s 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 intelletc uals, 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 connetc
the rats with the Jewish people. A very
simple and effetc
ive 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...