'Hitler's reign of terror' : Film warning of dangers of Nazi Germany made by US railroad heir found after 75 years

Daily Mail, 21 September 2013

The first U.S. film to warn about the dangers of Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime has been found in a Brussels film archive, having lain unnoticed for some 75 years.
'Hitler's Reign of Terror' was produced by Cornelius Vanderbilt, an heir to the wealthy American industrialist family, who visited Germany as Hitler was voted into power in 1933.

The film revolves around footage that Vanderbilt shot and smuggled out, showing Nazi party rallies, book-burnings and the ransacking of Jewish shops.

Cinematic treasure

At its premiere in New York in 1934, the film was a big success, said Bruno Mestdagh, head of the digital collections at the Belgian film archive Cinematheque.

'The German embassy in the United States protested, so the film was censored and adapted. It was then shown in other cities but with much less success,' Mestdagh said.

The version uncovered by the archive was most likely ordered by someone who wanted to show it in Belgium but never collected it, so the reel survived the war, and Nazi occupation, in the Belgian customs office.

In the 1970s, it was transferred to the archive, which holds some 70,000 titles in its vast vaults in Brussels, 80 per cent of them foreign. But it was only two years ago that the curators realized they had the only surviving copy.
The film has now been remastered and will be shown at New York's Museum of Modern Art in October.

The film is arranged much like a newsreel, where Vanderbilt provides a voice-over to his own original footage, and mixes it with newsreel footage from other sources.

'Vanderbilt was able to capture some spectacular footage but he just had a few minutes and they constructed a complete film around it. But that wasn't done by professional film-makers, so the film has a sometimes amateurish feel to it,' Mestdagh said.

Part of that feel comes from the somewhat clunky re-enactments of a brief interview that Vanderbilt snatched with Hitler as he prepared to address a rally in Berlin's Sports Palace after winning the 1933 election.

'In the hour-and-a-half that Hitler talked to that packed audience, he was as effective as a barker at a side show, traveling with a circus,' Vanderbilt comments in the voice-over.

He also visits Leonding, the Austrian town where Hitler attended primary school, explaining: 'From all I could gather, he was one of the most unpopular kids in the neighborhood. Nobody had a good word for him.'


The comments below have not been moderated.

why are we being bombarded with atrocities from 75 years ago that we couldnt give a toss about?.

And look at the mess we're in now. We'd have been far better off had the Germans won, no doubt about it.

UKIP paradise.

He could make a similar film about UKIP today.

ukip voters take note of what a little man can do

WW2 ended 68 years ago. DM give it a rest.

"And look at the mess we're in now. We'd have been far better off had the Germans won, no doubt about it. - Dave England, England, United Kingdom, " = A vile, stupid and crass comment.

Lenin, Stalin, and Mao were worse. Where are their films? No survivors? No compensation!

Versions of this film have been available for years. There is no actual German footage - the scenes are poorly done "reenactments" that are very obviously not in Germany (mis-spelling and grammar mistakes on signs, etc.). The whole thing is narrated by Vanderbilt who is "interviewed" about his experiences - by a sycophant. With his high pitched voice and upper crust accent, he obviously lies straight to the camera on more than one occasion making the entire piece less than credible.

The Yanks were fully awake but didn't want to get involved in a war that many American isolationists saw in the same way then that many idiots now have towards not wanting to get involved in the Syrian conflict. In fact the US government were secretly helping Britain a lot before they were bombed into it.

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