociology
Max Weber
Martin Hiedegger

During the era of the Weimar Republic, Germany became a center of intellectual thought at its universities, and most notably social and political theory (especially Marxism) was combined with Freudian psychoanalysis to form the highly influential discipline of Critical Theory – with its development at the Institute for Social Research (also known as the Frankfurt School) founded at the University of Frankfurt am Main.

Erich Fromm

The most prominent philosophers with which the so-called ‘Frankfurt School’ is associated were Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Jürgen Habermas and Max Horkheimer.

Among the prominent philosophers not associated with the Frankfurt School were Martin Heidegger and Max Weber.
The German philosophical anthropology movement also emerged at this time.

Science
Many foundational contributions to quantum mechanics were made in Weimar Germany or by German scientists during the Weimar period.

Das Kätzchen von Schrödinger
© Peter Crawford 2012
Werner Heisenberg
Prominent German physicists included Erwin Schrödinger, and Werner Heisenberg, who formulated his famous ‘Uncertainty Principle’, and, with Max Born and Pascual Jordan, accomplished the first complete and correct definition of ‘quantum mechanics’, through the invention of Matrix mechanics.

Werner Karl Heisenberg (5 December 1901 – 1 February 1976) was a German theoretical physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1932 “for the creation of quantum mechanics”. Heisenberg, along with Max Born and Pascual Jordan, set forth the matrix formulation of quantum mechanics in 1925. In 1927 he published his uncertainty principle, upon which he built his philosophy and for which he is best known. He also made important contributions to the theories of the hydrodynamics of turbulent flows, the atomic nucleus, ferromagnetism, cosmic rays, and subatomic particles. Considerable controversy surrounds his work on atomic research during World War II.

Göttingen was the center of fluiddynamic and aerodynamic research in the early 20th century.

Ludwig Prandtl 

Mathematical aerodynamics was founded by Ludwig Prandtl before WW I (by understanding boundary layers and progressing calculation in the down stream direction).

It was there that compressability drag and its reduction in aircraft was first understood.
Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe

A striking example of this is the Messerschmitt Me 262, which was designed in 1939, but resembles a modern jet transport more that it did other tactical aircraft of its time.

Albert Einstein rose to public prominence during his years in Berlin, being awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921.
He was left Germany for America in 1933.

Magnus Hirschfeld

Physician Magnus Hirschfeld established the ‘Institut für Sexualwissenschaft’ (Institute for Sexology) in 1919, and it remained open until 1933.

Hirschfeld believed that an understanding of homosexuality could be arrived at through science.
Hirschfeld was a vocal advocate for homosexual, bisexual, and transgender legal rights for men and women, repeatedly petitioning parliament for legal changes. 
His Institute also included a museum.
If we also include the German speaking Vienna, during the Weimar years Mathematician Kurt Gödel published his ground-breaking ‘Incompleteness Theorem’.

The Arts
During the fourteen years of the Weimar era German artists made contributions in the fields of literature, art, architecture, music, dance, drama, and the new medium of the motion picture.
German visual art, music, and literature were all strongly influenced by German Expressionism at the start of the Weimar Republic.

The early twentieth century was a period of wrenching changes in the arts.
In the visual arts, such innovations as cubism, Dada and surrealism – following hot on the heels of symbolism, post-Impressionism and Fauvism – were not universally appreciated. The majority of people in Germany, as elsewhere, did not care for the new art which many resented as elitist, morally suspect, and too often incomprehensible.

By 1920, a sharp turn was taken towards the ‘Neue Sachlichkeit’ (New Objectivity) outlook. Neue Sachlichkeit was not a strict movement in the sense of having a clear manifesto or set of rules.

Under the Weimar government of the 1920s, Germany emerged as a leading centre of the avant-garde – the birthplace of Expressionism in painting and sculpture, of the atonal musical compositions of Arnold Schoenberg, and the jazz-influenced work of Paul Hindemith and Kurt Weill.
Robert Wiene’s ‘Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari’ (1920), and F.W. Murnau’s ‘Nosferatu’ (1922), brought Expressionism to cinema.

Neue Sachlichkeit is a term used to characterize the attitude of public life in Weimar Germany as well as the art, literature, music, and architecture created to adapt to it. Rather than some goal of philosophical objectivity, it was meant to imply a turn towards practical engagement with the world—an all-business attitude, understood by Germans as intrinsically American: “The Neue Sachlichkeit is Americanism, cult of the objective, the hard fact, the predilection for functional work, professional conscientiousness, and usefulness.”
The term was originally the title of an art exhibition staged by Gustav Friedrich Hartlaub, the director of the Kunsthalle in Mannheim, to showcase artists who were working in a post-expressionist spirit, but it took a life of its own, going beyond Hartlaub’s intentions. As these artists rejected the self-involvement and romantic longings of the expressionists, Weimar intellectuals in general made a call to arms for public collaboration, engagement, and rejection of romantic idealism.
The movement essentially ended in 1933 with the fall of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the NSDAP to power.

Entartete Kunst Exhibition
Entartete Kunst

Artists gravitating towards this aesthetic defined themselves by rejecting the themes of expressionism, romanticism, fantasy, subjectivity, raw emotion and impulse—and focused instead on precision, deliberateness, and depicting the factual and the ‘real’.

Much Weimar art was political – a questionable position for the arts – and was fiercely experimental, iconoclastic and left-leaning, spiritually hostile to business and bourgeois society.
Not surprisingly, the old autocratic German establishment saw it as ‘Entartete Kunst’ (decadent art), a view shared by Adolf Hitler who became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933.

The National Socialists viewed the culture of the Weimar period with disgust.
Their response stemmed partly from a conservative aesthetic taste, and partly from their determination to use culture as a propaganda tool.
For the National Socialists, the model for the arts was to be classical Greek and Roman art, seen by Hitler as an art whose exterior form embodied an inner racial ideal.

The Jewish and left wing nature of all art that was indecipherable, distorted, or that represented depraved subject matter was explained through the concept of degeneracy, which held that distorted and corrupted art was a symptom of an inferior race.
By propagating the theory of degeneracy, National Socialism combined their anti-Semitism with their drive to control the culture, thus consolidating public support for both campaigns.
Modern art was seen as an act of aesthetic violence by the Jews against the German spirit (Deutsch Geistes).

One of the first major events in the arts during the Weimar Republic was the founding of an organization, the ‘Novembergruppe’ (November Group) on December 3, 1918.

This group was established in the aftermath of the November beginning of the German Revolution of 1918–1919, when Communists, anarchists and pro-republic supporters had fought in the streets for control of the government.

In 1919, the Weimar Republic was established.
Around 100 artists of many genres who identified themselves as avant-garde joined the November Group.
They held 19 exhibitions in Berlin until the group was banned by the Third Reich in 1933.

Walter Gropius
Kurt Weill

The group also had chapters throughout Germany during its existence, and brought the German avant-garde art scene to world attention by holding exhibits in Rome, Moscow and Japan.

Its members also belonged to other art movements and groups during the Weimar Republic era, such as architect Walter Gropius (founder of Bauhaus), and Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht (agitprop theatre).
The artists of the ‘Novembergruppe’ kept the spirit of radicalism alive in German art and culture during the Weimar Republic.
Many of the painters, sculptors, music composers, architects, playwrights, and filmmakers who belonged to it, and still others associated with its members, were the same ones whose art would later be denounced as ‘entartete Kunst’ by Adolf Hitler.
Fine Arts
The Weimar Republic era began in the midst of several major movements in the fine arts that continued into the 1920s.
German Expressionism had begun before World War I and continued to have a strong influence throughout the 1920s, although artists were increasingly likely to position themselves in opposition to expressionist tendencies as the decade went on.
Dada had begun in Zurich during World War I, and became an international phenomenon. Dada artists met and reformed groups of like-minded artists in Paris, Berlin, Cologne, and New York City.

Richard Huelsenbeck

In Germany, Richard Huelsenbeck established the Berlin group, whose members included Jean Arp, John Heartfield, Wieland Hertzfelde, Johannes Baader, Raoul Hausmann, George Grosz and Hannah Höch.

Machines, technology, and a strong Cubism element were features of their work.
Jean Arp and Max Ernst formed a Cologne Dada group, and held a Dada Exhibition there that included a work by Ernst that had an axe “placed there for the convenience of anyone who wanted to attack the work”.
Kurt Schwitters

Kurt Schwitters established his own solitary one-man Dada “group” in Hanover, where he filled two stories of a house (the Merzbau) with sculptures cobbled together with found objects and ephemera, each room dedicated to a notable artist friend of Schwitter’s.

The house was destroyed by Allied bombs in 1943.
The ‘Neue Sachlichkeit’ artists did not belong to a formal group.
Various Weimar Republic artists were oriented towards the concepts associated with it, however.

George Grosz
Broadly speaking, artists linked with New Objectivity include Käthe Kollwitz, Otto Dix, Max Beckmann, George Grosz, John Heartfield, Conrad Felixmüller, Christian Schad, and Rudolf Schlichter, who all worked in different styles, but shared many themes: the horrors of war, social hypocrisy and moral decadence, the plight of the poor.
Otto Dix and George Grosz referred to their own movement as Verism, a reference to the Roman classical Verism approach called verus, meaning “truth”, warts and all.
While their art is recognizable as a bitter, cynical criticism of life in Weimar Germany, they were striving to portray a sense of realism that they saw missing from expressionist works.
‘Neue Sachlichkeit’ became a major undercurrent in all of the arts during the Weimar Republic.
Design
The design field during the Weimar Republic witnessed some radical departures from styles that had come before it.

Marcel Breuer
Wassily Chair – Bauhaus

Bauhaus-style designs are distinctive, and synonymous with modern design.

Designers from these movements turned their energy towards a variety of objects, from furniture, to typography, to buildings.

Marcel Lajos Breuer (22 May 1902 Pécs, Hungary – 1 July 1981 New York City), was a Hungarian-born modernist, architect and furniture designer of Jewish descent. One of the masters of Modernism, Breuer  displayed interest in modular construction and simple forms.
Known to his friends and associates as Lajkó, Breuer studied and taught at the Bauhaus in the 1920s. The Bauhaus curriculum stressed the simultaneous education of its students in elements of visual art, craft and the technology of industrial production. Breuer was eventually appointed to a teaching position as head of the school’s carpentry workshop. He later practiced in Berlin, designing houses and commercial spaces. In the 1920s and 1930s, Breuer pioneered the design of tubular steel furniture. Later in his career he would also turn his attention to the creation of innovative and experimental wooden furniture.

Dada’s goal of critically rethinking design was similar to Bauhaus, but whereas the earlier Dada movement was an aesthetic approach, the Bauhaus was literally a school, an institution that combined a former school of industrial design with a school of arts and crafts.
Wilhelm Wagenfeld
Wagenfeld Lamp WG25
Bauhaus 
The founders intended to fuse the arts and crafts with the practical demands of industrial design, to create works reflecting the ‘Neue Sachlichkeit’ aesthetic in Weimar Germany.

Wilhelm Wagenfeld (* 15 April 1900, Bremen, Germany — † 28 May 1990, Stuttgart, Germany) was an important German industrial designer of the 20th Century, disciple of Bauhaus. He designed glass and metal works for the Jenaer Glaswerk Schott & Gen., the Vereinigte Lausitzer Glaswerke in Weißwasser, Rosenthal, Braun GmbH and WMF. Some of his designs are still produced until these days. One of his classics is a table lamp, known as Wagenfeld Lampe, 1924, which he designed together with Karl J. Jucker. In cooperation with Charles Crodel his works found their way in exhibitions and museums.

Adolf Loos – Villa Karma 1906
Precursor to Albert Speer ?
Adolf  Loos

The origins of Weimar design and architecture are to be found in the works and writings of Adolf Franz Karl Viktor Maria Loos (10 December 1870 – 23 August 1933), who was an Austrian architect.
He was influential in European Modern architecture, and in his essay ‘Ornament and Crime’ he repudiated the florid style of the ‘Vienna Secession’, with the Austrian version of Art Nouveau.

Adolf Loos
Decorative Console

In this and many other essays he contributed to the elaboration of a body of theory and criticism of Modernism in architecture.
Ornament and Crime in no way reflects his architectural style.

Adolf Loos – Table

Loos authored several polemical works.
‘In Spoken into the Void’, published in 1900, Loos attacked the Vienna Secession, at a time when the movement was at its height.
In his essays, Loos used provocative catchphrases and has become noted for one particular essay/manifesto entitled ‘Ornament and Crime’, spoken first in 1910.
In this essay, he explored the idea that the progress of culture is associated with the deletion of ornament from everyday objects (?), and that it was therefore a crime to force craftsmen or builders to waste their time on ornamentation that served to hasten the time when an object would become obsolete.
Loos’ stripped-down buildings influenced the minimal massing of modern architecture, and stirred controversy.

Adolf Loos – Villa Karma 1906
Pendant Light – Adolf Loos

Perhaps surprisingly, some of Loos’s own architectural work was elaborately decorated, although more often inside than outside, and the ornamented interiors frequently featured abstract planes and shapes composed of richly figured materials, such as marble and exotic woods.
The visual distinction is not between complicated and simple, but between “organic” and superfluous decoration.
Loos was also interested in the decorative arts, collecting sterling silver and high quality leather goods, which he noted for their plain yet luxurious appeal.
He also enjoyed fashion and men’s clothing, designing the famed Kníže of Vienna, a haberdashery.
His admiration for the fashion and culture of England and America can be seen his short-lived publication ‘Das Andere’, which ran for just two issues in 1903 and included advertisements for ‘English’ clothing.

____________________________________________
Bauhaus Building – Model
Walter Gropius, a founder of the Bauhaus school, stated “we want an architecture adapted to our world of machines, radios and fast cars.

Walter Adolph Georg Gropius (May 18, 1883 – July 5, 1969) was a German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School, who, along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture.

Gropius is remembered not only by his various buildings but also by the district of Gropiusstadt in Berlin. In the early 1990s, a series of books entitled The Walter Gropius Archive was published covering his entire architectural career. 

Berlin and other parts of Germany still have many surviving landmarks of the architectural style at the Bauhaus.
The mass housing projects of Ernst May and Bruno Taut are evidence of markedly creative designs being incorporated as a major feature of new planned communities.
Glass Pavilion – Cologne Werkbund

Bruno Julius Florian Taut (4 May 1880, Königsberg, Germany – 24 December 1938, Istanbul), was a prolific German architect, urban planner and author active during the Weimar period.
Taut is known best for his theoretical work, speculative writings and the buildings he designed. Taut’s best-known single building is the prismatic dome of the Glass Pavilion for the Cologne Werkbund Exhibition (1914). His sketches for the publication “Alpine Architecture” (1917) are the work of an unabashed Utopian visionary, and he is classified as a Modernist. Much of Taut’s literary work in German remains untranslated into English.

Erich Mendelsohn and Hans Poelzig are other prominent Bauhaus architects.
Kaufhaus Schocken – Department Store – Chemnitz
Einsteinturm

Erich Mendelsohn (21 March 1887 – 15 September 1953) was a Jewish German architect, known for his expressionist architecture in the 1920s, as well as for developing a dynamic functionalism in his projects for department stores and cinemas. Erich Mendelsohn was born in Allenstein (Olsztyn), East Prussia. He was the fifth of six children; his mother was a hatmaker and his father a shopkeeper. He attended a humanist Gymnasium in Allenstein and continued with commercial training in Berlin. At the end of 1918, upon his return from World War I, he settled his practice in Berlin. The Einsteinturm (Einstein Tower),  Potsdam, Berlin established his reputation. In 1924, along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, he was one of the founders of the progressive architectural group known as Der Ring. His practice employed as many as forty people, among them, as a trainee, Julius Posener, later an architectural historian. Mendelsohn’s work encapsulated the consumerism of the Weimar Republic, most particularly in his shops: most famously the Schocken Department Store

Mies van der Rohe
Barcelona Pavilion
Mies van der Rohe is undoubtedly the greatest architect to emerge from the Weimar design movement.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (born as Maria Ludwig Michael Mies; March 27, 1886, Aachen – August 17, 1969, Chicago) was a German-American architect.
He is commonly referred to, and was addressed, as Mies, his surname.





Mies van der Rohe
Mies van der Rohe – Barcelona Pavilion

Mies, like many of his post-World War I contemporaries, sought to establish a new architectural style that could represent modern times just as Classical and Gothic did for their own eras. He created an influential twentieth century architectural style, stated with extreme clarity and simplicity. His mature buildings made use of modern materials such as industrial steel and plate glass to define interior spaces. He strived towards an architecture with a minimal framework of structural order balanced against the implied freedom of free-flowing open space. 


He called his buildings “skin and bones” architecture. He sought a rational approach that would guide the creative process of architectural design. He is often associated with the aphorisms “less is more” and “God is in the details”.
The architecture of Mies is in fact a continuation, using modern materials, of the neo-classical revival of the late nineteenth century.

Fritz Mayer  – The Hall of Honour – 1929 – Nuremberg





During the Weimar Republic (1919–1933), the City of Nuremberg had a monument erected, to commemorate the 9,855 Nuremberg soldiers killed in World War I.
The design was by architect Fritz Mayer. A rectangular yard is adjacent to the arcaded hall, with a row of pillars carrying fire bowls on either side. Lord Mayor Hermann Luppe officially opened the hall in 1930.


Painter Paul Klee was a faculty member of Bauhaus.
Bruno Taut and Adolf Behne founded the ‘Arbeitsrat für Kunst’ (Workers’ Council for Art) in 1919.
Their aim was to assert pressure for political change on the Weimar Republic government, that would benefit the management of architecture and arts management, similar to Germany’s large councils for workers and soldiers.
This Berlin organization had around 50 members.
Still another influential affiliation of architects was the group ‘Der Ring’ (The Ring)  (see above) established by ten architects in Berlin in 1923-24, including: Otto Bartning, Peter Behrens, Hugo Häring, Erich Mendelsohn, Mies van der Rohe, Bruno Taut and Max Taut.
The group promoted the progress of modernism in architecture.
Hans Poelzig

Hans Poelzig (30 April 1869 Berlin – 14 June 1936 Berlin) was a German Jewish Left-Wing architect, painter and set designer.
In 1903 he became a teacher and director at the Breslau Academy of Art and Design (Kunst- und Gewerbeschule Breslau; today Wrocław, Poland).
From 1920-1935 he taught at the Technical University of Berlin (Technische Hochschule Berlin).
After finishing his architectural education around the turn of the century, Poelzig designed many industrial buildings. He designed the 51.2 m tall Upper Silesia Tower in Posen (today Poznań) for an industrial fair in 1911. It later became a water tower. He was appointed city architect of Dresden in 1916.
He was an influential member of the Deutscher Werkbund.

Poelzig was also known for his distinctive 1919 interior redesign of the Berlin Grosses Schauspielhaus for Weimar impresario Max Reinhardt
He was also renowned for his vast architectural set designs for the 1920 UFA film production of ‘The Golem: How He Came Into the World’.

‘The Golem: How He Came Into the World’

(Poelzig mentored Edgar Ulmer on that film; when Ulmer directed the 1934 film noir Universal Studios production of ‘The Black Cat’, he returned the favor by naming the architect-Satanic-high-priest villain character “Hjalmar Poelzig”, played by Boris Karloff.)
With his Weimar architect contemporaries like Bruno Taut and Ernst May, Poelzig’s work developed through Expressionism and the New Objectivity in the mid-1920s before arriving at a more conventional, economical style.

I.G. Farben Building

In 1927 he was one of the exhibitors in the first International Style project, the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart.
Poelzig’s single best-known building is the enormous and legendary I.G. Farben Building, completed in 1931 as the administration building for IG Farben in Frankfurt am Main.
In 1933 Poelzig served as the interim director of the Vereinigte Staatsschulen für freie und angewandete Kunst (United State School for Fine and Applied Art), after the expulsion of founding director Bruno Paul by the National Socialists. Poelzig died in Berlin in June 1936.


Literature
Tadzio
Thomas Mann 

Writers such as Alfred Döblin, Erich Maria Remarque and the brothers Heinrich and Thomas Mann presented a bleak look at the world, and the failure of politics and society through literature.

Mann’s diaries, unsealed in 1975, tell of his struggles with his homosexuality, which found reflection in his works, most prominently through the obsession of the elderly Aschenbach for the 14-year-old Polish boy Tadzio in the novella ‘Der Tod in Venedig’ (Death in Venice – 1912).



Der Zauberberg

His works also present other sexual themes, such as incest in ‘Wälsungenblut’ (The Blood of the Walsungs) and ‘Der Erwählte’ (The Holy Sinner).
Balancing his humanism and appreciation of Western culture, was his belief in the power of sickness and decay to destroy the ossifying effects of tradition and civilisation. Hence the “heightening” of which Mann speaks in his introduction to ‘Der Zauberberg’ (The Magic Mountain).
‘Der Zauberberg’ was first published in November 1924. It is widely considered to be one of the most influential works of 20th century German literature.

Foreign writers also travelled to Berlin, lured by the city’s dynamic, freer culture.
The decadent cabaret scene of Berlin was documented by Britain’s Christopher Isherwood, such as in his novel ‘Goodbye to Berlin’ which was later transposed to the musical film ‘Cabaret’.
Cabaret – Tomorrow Belongs to Me
‘The Berlin Stories’ (Die Berliner Geschichten) is a book consisting of two short novels by Christopher Isherwood: ‘Goodbye to Berlin’ and ‘Mr Norris Changes Trains’. It was published in 1945.
‘The Berlin Stories’ was chosen as a ‘Time 100 Best English-Language Novels of the 20th Century’.

The two novellas are set in Berlin in 1931, just as Adolf Hitler was moving into power. Berlin is portrayed by Isherwood during this transition period of cafes and quaint avenues, grotesque night-life and dreamers, and powerful mobs and millionaires.
‘The Berlin Stories’ was the starting point for the John Van Druten play ‘I Am a Camera’, which in turn went on to inspire the film ‘I Am a Camera’, as well as the stage musical and film versions of ‘Cabaret’.
The character Sally Bowles is probably the best-known character from ‘The Berlin Storie’s because of her later starring role in the ‘Cabaret’ musical and film, although in ‘The Berlin Stories’, she is only the main character of one short story in ‘Goodbye to Berlin’.

Poetry


Probably the most significant poet of the Weimar period was Stefan George.

Stefan George
George was born in Bingen in Prussia in 1868.
He spent time in Paris and began to publish poetry in the 1890s, while in his twenties. George founded and edited an important literary magazine called ‘Blätter für die Kunst’ (Magazine for the Arts).


Stefan George was also at the centre of an influential literary and academic circle known as the ‘George-Kreis’ (George Circle), which included many of the leading young writers of the day, (for example Friedrich Gundolf and Ludwig Klages).
In addition to sharing cultural interests, the circle reflected mystical and political themes. 
Stefan George was a homosexual, yet exhorted his young friends to lead a celibate life, like his own.
In 1914 at the start of the war he foretold a sad end for Germany, and between then and 1916 wrote the pessimistic poem ‘Der Krieg’ (The War).
He died near Locarno in 1933.

Maximilian Kronberger
Some of his most significant work includes ‘Algabal’, and the love poetry he devoted to a gifted adolescent of his acquaintance named Maximilian Kronberger, whom he called “Maximin”, and whom he identified as a manifestation of the divine.

Maximilian Kronberger, known familiarly as Maximin (April 15, 1888 — April 16, 1904), was a German poet and a significant figure in the literary circle of Stefan George (the so‑called George‑Kreis).
Maximin came to the attention of Stefan George in Munich in 1903 –  he died unexpectedly of meningitis the following year, on the day after his 16th birthday. He was idealized by George to the point of proclaiming him a god, following his death… the cult of ‘Maximin’ became an integral part of the George circle’s practice.

Albert Speer
George  thought of himself as a messiah of a new kingdom that would be led by intellectual or artistic elites, bonded by their faithfulness to a strong leader.
In his memoirs, Albert Speer claims to have seen George in the early 1920s and that his elder brother, Hermann, was a member of his inner circle: George “radiated dignity and pride and a kind of priestliness… there was something magnetic about him.”
George’s late works include ‘Geheimes Deutschland’ (“Secret Germany”) written in 1922, and ‘Das neue Reich’ (The New Empire), which was published in 1928, which outlines a new form of society ruled by hierarchical spiritual aristocracy.
Although George was never a member of the NSDAP, his later works paved the way for the acceptance of National Socialist philosophy in upper class, intellectual circles.

Theatre
One of the most influential works for the Weimar stage was ‘Die Dreigroschenoper’ (The Threepenny Opera) by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill (1928).

“Das Moritat von Mackie Messer”, (The Ballad of Mack the Knife) is a song composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for their music drama ‘Die Dreigroschenoper’. It premiered in Berlin in 1928 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. The song has become a popular standard.
A moritat (from mori meaning “deadly” and tat meaning “deed”) is a medieval version of the murder ballad performed by strolling minstrels.
In  ‘Die Dreigroschenoper’, the moritat singer, with his street organ, introduces and closes the drama with the tale of the deadly Mackie Messer, a character based on the dashing highwayman Macheath in John Gay’s ‘The Beggar’s Opera’ (who was in turn based on the historical thief Jack Sheppard). The Brecht-Weill version of the character was far more cruel and sinister, and has been transformed into a modern anti-hero.

‘Und der Haifisch, der hat Zähne,
Und die trägt er im Gesicht.
Und Macheath, der hat ein Messer,
Doch das Messer sieht man nicht’
The theatres of Berlin and Frankfurt am Main were graced with drama by Ernst Toller, Bertolt Brecht, cabaret, and stage direction by Max Reinhardt and Erwin Piscator.
Ernst Toller

Ernst Toller (1 December 1893 – 22 May 1939) was a German-Jewish, left-wing playwright, best known for his Expressionist plays, and serving as President of the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic, for six days.
The republic was short-lived and was defeated by right-wing forces. Toller was imprisoned for five years for his part in the revolution.
Toller committed suicide by hanging on May 22, 1939.

Many theatre works were sympathetic towards Marxist themes, or were overt experiments in propaganda, such as the agitprop theatre by Brecht and Weill.
Bertolt Brecht

Agitprop theatre is a named through a combination of the words “agitation” and “propaganda”.

Its aim was to add elements of left wing public protest (agitation) and persuasive politics (propaganda) to the theatre, in the hope of creating a more activist audience.
Toller was the leading German expressionist playwright of the era.
He later became one of the leading proponents of ‘Neue Sachlichkeit’ in the theatre.
The avant-garde theater of Bertolt Brecht and Max Reinhardt in Berlin was the most advanced in Europe, being rivaled only by that of Paris.
Music
Concert halls and conservatories exhibited the atonal and modern music of Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg, and Kurt Weill.
Hanns Eisler and Paul Dessau were other modernist composers of the era.
Undoubtedly the two greatest German composers of the Wiemar period were Richard Strauss and Hans Pfitzner.

Richard Georg Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was undoubtedly the leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras.
His significant works of the Weimar period were:
‘Film music for Der Rosenkavalier’ (1925), and the operas ‘Die Frau ohne Schatten’ (1919), ‘Intermezzo’ (1923), ‘Die ägyptische Helena’ (1927), ‘Arabella’ (1932).
Strauss continued to compose into the era of the Third Reich and beyond (he died in 1949).

Hans Pfitzner


Hans Erich Pfitzner (5 May 1869 – 22 May 1949) is undeservedly less well known. He was a German composer and self-described anti-modernist.
His own music — including pieces in all the major genres except the symphonic poem — was respected by contemporaries such as Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. 
Pfitzner’s works combine Romantic and Late Romantic elements with extended thematic development, atmospheric music drama, and the intimacy of chamber music.
His greatest work of the period was the romantische Kantate ‘Von deutscher Seele’ (Of the German Soul) (1921).
During this period he also composed a ‘Sonata in e-minor for Violin and Piano’ Op. 27 (1918), and his ‘String Quartet [Nr. 3] in C-Sharp minor’ (1925).
Other Orchestral works composed during the Weimar period include the ‘Piano concerto in E-flat Major’ (1922), the ‘Violin Concerto in b-minor’ (1923) and the Symphony in C-sharp Minor (1932).

Cinema
At the beginning of the Weimar era, cinema meant silent films.
Some films from this period have remained among the most well known in all of German cinema, however, a testament to the creative power of the artists who made them using the most basic of early film technology.
Expressionist films featured plots exploring the dark side of human nature.
They had elaborate expressionist design sets, and the style was typically nightmarish in atmosphere.
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari

‘Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari’ (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) (1919), directed by Robert Wiene, is usually credited as the first, and one of the greatest German expressionist film.

The sets depict distorted, warped-looking buildings in a German town, while the plot centres around a mysterious, magical cabinet that has a clear association with a casket. F. W. Murnau’s vampire horror film ‘Nosferatu’ was released in 1922.
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari

‘Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari’ (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) is a 1920 German silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene from a screenplay by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. It is one of the most influential of German Expressionist films and is often considered one of the greatest horror movies of the silent era. The film used stylized sets, with abstract, jagged buildings painted on canvas backdrops and flats. These unique sets gave off somewhat of a theatrical sense. To add to this strange style, the actors used an unrealistic technique that exhibited jerky and dancelike movements. This movie is cited as having introduced the twist ending in cinema.

Dr. Mabuse der Spieler

Director Fritz Lang created perhaps the most globally well-known cinema examples of German Expressionism.

Lang’s ‘Dr. Mabuse der Spieler’ (Dr. Mabuse the Gambler) (1922) was a hugely popular film when it was released.
It is described as “a sinister tale” that portrays “the corruption and social chaos so much in evidence in Berlin and more generally, according to Lang, in Weimar Germany”.

Fritz Lang

‘Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler’ is the first film in the Dr. Mabuse series, about the character Doctor Mabuse who featured in the novels of Norbert Jacques. It was directed by Fritz Lang and released in 1922. The film is silent and filmed mostly 16 frames per second.
It is about four hours long and divided into two parts: Der große Spieler: Ein Bild der Zeit and Inferno: Ein Spiel um Menschen unserer Zeit. The title, Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler, is plurivalent. Der Spieler means the player in German, and can be translated as the gambler, the actor, or the puppeteer. Dr. Mabuse, who disguises, plays with emotions and tricks other people, is probably all of them in some sense.
The film is included in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, being the first of five Lang films to be entered.

Futurism is another favourite expressionist them, shown corrupted into a force of oppression in the dystopia in one of the greatest films ever produced – ‘Metropolis’ (1927).
Metropolis – the Workers
Metropolis – Rotwang

Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist science-fiction film directed by Fritz Lang. The film was written by Lang and his wife Thea Von Harbou, and starred Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel and Rudolf Klein-Rogge. A silent film, it was produced in the Babelsberg Studios by UFA.
Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia, and follows the attempts of Freder, the wealthy son of the city’s ruler, and Maria, whose background is not fully explained in the film, to overcome the vast gulf separating the class structured nature of their city.

Metropolis – ‘Head and Hand’
Metropolis

The significant theme of Metropolis is the conflict between intellectual and practical form of working – reflected in the modes of operation of the capitalist owners of production and the workers who bring the ideas of the owners into fruition and actuality.
In the climax to the film, Freder acts as the intermediary between his father, Joh Fredersen, and the leader of the workers – encouraging the two former adversaries to symbolically shake hands – and therefore uniting capital and labour.
This intermediary figure can be seen as a precursor of Adolf Hitler who, in 1933,  united capital and labour in the ‘Volksgemeinschaft’.

Dr. Joseph Goebbels

Reichsminister Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, was impressed, and took the film’s message to heart. In a 1928 speech he declared that “the political bourgeoisie is about to leave the stage of history. In its place advance the oppressed producers of the ‘head and hand’, the forces of Labour  to begin their historical mission
Metropolis was filmed in 1925, at a cost of approximately five million Reichsmarks.
The appearance of the city in Metropolis is strongly informed by the Art Deco movement; however it also incorporates elements from other traditions. The architecture featured in Metropolis is eclectic and represents both functionalist modernism and art deco, whilst also featuring the scientist’s archaic little house, with its high-powered laboratory, and the catacombs and the Gothic cathedral. The film’s use of art deco architecture was highly influential, and has been reported to have contributed to the style’s subsequent popularity in Europe and America.

The self-deluded lead characters in many expressionist films echo Goethe’s Faust, and Murnau indeed retold the tale in his film ‘Faust’.
German expressionist films represented a significant stylistic and thematic development in film that has had a lasting worldwide influence, however, they were not the dominant type of popular film in Weimar Germany, and were outnumbered by the production of costume dramas, often about folk legends, which were enormously popular with the public.
The Weimar era’s most groundbreaking film studio was the UFA studio.
Universum Film AG – UFA
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Universum Film AG, better known as UFA or Ufa, is a film company that was the principal film studio in Germany, home of the German film industry during the Weimar Republic and through World War II, and a major force in world cinema from 1917 to 1945. After World War II, UFA continued producing movies and television programmes to the present day, making it the longest standing film company in Germany.
UFA was created during November 1917 in Berlin as a government-owned producer of World War I propaganda and public service films.
It was created through the consolidation of most of Germany’s commercial film companies, including Nordisk and Decla.
Decla’s former owner, Erich Pommer, served as producer for the 1920 film ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’, which was not only the best example of German Expressionism and an enormously influential film, but also a commercial success.

UFA-Palast am Zoo

During the same year, UFA opened the UFA-Palast am Zoo theatre in Berlin.
During the Weimar years the studio produced and exported an enormous, accomplished, and inventive body of work. Only an estimated 10% of the studio’s output still exists. Famous directors based at UFA included Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau; under chief producer Erich Pommer the company created landmark films such as ‘Dr. Mabuse’ (1922), ‘Metropolis’ (1927), and Marlene Dietrich’s first talkie, ”Der blaue Engel’ (1930).
These films were produced at Filmstudio Babelsberg, located in Potsdam-Babelsberg, Berlin.

Silent films continued to be made throughout the 1920s, in parallel with the early years of sound films during the final years of the Weimar Republic.
Silent films had certain advantages for filmmakers, such as the ability to hire an international cast, since spoken accents were irrelevant, thus, American and British actors were easily able to collaborate with German directors and cast-members on films made in Germany (for example, the collaborations of Georg Pabst and Louise Brooks).
When sound films started being produced in Germany, some filmmakers experimented with versions in more than one language, filmed simultaneously.

‘The Threepenny Opera’ – 1931

When the popular musical ‘The Threepenny Opera’ was filmed by director Georg Pabst, he filmed the first version with a French-speaking cast (1930), then a second version with a German-speaking cast (1931).

An English version was planned but never materialized.
‘Der blaue Engel’ (The Blue Angel) (1930), directed by Josef von Sternberg with the leads played by Marlene Dietrich and Emil Jannings, was filmed simultaneously in English and German (a different supporting cast was used for each version).
Although it was based on a 1905 story written by Heinrich Mann, the film is often seen as topical in that it depicts the doomed romance between a Berlin professor and a cabaret dancer, reflecting the popular image of the city during the era.

Karl Vollmöller
Der Blaue Engel

‘Der blaue Engel’ is a 1930 film directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich and Kurt Gerron. Written by Carl Zuckmayer, Karl Vollmöller and Robert Liebmann – with uncredited contributions by von Sternberg – based on Heinrich Mann’s 1905 novel Professor Unrat (“Professor Garbage”), and set in Weimar Germany, ‘Der blaue Engel’ presents the tragic transformation of a man from a respectable professor to a cabaret clown, and his descent into madness. The film is considered to be the first major German sound film, and brought Dietrich international fame. In addition, it introduced her signature song, Friedrich Hollaender and Robert Liebmann’s ‘Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt’ (Falling in Love Again – Can’t Help It).
Karl Gustav Vollmöller, (May 7, 1878 – October 18, 1948) was a German playwright and screenwriter.
He is most famous for two works, the screenplay for the celebrated 1930 German film ‘Der Blaue Engel’ (The Blue Angel), which made a star of Marlene Dietrich, and ‘Das Mirakel’ (The Miracle), which he wrote in collaboration with Max Reinhardt.

Science Fiction in the Wiemar Republic

One fitting example of this is found in a German film that was thought lost forever.
Only recently a copy of this film, entitled ‘Wunder Der Schöpfung’ (The Miracle Of Creation), has been found.

‘Wunder Der Schöpfung’ – 1927

Wunder Der Schöpfung’ was to be, in the words of one critic, UFA’s greatest achievment.
UFA put itself more and more in the mind-frame necessary for its most ambitious project yet: Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’, that was relased in 1927, two years after ‘Wunder Der Schöpfung’. Contrary to ‘Metropolis’ that obtained only a lukewarm reception, ‘Wunder Der Schöpfung’ was a tremendous hit.
It still is a remarkable film with for that time highly ingenious and elaborate special effects.

In the context of Germany’s Kulturfilm phenomenon, ‘Wunder der Schöpfung’ was among the greatest achievements of the 1920s.
The production was constructed, rehearsed, and shot over a period of two and a half years, under the supervision of Hanns Walter Kornblum.
The idea to describe the universe and man’s place in it well suited UFA’s Grossfilm mentality, one year before ‘Metropolis’.
Hundreds of skilled craftsmen participated in the project, building props and constructing scale models drawn by 15 special effects draughtsmen, while 9 cameramen in separate units worked on the historical, documentary, fiction, animation, and science-fiction sequences.
Without star roles or even protagonists, the film’s plot is crowded with meticulously structured and skillfully acted single scenes an artful mosaic of small vignettes.
No less than four credited university professors ensured the factual background behind the scientific and historical events portrayed.
The film’s symbol of progress and the new scientific era is a spacecraft, travelling through the Milky Way, making all the planets and their inspiring worlds familiar to us, with the extravaganza of their distinctive features.
There is also a general feeling amongst connoisseurs that certain scenes might have served as a template for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001.
In the film a German scientific team travels through the universe in a spacecraft that serves as the symbol of progress and an age of new technologies, explaining all that is to be seen. ‘Wunder Der Schöpfung’ was not meant as lighthearted science fiction
Instead, the film that was meant as an educational device begun in 1923.
‘Jetzt gehort und Deutschland, morgen das ganse Sonnensystem’ (Now Germany belongs to us, tomorrow the whole solar system), as thetrilogy coyly states, is the apt slogan.
One could, perhaps, remark that, since Germany had lost most of its colonies, space formed the final formidable frontier.
One author who envisioned the path to solar conquest in the dream-tanks of the Third Reich was Walter Heichen (1876 – 1970).
His ‘Jenseits der Stratosphäre. Erlebnisse zwischen Mond und Erde. Eine Erzählung für die Jugend’ (On the Other Side of the Stratosphere. Experiences between the Moon and the Earth. A Story for the Youths) was published in 1931 and was reprinted in 1939 as ‘Luftschiff im Weltenraum’ (Airship in Space).
Heichen, who lived in Berlin, already had published propaganda lecture to kindle pattriotic interest during the outbreak of the First World War.
During the Third Reich his pattriotism adhered to the National Socialist cause.
In Heichen’s book, the protagonists travel to the planet of Sigma, where they encounter highly developed humanoids.
Heichen died in Berlin in 1970.
In 1925, a chronically ill and impoverished engineer in Vienna devoted himself entirely to space travel.

‘Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums –
der Raketen-motor’

Herman Potočnik (1892 – 1929), published in 1928 his only book, ‘Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums – der Raketen-motor’ (The Problem of Space Travel, the Rocket Motor) was published.
The Verein für Raumschiffahrt also published a magazine titled ‘Die Rakete’ (The Rocket), from 1927 till 1929,
Gernsback, born in 1884 as Gernsbacher, at ten years of age was an insatiable reader.
At that time he found a translation of Percival Lowell’s ‘Mars as the Abode of Life’.
He devoured the book and went into a delirious phase that lasted two days, during which he rambled almost non-stop about the Martians and their technology, a theme to which he would return in later years.
This experience would prove a pivotal point in the life of young Gernsbacher.

‘Die Rakete’

In 1904, then still named Gernsbacher, he went to the United States and changed his name into Gernsback. There he would come to know inventors like Tesla, de Forrest, Fessenden and Grindell-Matthews.
Gernsback would also publish an impressive list of science fiction magazines and coin the very phrase ‘science fiction’.
As such, a case is to be made for Germany as the birthplace of 20th century weird and science fiction magazine publishing.
Recent years have seen the emergence of information about a crashed UFO in the Black Forrest in 1936, which was spirited away by the SS.
There it was to be dismantled and dilligently studied by members of the Vril Society.

 ‘Algol’ – 1920 – UFA

The possibility of alien technology that has fallen into the hands of a select group, was already the subject of a film in Germany in 1920.
Just two years after the defeat of Germany in the First World War, a little known silent film was released.
Entitled ‘Algol’, it tells the story of a superior extraterrestrial from the Dogstar, who donates incredible technology that enables a wealthy industrialist to enslave the world by this free energy device.
Lost for decades, copies of the film have surfaced in recent years.
The first image is of the alien being, poised far away in the eternal blackness of the universe. The second the industrialist poised over the weird extraterrestrial technology.
One wonders how a film like ‘Algol’ helped transform the ancient intelligences, the angelic beings and the demons of old, into alien entities from far away planets. All in the strange and feverish undercurrents of the German occult.

Health and Self-improvement
Germany had many innovators in health treatment, some more questionable than others, in the decades leading up to World War I.
Nackt Turnen

As a group, they were collectively known as part of the ‘Lebensreform’, (Life Reform), movement.

During the Weimar years, some of these found support with the German public, particularly in Berlin.
Some innovations had lasting influence.
Joseph Pilates developed much of his Pilates system of physical training during the 1920s. Expressionist dance teachers such as Rudolf Laban had an important impact on Pilates’ theories.
Nacktkultur

Nacktkultur, called naturalism or modern nudism in English, became popular in northern Germany in particular as part of the Lebensreform utopian projects.

Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach pioneered the concept in Vienna in the late 1890s.

German Nacktkultur, or Freikörperkultur (free body movement), refers to a network of clubs that promoted nudism as a way of linking the modern body more closely to nature, giving it a freer presence in the great outdoors. Heinrich Pudor (Heinrich Scham, 1865–1943) supposedly coined the term Nacktkultur around 1903. His book Nacktende Mensch (1893) and the three-volume Nacktkultur (1906) established an enduring, if not accurate, link between Nacktkultur, vegetarianism, social reform, and racial hygiene (including anti-Semitism).




Nackt Speerwerfer

However, Rothschuh claims that Nacktkultur first appeared in Germany in the 1870s, along with the animal protection, vegetarian, and natural healing movements. Nudity was an important feature of Freikörperkultur well before World War I, and the idea of nudity as a healthful activity apparently owed something to the medical profession’s efforts to combat such diseases as tuberculosis with what before the war was called ‘Luft und Licht Therapie’ (air and light therapy) or ‘Heliotherapie’. As late as 1922 a Munich film-maker  Robert Reinert, released a film (‘Nerven’) that concluded with scenes of nude bodies in the mountains finally cured of neurasthenic ailments contracted in a decadent urban environment.

Resorts for naturalists were established at a rapid pace along the northern coast of Germany during the 1920s, and by 1931, Berlin itself had 40 naturalists’ societies and clubs. A variety of periodicals on the topic were also regularly published.
Aufklärungsfilme (enlightenment films) supported the idea of teaching the public about important social problems, such as alcohol and drug addiction, venereal disease, homosexuality, prostitution, and prison reform.

Associated with Nacktkultur and Lebensreform was the Wandervogel.

Wandervogel auf dem Gipfel

Wandervogel is the name adopted by a popular movement of German youth groups from 1896 onward.
The name can be translated as ‘rambling, hiking or wandering bird’ (differing in meaning from “Zugvogel” or migratory bird), and the ethos is to shake off the restrictions of society and get back to nature and freedom.
Soon the groups split and there originated ever more organisations, which still all called themselves Wandervogel, but were organisationally independent.
Nonetheless the feeling was still of being a common movement, but split into several branches.

Wandervogel Jungen
Nacktkultur – Junge

The Wandervogel movement was officially established on 4 November 1901 by Herman Hoffmann Fölkersamb, who in 1895 had formed a study circle at the boys’ Berlin-Steglitz grammar school where he was teaching.
The Wandervogel soon became the pre-eminent German youth movement.
It was a ‘back-to-nature’ youth organization emphasizing freedom, self-responsibility, and the spirit of adventure, and took a nationalistic approach, stressing Germany’s Teutonic roots.
After World War I, the leaders returned disillusioned from the war.
The same was true for leaders of ‘German Scouting’.
So both movements started to influence each other heavily in Germany.
From the Wandervogel came a stronger culture of hiking, adventure, bigger tours to farther places, romanticism and a younger leadership structure.
Scouting brought uniforms, flags, more organization, more camps and a clearer ideology. There was also an educationalist influence from Gustav Wyneken.

Hitlerjugend auf Parade
Hitlerjugend Fahnenträger

Together this led to the emergence of the Bündische Jugend.
The ‘Wandervogel’, ‘German Scouting’ and the ‘Bündische Jugend’ together are referred to as the ‘German Youth Movement’.
They had been around for more than a quarter of a century before National Socialists began to see an opportunity to take over some methods and symbols of the German Youth Movement to use it in the ‘Hitler Youth’ to influence the young.
This movement was very influential at that time.
Its members were romantic and prepared to sacrifice a lot for their ideals.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013


Many groups within the movement were ‘anti-semitic’ or close to the government of the Third Reich.
From 1933 the German Government subsumed the ‘Wandervogel’, ‘German Scouting’, the ‘Jungenschaft’, and the ‘Bündische Jugend’, along with most youth groups independent into the Hitler Youth.

Hitler-Jugend (Hitler Youth – abbreviated HJ) was a paramilitary organization of the Third reich. It existed from 1922 to 1945.
The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary National Socialist group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung (SA). It was made up of the Hitlerjugend proper, for male youth ages 14–18; the younger boys’ section Deutsches Jungvolk for ages 10–14; and the girls’ section Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM, the League of German Girls).

Berlin’s Reputation for Decadence
Prostitution rose in Berlin and elsewhere in the areas of Europe left ravaged by the World War.
This means of survival for desperate women, and sometimes men, became normalized to a degree in the 1920s.
During the war, venereal diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea spread at a rate that warranted government attention.
Soldiers at the front contracted these diseases from prostitutes, so the German army responded by granting approval to certain brothels that were inspected by their own medical doctors, and soldiers were rationed coupon books for sexual services at these establishments.
Homosexual behaviour was also documented among soldiers at the front.
Soldiers returning to Berlin at the end of the War had a different attitude towards their own sexual behaviour than they had a few years previously.
Prostitution was frowned on by respectable Berliners, but it continued to the point of becoming entrenched in the city’s underground economy and culture.
First women with no other means of support turned to the trade, then youths of both genders.
A byproduct of the tolerance for prostitution appears to have been a more visible tolerance for diverse sexual behaviour, mainly with the growth of a large underground homosexual culture in the city among both men and women.
Sexual experimentation became less hidden, and the pornography, cabaret and prostitution entrepreneurs found their consumer niche.
Crime in general developed in parallel with prostitution in the city, beginning as petty thefts and other crimes linked to the need to survive in the war’s aftermath.
Berlin eventually acquired a reputation as a hub of drug dealing (cocaine, heroin, tranquilizers) and the black market.
The police identified 62 organized criminal gangs in Berlin, called Ringvereine.
The German public also became fascinated with reports of homicides, especially “lust murders” or Lustmord.
Publishers met this demand with inexpensive criminal novels called Krimi, which like the film noir of the era (such as the classic M), explored methods of scientific detection and psychosexual analysis.
Apart from the new tolerance for behaviour that was technically still illegal, and viewed by a large part of society as immoral, there were other developments in Berlin culture that shocked many visitors to the city.
Thrill-seekers came to the city in search of adventure, and booksellers sold many editions of guide books to Berlin’s erotic night entertainment venues.
There were an estimated 500 such establishments, that included a large number of homosexual venues for men and for lesbians; sometimes transvestites of one or both genders were admitted, otherwise there were at least 5 known establishments that were exclusively for a transvestite clientele.
There were also several nudist venues, and many other well-known venues where underground figures such as crime bosses gathered.
Berlin also had a museum of sexuality during the Weimar period, at Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexology.
These were nearly all closed when the National Socialist regime came to power in 1933.
Artists in Berlin became fused with the city’s underground culture as the borders between cabaret and legitimate theatre blurred.
Anita Berber, a dancer and actress, became notorious throughout the city and beyond for her erotic performances (as well as her cocaine addiction and erratic behaviour).
She was painted by Otto Dix, and socialized in the same circles as Klaus Mann.
Cinema in Weimar culture did not shy away from controversial topics, but dealt with them explicitly.
‘Diary of a Lost Girl’ (1929) directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst and starring Louise Brooks, deals with a young woman who is thrown out of her home after having an illegitimate child, and is then forced to become a prostitute to survive.
This trend of dealing frankly with provocative material in cinema began immediately after the end of the War.
In 1919, Richard Oswald directed and released two films, that met with press controversy and action from police vice investigators and government censors.
‘Prostitution’ dealt with women forced into “white slavery”, while ‘Different from the Others’ dealt with a homosexual man’s conflict between his sexuality and social expectations.
By the end of the decade, similar material met with little, if any opposition when it was released in Berlin theatres.
William Dieterle’s ‘Sex in Chains’ (1928), and Pabst’s ‘Pandora’s Box’ (1929) deal with homosexuality among men and women, respectively, and were not censored. Homosexuality was also present more tangentially in other films from the period.
In the light of such activities it is not difficult to see why the NSDAP received so much support in Germany towards the end of the 1920s.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013