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Yannick R.

Ballmann

0666341

Cinema in Hitlers Germany


Paper # 3
Nazi Film Propaganda

I
In this paper, I will take a closer look at the way the movies Hitlerjunge Quex,
Triumph of the Will and Jud Suess propagate Nazi ideals and demote adverse groups.
In general, all movies have one thing in common: they are very well produced. The
setting in which propaganda is embedded is very pleasing to the eye. This is the
aspect that makes those movies dangerous. Particularly Hitlerjunge Quex pushes
emotional buttons of the audience and the subliminality of the actual message is
elusive at first. Triumph of the Will and Jud Suess are more deliberate and obvious.
In General, we have to view each movie as a different angle on promotion of Nazi
ideals: Hitlerjunge Quex obviously promotes the Hitlerjugend, but beyond that sets
moral and behavioral standards of a good Nazi, regardless of the age. Triumph of
the Will celebrates the party and especially Hitler himself, attempting to create a
nearly religious mystique around the Fuehrer and the very core of the party. Jud
Suess is part of the anti-semitism campaign, a feat that had been on the public Nazi
agenda after the years of securing power. It openly states and exemplifies why Jews
cannot be trusted and have to be despised. The harshness of the movie stems from

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the dichotomy of the insistence on a more active anti-semitism from the party and
the rather passive anti-semitism prevailing among the general population.

II

In Quex and Triumpf, we encounter a highly idealized view of the German people. As
you had stated in the assignment sheet, we get the sense that Germans are reborn as
German National Socialists. Both movies depict the Germans as thoroughly good
people in themselves. We do not really get the sense that there is anything negative
about a National Socialist at all. All the more they are portrayed as truthful and
idealistic, organized and full of energy and zest to get things done. There is none of
the brooding and introspective quality we have been seeing in Weimar movies.
Activity seems to be one central aspect: Germans in both movies seem to always
work on something, rally people, prepare camps, go swimming etc. There is no
stagnation and laziness.
Of course, being Nazi propaganda, the movies heavily promote the picture of the
young Aryan man: blond, blue-eyed, strong and most of all healthy. Women are
crafty and ready to do their part to ensure the eternal Third Reich. In general, we
can say that all people portrayed in the movies look conducive to their role in the
Nazi society: the youth is vibrant and healthy, the older generation stern and cleancut we even have a fat cook! (Triumph of the Will)

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Their behavior is in line with their looks: both active and disciplined, each person
portrayed is fulfilling their role in the society with eagerness and great joy. We get a
huge sense of willingness to sacrifice for the community and the final vision that
constitutes the Third Reich as imagined by its leaders. Everything is organized and
planned out but carried out with joyful exuberance.
As to social class, both movies suggest and portray differences in class but under the
umbrella of National Socialism, all those classes come together as one. In Quex, the
emphasis is more on the actual social classes outside of the Nazi-party coming
together whereas in Triumph, we see the different divisions within the Nazi party. In
both movies, on the first glance, they are portrayed as equal and equally worthy. As
history shows, especially talking about the divisions within the party (looking at the
rise and ruling of the SS within the state for instance) were of course hirarchised
and meticulously ordered amongst each other.

Their attitude towards country and Fuehrer is the most interesting aspect. As for
Quex, the emphasis is on the connection each youth has to the Fuehrer upon
speaking their vows. [] swear allegiance to the Fuehrer which will bind you to
him for all time [Nazism Youth and Education 302, 87] shows the definite quality
of the relationship of each member of the Reich with the Fuehrer. Reading the vow
[Nazism 303, 88] it becomes obvious that there is definitely a religious dimension to
the perception and dedication of and to the Fuehrer. The country is the end goal, the
Fuehrer is the subject, the catalyst of all emotion and energy that seems to channel
all those energies and direct them as needed to ensure the eternal Third Reich. In

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the vows, there is an allusion that devotion goes beyond death which is a quality
most often found in more ancient war cultures.
Triumph offers a more comprehensive and grown-up picture of the Fuehrer and
country cult. As stated before, Hitler really is a catalyst that stands for the people in
service for the country and the Germanic race. In Triumph, we dont see him as the
overbearing, crazy person he (was)/became. More so, he is a charismatic figure that
almost jokingly and joyfully presents himself before his followers. On the other
hand, we can observe him carefully constructing his character as a pseudo-messiah:
in his speeches he does not state anything clearly in relation to mission and goals.
What he does though, in each appearance, is extend his hand and invite the different
groups to bind themselves to him. In this case, despite the general euphoria about
him, he is the part that extends the invitation, not the people he is talking to. He
makes sure that after each appearance, absolute devotion and questionless
following is ensured by the subjects/groups he encountered. Unfortunately, this
worked out very well and a whole nation followed him into madness and
destruction without question (I am talking about devotees). On p 98 of the packet,
438 is a prayer/vow to the excellence of Hitler. This was part of the mechanism that
eventually transformed the odd Adolf into the mystical leader Adolf Hitler. The fact
that the vow is derived from the prayer Vater Unser just proves the point that the
regime was consciously making Hitler a pseudo-messiah.
Hence the reactions from the public: wherever he appears, there are waves of
euphoria and exuberance directed toward him. The country was the end-in-itself,
Hitler the means to this magical future.

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III
In Quex and Jud Suess, we see enemy groups portrayed: Communists and Jews.
Both groups are depicted as radically different from Germans each in their own
way. The communists in Quex are obviously poled opposite from the German ideal:
dirty, drinking, unorganized and frivolous they launder about and create chaos and
confusion amongst themselves and in the community they reside in. That is also
shown in their appearance: dirty and disheveled as opposed to the uniformed unity
and organized presentation of Nazi youth. In case of the communists, they are
definitely presented as deluded Germans rather than an evil in itself. They are
somewhat dangerous but eventually it is clear that they present no eminent threat
to the Nazi-ways considering one of the final scenes where Quexs father starts to
consider nationalist thought in a bar over a beer with his friend as valid and hence is
presented as a fellow German strayed from the right path now ready to leave
communism behind and happily join the Nazi-family.
Suess in Jud Suess is portrayed differently. He in fact presents a real danger. There is
no question that what he is and what he represents is in any way connected to
German heritage. One big part of the anti-Semitic propaganda is the representation
of Jews as foreigners, almost as a virus that has come from afar to infect the system:
homeless wanderers as opposed to the home and country loving Germans. Jud Suess
banks on stereotypical representations of Jews as immoral, materialistic, cunning
and physically unattractive. Suess is presented as the typical Jewish grasping
moneylender that is only there to act out his inherent hostility to non-Jews. With a

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crooked nose, a dirty beard and a whining voice, his physical representation is
stereotypical as well. The fact that he is a rapist really gives the impression of a Jew
being more than just capitalistic: this fact adds a very sinister dimension to the
representation of Jews that implies that there is inherent evil within all Jews as a
race, something that is not reconcilable and definitely not wanted to be included
under the big Nazi umbrella. It is something one has to get rid of. This message is
clearly stated in Jud Suess.
In the packet, p 115; 410 we read an exerpt of the Stuermer, a magazine that
presented the most extreme end of the spectrum concerning anti-semitism. Reading
it now just makes me angry. Here are the same stereotypes, especially physical ones,
as in the movie, used in a paragraph devoted to explaining how to recognize a Jew:
A Jew is usually recognized by his nose. The Jewish nose is crooked at the end.
[Antisemitism, 410, 115]
His Face is the face of a devil. [Antisemitism, 410, 116] is a shocking example of
how mystification of Jews was used to dehumanize them as a race altogether. A Jew
was not human, it was something terrifying that had no place among humans was
the message of this piece of text.

IV
To conclude, I just want to state that despite the ugly content of the movies
examined, it is obvious that the propaganda worked. The three movies each cover a
different niche, but the mechanism that is used to propagate Nazi idealism and
ideology is almost identical in each of the movies. What frightens me is the

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effectiveness of this system and the fact that such atrocities like Jud Suess were even
shot.