- Film in Nazi Germany
- The German film industry made approximately 1,100 films between 1933 and 1944. Most of the films were made for the purpose of entertaining the German public, but 96 of these were made under the supervision of Joseph Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry. Few of the propaganda films, however, were anti-Semitic. Nevertheless, the few films that did cast Jews in a dehumanized manner were popular and prepared the public for what later occurred in the death camps. Perhaps the most important antiSemitic film was Jew Suss, which was the most popular feature of the 1939–1940 season. The story, which the Nazis insisted was based on fact, depicted the manipulation of Joseph Suss Oppenheimer, the court Jew to the Duke of Wurttemberg in Stuttgart. He is depicted as a swindler, manipulator, and rapist and is executed in the film’s climax. The film’s projection of anti-Semitism was so powerful that before 1945, it was shown to Schutzstaffel (SS) Einsatzgruppen before they carried out their missions against the Jews in the east. Fritz Hippler’s film documentary The Eternal Jew (1940) depicted Jews as Germany’s greatest enemy. In one memorable scene, he equates large numbers of rats emerging from sewers with Jews. The film’s narrator informs the audience that “they bring ruin, by destroying mankind’s goods and foodstuffs. They spread disease and plague. . . . They are cunning, cowardly, and cruel.” Other incendiary antiSemitic films made by the Nazis include Linen from Ireland (1939), which depicted Jewish profiteers, and The Rothschilds (1940), which accused the Jewish bankers of bringing about an international stock market crisis that results in a great profit for their banking house.
Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. Jack R. Fischel. 2014.