Effects Of Popaganda Films On Wwii The effects of film on WWII propaganda Without the advent of the medium of film to wage a war of propaganda both the Axis and the Allies of World War II would have found it difficult to gather as much support for their causes as they did. Guns, tanks, and bombs were the principal weapons of World War II, but there were other, more subtle, forms of warfare as well. Words, posters, and films waged a constant battle for the hearts and minds of the masses of the world just as surely as military weapons engaged the enemy. Persuading the public became a wartime industry, almost as important as the manufacturing of bullets and planes. Both sides launched an aggressive propaganda campaign to galvanize public support, and some of these nation’s foremost intellectuals, artists, and filmmakers became warriors on that front. Propaganda in the broadest sense is the technique of influencing human action by the manipulation of representations.
These representations may take the spoken, written, pictorial, or musical form. Since the cinema uses all four of these types of representations, a filmmaker would seem to wield a lot of power as a propagandist. If he so chooses to use his power to its fullest potential. The essential distinction lies in the intentions of the propagandist to persuade an audience to adopt the attitude or action he or she espouses. This is ever so prevalent as Hitler gained support from his nation to exterminate the Jewish people from Germany and Europe alike. He adopted such support by using his Nazi propaganda films as a weapon of mass distraction and manipulation of the people of Germany.
If he had not idealized the German soldier as a hero, and bestowed nationalism in his people, and blamed the economic problems of German on the Jewish race then he never would have been able to accomplish what he had in such a short amount of time. The most famous Nazi propaganda film is Der ewige Jude (“The Eternal Jew”). “Der Ewige Jude” was engineered by Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda. It was created to legitimize the exclusion, and the ultimately the destruction, of an entire people. It depicts the Jews of Poland as corrupt, filthy, lazy, ugly, and perverse: they are an alien people which have taken over the world through their control of banking and commerce, yet which still live like animals.
The narrator tries to depict the Jew’s behavior as rat like, while showing footage of rats squirming from sewers and leaping at the camera. Using the montage editing technique so as the juxtaposition of the shots would imply to the viewer to connect the rats with the Jewish people. A very simple and effective technique that is still used today. The film’s most shocking scene is the slaughter of a cow, shown in bloody detail, by a grinning Rabbi- and it is followed by, of all things, three innocent (presumably German) lambs nuzzling each other. Which is yet another example of the editing techniques that Pudoukin discussed.
Hitler also provides the emotional climax of the film, with footage of his speech to the Reichstag from 1939. When preceded by sixty minutes describing the Jewish problem, and followed by thunderous applause, Hitler’s prophetic warning takes on even greater significance: “If the international finance-Jewry inside and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations into a world war yet again, then the outcome will not be the victory of Jewry, but rather the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!”(Adolph Hitler). The importance of this groundbreaking propaganda is often underestimated. Someone might characterize the film as a X-ray of the decision making process that led to the Holocaust. It can also be argued that the film is seen as the official promulgation of Hitler’s decision, and that it – together with the feature film Jud Sub- deliberately was used to prepare both perpetrators and bystanders for the extermination of the Jews. The producer Joseph Goebbels knew all to well how to create a film that would not only grasp the publics attention but also a film that would transform them into a flock of sheep, upon which he could lead them into what ever belief he wanted.
The masses of German people would stand behind Hitler no matter what happened. Why wouldn’t they? German propaganda films depicted Adolph Hitler as a kind, family man. Everyone has seen the pictures of Hitler walking around with little Aryan children. Across the lawn of a house, or through a field, while the German shepherd walks around and protects the child. Such a very noble and chivalric ideology. When actually the fact was he was starving, slaughtering, and with out mercy murdering 6 million Jewish men, women, and children.
None of the films that the Ministry of Propaganda ever made depicted any of that. Why? If they had, no one would have joined a cause for something like that, and they knew that if they were to commence with the plains of the Genocide they would have to have the people and its army behind them 100%. Through their propaganda they did, and what a achievement just that is. To change the beliefs of a nation. Prior to all of this Hitler had to start the movement towards this propaganda war waged on the silver screen. In 1934, 413 English per 1000 went to the movies each week, 343 per 1000 Americans, and 160 per 1000 French.
In Germany, only 86 of 1000 went to the movies, a far cry from the turn out that the English and Americans had. Now leaving out the fact that at this time the German nation was in a intense depression far worse then that which was felt in the United States, and without a doubt most of its cinema’s were most likely out of business due in large part to this. The German people didn’t have the money to waste on going to the movies. He had either fix the economic problems or make the cinema come to the people. Leaving aside the cultural and historic differences between Germany and these other nations, it is clear that increasing German film attendance is among the most important tasks of German film policy, and that doing so would increase the effectiveness of film in propaganda and popular enlightenment. Hitler recognized films effectiveness early.
Not only does it influence popular opinion but films relative great costs “pay off”: film stock, equipment, studios, the large technical and artistic staffs, ect., all cost a lot of money, but the result, the finished film, may bring in tens of thousands whose admission fees not only cover the costs, but result in a good profit. Hitler’s answer to the lack of attendance was to establish the extremely powerful Ministry of Propaganda, and to nationalize the film making process. In this propaganda war Germany and its allies seemed to initially have a distinct advantage. Because their governments controlled all media, they could largely seal off their peoples from Western propaganda. And only show its people what they wanted them to see.
Germany’s people could see nor hear no evil. At the same time, the highly centralized government could plan elaborate propaganda campaigns and mobilize resources to carry out their plans. My making the renting fees low on some of their extra projectors it gave incentive for the come business man to have his own showings because he could make a little profit by doing so. This was a definite win win situation for Hitler. They could also count on aid from Nazi parties and sympathizers in other countries. Democratic states, on the other hand, could neither prevent their peoples from being exposed to Nazi propaganda nor mobilize all their resources to counter it.