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Führer's Birthdays: Personality Cult In The Third Reich.

1498 words - 6 pages

At my request, my university library recently ordered thirteen films from your company for use in my upcoming course on the history of the Third Reich. Mostly, I am satisfied that they will be helpful in conveying to undergraduates the complexities of the history of Nazi Germany. The particular value of the films is that they allow us to analyze the propaganda techniques used by Hitler's regime to deceive German and international audiences about his true ideas and intentions. However, one of the films turns out to be a disgraceful 1990s effort to whitewash Hitler's regime and perpetuate his propaganda lies. I would like to suggest that you reconsider whether this film should be your catalog at all.The film in question is The Führer's Birthdays: Personality Cult in the Third Reich (product #785), a piece of deceitful propaganda that masquerades as a documentary film. Let me explain why, as a professional historian, I find it far more objectionable than any Nazi film from the 1930s. With a "real" Nazi movie, the spectator is forewarned that the film reflects the Hitler regime's point of view, and knows to watch it critically. That is not the case here, though the viewer might be suspicious when the credits do not indicate who actually made the movie; we are merely told the names of the translator, narrator, and executive producer of the English version, which seems to suggest that the film was originally made in some other country and language--but by whom? There certainly is no indication that knowledgeable historians were associated with making it, while the actual authors of the film preferred to remain anonymous, for good reason as we shall see.When I first began watching the film, I was perplexed by what seemed like an incoherent narrative structure and puzzling factual errors. The movie begins by comparing Hitler's rise to that of Napoleon--an interesting though very problematic thesis, but one that it quickly drops and to which it never returns. It then moves on to Germany's fragile democracy of the 1920s, which Hitler helped to destroy. In explaining the reasons why this democracy failed to take hold, the film gives vastly exaggerated weight to Germany's humiliation by the Allies in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. It also dwells at length on the (actually quite feeble) Communist attempts to overthrow the democratic government; to make those Communist attempts seem more impressive than they really were, the film describes Germany's huge, center-left Social Democratic Party--a staunch supporter of liberal democracy--as a force for pro-Soviet extremism, which is about as grotesque as if one declared the center-right Republican Party in the US to be a neo-Nazi organization. The fact that Hitler was the key to German democracy's destruction is never mentioned, and the violent coup that created his dictatorship in 1933 is merely described as Hitler "coming to sole power." Thus, the impression is created that Hitler "came to sole power" to...

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