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A Home Movie Featuring Adolf Hitler (SLYT)
August 12, 2010 5:14 AM   Subscribe

A family traveled to France and Germany in 1938 and shot this footage which features two appearances by Adolf Hitler. It's creepy seeing this Nazi spectacle shot by an amateur. It's a perspective I don't know if I've ever seen. The video opens in France and the Nazi footage starts around 1:45.

The collector writes: "The Basement Collection presents: An 8mm film bought at an estate sale back in the 90's. This reel is part of a series of a family vacation movies to Europe in 1938. On this reel the family visits France and then Germany. The footage of Hitler is from a celebration in the Berlin Stadium on what I think is a May Day celebration (May 2, 1938) then another celebration at Berlin's Lustgarten. (on May 1st). (I think the reel was edited together out of order)."
posted by zzazazz (95 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
"I filmed this for two reasons. The first is to entertain people because, come on, it's Hitler. The second is to keep kids off drugs."
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 5:27 AM on August 12, 2010 [20 favorites]


Oppressive use of flags and banners ... hmmm, what does that remind me of ?
posted by lobstah at 5:29 AM on August 12, 2010


You know who else was in a family vacation movie?


wait, I messed that up.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:30 AM on August 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


Hitler? I hate that guy!
posted by Greg Nog at 5:34 AM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Those boys from the Chive had better quit while they're ahead.
posted by PlusDistance at 5:34 AM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


I love how the "Vacation in Germany, Visit Martinez Family" is somehow suggested on the sidebar.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:36 AM on August 12, 2010


At this point nothing that could be posted about Hitler would faze anyone on mefi.

Now, Lady Gaga or will.i.am or Anis Shivani ..... that's another story.
posted by blucevalo at 5:42 AM on August 12, 2010


"Gross Deutschland" indeed.

Ah, but Paris. Paris. Essentially unchanged since 1938. Wish could say the same about New York City. I mean, it never really got any better than the Chrysler Building, y'know?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:43 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know, say what you want about Hitler, but he knew how to put on a heck of a show.

Although I would have liked to have seen a Downfall type tantrum as Hitler realises he's booked too small a stadium and can't get the crowd to spell out "Niedergeschwindigkeitswindkanalversuchsergebnis."
posted by MuffinMan at 5:44 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


An 8mm film bought at an estate sale back in the 90's

I love how footage like this is always found in someone's basement in a cardboard box. I'm thinking that maybe we should all collectively go to our grandparent's house and go through their shit. Probably a treasure trove of history and crap.
posted by Fizz at 5:49 AM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm thinking that maybe we should all collectively go to our grandparent's house and go through their shit. Probably a treasure trove of history and crap.

History is found in objects. Discard the people.
posted by DU at 5:51 AM on August 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Watching people cheer for Hitler is always weird to me. All these smiling faces. The flags, the good cheer. So weird and unsettling.
posted by Fizz at 5:54 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


There was a brief shot of Goering too.

Yeah, it's likely a May Day celebration. You see a Maypole in some of the frames. That would put this about a month after the Anschluss and there are placards in the crowd reading "GrossDeutschland" - Greater Germany.
posted by three blind mice at 5:54 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Cool ! I love Nazi movies! Wait... what?
posted by ob at 5:56 AM on August 12, 2010


Wow. And no one ever stopped and said, "Wait - we might be the baddies".
posted by yhbc at 5:58 AM on August 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


Wow. And no one ever stopped and said, "Wait - we might be the baddies".

Go into any bar in America and start chanting "USA! USA! USA!" Do this for more than a minute and see what happens.
posted by Fizz at 6:01 AM on August 12, 2010 [13 favorites]


It's easy to get caught up in a mass and chant and join along. It's no excuse, but it's easy to fall into.
posted by Fizz at 6:02 AM on August 12, 2010


Wow. And no one ever stopped and said, "Wait - we might be the baddies".

What? Of course they did. It's just they were at home wringing their hands and posting to geistfilter instead of at the parade.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 6:02 AM on August 12, 2010 [25 favorites]


And no one ever stopped and said, "Wait - we might be the baddies".

Just like the US!

/ducks
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:02 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


they did, yhbc, they did....
posted by MessageInABottle at 6:03 AM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


No State Department warnings back then, I guess.
posted by punkfloyd at 6:07 AM on August 12, 2010


The normalcy of it all is what gets me. Today, Hitler is always portrayed as extremely out of the ordinary, but watching this I can totally see it happening again.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:09 AM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Today, Hitler is always portrayed as extremely out of the ordinary, but watching this I can totally see it happening again.

It's interesting that you should say this. I find that people often attempt to normalize him. He was just a man, kind of weird, had some messed up thoughts and did a lot of evil shit.
posted by Fizz at 6:11 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interestingly enough, those May Day celebrations were one of the few times that Hitler actually reversed himself in response to popular criticism. Originally he had called them off due to May Day's connections to bolshevism, but after publc outcry he backtracked and allowed them to go on so long as they focused on the traditional German portions of the celebrations. - The More You Know
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:11 AM on August 12, 2010


WOW. This is undoubtedly the most disturbing, chilling thing I've seen in a long time. That sea of salutes... the smiling faces... the pageantry.

I agree with MuffinMan, those Nazis sure could put on a show. They had the most awesome cars, the scariest uniforms, the most oppressively orchestrated public spaces, and the most enthusiastic crowds.

Extreme nationalism is terrifying, and I can definitely hear it in those chants, Fizz. 'Cause when we stop thinking as individuals and start thinking as a mob, it's all over.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:11 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Wow. And no one ever stopped and said, "Wait - we might be the baddies"."

Of course it was never big enough to gain any traction, many of its members ended in the concentration camps early on in the regime, but there was a german resistance.
posted by ts;dr at 6:15 AM on August 12, 2010


My wife and I were visiting Munich in May 2001 and saw a "modern" May Day parade. By American standards, it was still a little frightening.
posted by punkfloyd at 6:16 AM on August 12, 2010


My thinking is that whomever filmed this was fairly 'important' as the photographer is quite close to Hitler as he is standing on the podium during the initial shots.
Who are the other two cronies shaking hands? The one on the left does not look like a German uniform to me.
posted by circa68 at 6:16 AM on August 12, 2010


Color film was available for amateur home movies in 1938? Dang.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 6:19 AM on August 12, 2010


MuffinMan: You know, say what you want about Hitler, but he knew how to put on a heck of a show.

Weird, what struck me about the video was how shoddy the whole thing was, the lettering on Grossdeutschland, the misaligned banners (most obvious at 4:40, but also elsewhere), the shoddy raised pressbox. A few big ideas, little attention to detail. Which is what one should expect, really, from a group of people whose biggest idea was "start a land war in Asia."
posted by Kattullus at 6:24 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Color film was available for amateur home movies in 1938? Dang.
Kodachrome was available in both 16mm and 8mm movie stock as early as 1935.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:27 AM on August 12, 2010


He appears to have footage of a contrail - aren't those only produced by jet engines (the first of which flew in 1939)?
posted by zeoslap at 6:30 AM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


I haven't watched these, but in the films is he phasing in and out of reality, with an aura of black smoke struck through with hellish sparks, and does he turn to the camera and his eyes are just cataracts and then his mouth opens and takes up half the screen and coming from inside his mouth you hear the screaming of thousands of tormented souls?
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:30 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


No State Department warnings back then, I guess.

In 1933, the US State Department warned American Jews not to travel to Germany because of the reports of mistreatment.

In 1935, President Roosevelt issued a declaration warning US Citizens against traveling to Italy and Ethiopia and from traveling on ships of these nations. The same year military advisors were sent to consulates across Europe to help with planning in expectation of a large number of refugees seeking assistance.

In 1937, the President advised US Citizens to leave (actually "flee" was the term used) China. Travel to Spain was (briefly) prohibited.

In 1938, the US State Department warned citizens against ANY travel to or in Europe and naval ships were dispatched to pick up those who wished to depart. By September, the government was assisting citizens who wanted to depart the UK as well as the mainland. The warning was reitereated in 1939, though after the break out of open hostilities they seemed rather superfluous

Conclusion: this was a family of Nazis who knew full well what they were doing by traveling to a Hitler rally in 1938.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:36 AM on August 12, 2010 [22 favorites]


Or maybe Grizwolds.
posted by condour75 at 6:45 AM on August 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Or maybe Grizwolds.

Heh.
posted by punkfloyd at 6:48 AM on August 12, 2010


flapjax at midnite wrote: ""Gross Deutschland" indeed."

Damn you. Damn you to hell. You stole my line.
posted by wierdo at 6:53 AM on August 12, 2010


Today, Hitler is always portrayed as extremely out of the ordinary, but watching this I can totally see it happening again.

It's interesting that you should say this. I find that people often attempt to normalize him. He was just a man, kind of weird, had some messed up thoughts and did a lot of evil shit.


No dude, you're not taking the sentiment as it is intended:
This was not an evil we shouldn't STILL worry about...it could happen again.

People are really serious about "never again", and what better way than staying vigilant.

Also, anyone who isn't mentally ill or a sociopath knows he was a bad man.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:53 AM on August 12, 2010


He appears to have footage of a contrail - aren't those only produced by jet engines (the first of which flew in 1939)?

Nope, contrails can be produced by propeller planes as well - it's condensation from water in a plane's exhaust. They're more likely to be produced the higher altitudes a plane goes, and Germans had better high-altitude engines than anybody up through the first half of the war. So contrails were still pretty rare, and probably if you lived in most of America, you'd never have seen them before.

Conclusion: this was a family of Nazis who knew full well what they were doing by traveling to a Hitler rally in 1938.
Or people who have blatant disregard for the State Dept or have family in Europe and though "oh, i can just stay with Cousin Hans through this little unpleasantness." Or it could be that the 1938 advisory was not issued until after this footage was shot, and this family did wind up coming home on a naval transport.
posted by Jon_Evil at 6:56 AM on August 12, 2010


hal_c_on Let me state that I can state with no reservations that Hitler was an awful human. What I meant by my commentary is that I've often heard people talk about how "normal" this evil man was. And that this is even more of a reason to stay vigilint about political ideology that he espoused. That's all I meant by that comment.
posted by Fizz at 7:04 AM on August 12, 2010


Wow, used "state" twice in the same sentence. #englishfail
posted by Fizz at 7:04 AM on August 12, 2010


My thinking is that whomever filmed this was fairly 'important' as the photographer is quite close to Hitler as he is standing on the podium during the initial shots.

Conclusion: this was a family of Nazis who knew full well what they were doing by traveling to a Hitler rally in 1938.


These are probably correct assumptions. I'm the one that digitized this film and the other ones that were in the same box as this one, but are not included in this Youtube clip. In the other films, this person/family were in Italy, watching a military parade that was led by Mussolini and touring a military base. The other scenes in Germany took place in a naval base as well as other places. The thing about the other scenes that struck me is that they were always with a uniformed military person. Of course, there's no way of knowing who that person is, but obviously he was not there to impede this American's progress around Europe as they were allowed to film military bases around Europe. Yeah, these people were connected.
posted by NoMich at 7:06 AM on August 12, 2010 [66 favorites]


This was not an evil we shouldn't STILL worry about...it could happen again.

People tell me it is happening every four years.
posted by pashdown at 7:08 AM on August 12, 2010


Or it could be that the 1938 advisory was not issued until after this footage was shot, and this family did wind up coming home on a naval transport.

Yeah, I find it hughly likely that a family would be so completely oblivious to years of warnings, newspaper articles, the take-over of Austria and Czechoslovakia, the Nuremburg laws, Kristalnacht, and then they just happened to have stumbled into choice seats at a huge Party rally, despite the fact that these were very staged and controlled and the guest lists were hand picked by Goebbles and his crew.

What an amazing coincdence! I wonder why they had to hide those films in the basement for 60 years? You'd think they'd have shown them off to all their friends, "Man, look how lucky we were that we managed to get out of there before things got really bad!"
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:12 AM on August 12, 2010


Is there a reason it's so fast? I can practically hear Yakety Sax with this.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:17 AM on August 12, 2010


Shit, there's a fleet of aircraft inside that stadium at 2:50.
posted by punkfloyd at 7:18 AM on August 12, 2010


Jesus, did anyone see the size of the chemtrails?! I just KNEW Hitler was in on that.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:19 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoops! My dates are way off there! Strike kristallnacht and Czechoslovakia off that list, but I still contend that anyone who didn't see Hitler as Hitler by May, 1938 was either a dolt or a fellow traveller.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:20 AM on August 12, 2010


I can practically hear Yakety Sax with this.

Yakety Sax. Ever appropriate.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:20 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


They had the most awesome cars…
I got the opposite impression. The French cars seemed so streamlined, more like something out of the 1940s compared to the clunky-looking German cars in the street scene near the end of the video. But apparently there was car design trend in France in the 1930s that focused on streamlining and teardrop shapes. This website has a description of this trend and some nice examples.
…and the most enthusiastic crowds.
This was what I found most chilling about the video. Those hands didn’t just rise in salute, they flew up, and in a way that left no doubt how passionate the audience was about what they were participating in.
posted by Killick at 7:22 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there a reason it's so fast? I can practically hear Yakety Sax with this.

So wrong.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:23 AM on August 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


hal_c_on Let me state that I can state with no reservations that Hitler was an awful human.

Hitler was a vegetarian, a tee-totaler, he did not smoke, he was frugal in his personal life and completely uncorrupted by money. All admirable qualities in a politician.

In 5 years (1933-1938) Hitler repudiated the Treaty of Versailles, remilitarized the Rhineland, brought Austria into the Reich, and through a program of Keynesian stimulus, re-vitalized the German economy. Hyperinflation was brought under control and the unemployment rate went from 30% to more or less nothing.

So one can understand why he was so popular in this footage.

It's easy to say he was a "bad man" and that's it, but the story is much more complicated than that.

Certainly it can happen again. I watched in horror as decent people I know lined up behind George Bush (a far less capable man than Hitler) and cheered on the invasion of a country on the same flimsy premises Hitler used to invade Poland in 1939. One cannot blame Bush alone for the invasion of Iraq anymore than one can blame Hitler alone for the horrors of WW2.

Let me state I am not defending Herr Hitler in any way, but to say he himself was the "axis of evil" is to believe a narrative that does not square with a fair understanding of history.

But as Napoleon remarked, "History is written by the victors".
posted by three blind mice at 7:27 AM on August 12, 2010 [50 favorites]


So wrong.

And yet, so RIGHT.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:29 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


FYI, you can link to specific times in YouTube videos. Here's the start of NAZI MADNESS!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5XM3gqiMGo#t=1m45s
posted by blue_beetle at 7:35 AM on August 12, 2010


Hitler was a vegetarian, a tee-totaler, he did not smoke, he was frugal in his personal life and completely uncorrupted by money. All admirable qualities in a politician.

You left off that he was a Beltway Weimar outsider!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:37 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


But as Napoleon remarked, "History is written by the victors".

I'm pretty sure Napoleon didn't speak much english. BURN!
posted by blue_beetle at 7:44 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I watched in horror as decent people I know lined up behind George Bush (a far less capable man than Hitler) and cheered on the invasion of a country on the same flimsy premises Hitler used to invade Poland in 1939.

Far less "capable," why? Because he didn't stay in office long enough to implement the total security state that he and his advisers and cronies wanted? Because he didn't invade the entire Mideast?

If you define "capable" as leaving a legacy that will take generations to reverse, assuming that ever occurs, he was plenty capable.
posted by blucevalo at 7:45 AM on August 12, 2010


"Hitler was a vegetarian."

This is not true. Hitler briefly followed a vegetarian diet that was prescribed to him for treatment of a digestive disorder. It was one of many diet regimens that he tried and discarded after finding them useless. Unfortunately, Hitler was doing the vegetarian thing during a period in the late 1930s when his advisors suggested that he invite some of the world's leading journalists for lunch and "table talk" to show he wasn't such a bad guy. These journalists trooped through his dining room over the period of a few months, and reported back that Hitler was a vegetarian, and ever since ... But there are also numerous reports from the same period of Hitler eating ham and sausage.

In any case, Hitler's flirtation with vegetarianism was entirely self-interested. It was not from love of animals. (Not that self-interest is a bad motive. Even if you hated animals and enjoyed seeing them tortured and killed, you should still be interested in the health-promoting and life-prolonging effects of a vegetarian diet.)
posted by Faze at 7:54 AM on August 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


Far less "capable," why?

Far less capable as an orator and far less capable as a leader.

I'm pretty sure Napoleon didn't speak much english. BURN!

Sorry. My mistake. That quote was attributed to Churchill.

Napoleon's remark was: "L'histoire est une suite de mensonges sur lesquels on est d'accord."

Loosely translated as "History is a continuation of lies on which there is agreement."

Napoleon said it better.
posted by three blind mice at 7:55 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


The banality of evil.
posted by stet at 8:00 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


"List of things I just must capture with my expensive, rare color camera using my expensive, rare color film on my expensive, rare European vacation:
1. Flags
2. Hitler"

posted by rongorongo at 8:03 AM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Conclusion: this was a family of Nazis who knew full well what they were doing by traveling to a Hitler rally in 1938.

Well, yeah. Two Hitler rallies in one vacation would hardly be a mistake. No wonder this was hidden away in the basement.
posted by zerbinetta at 8:09 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Two Hitler rallies in one vacation would hardly be a mistake.

I don't wanna holiday in the sun
I wanna go to the new Belsen
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:14 AM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


In 5 years (1933-1938) Hitler repudiated the Treaty of Versailles, remilitarized the Rhineland, brought Austria into the Reich, and through a program of Keynesian stimulus, re-vitalized the German economy. Hyperinflation was brought under control and the unemployment rate went from 30% to more or less nothing.

Hitler didn't really revitalize the German economy, nor was he the one who stopped hyperinflation. There are details in Tooze (which I have at home), but Hitler was also pretty much responsible for the destruction of the German economy and basically had to start a war in 1939 or face the economic ruin of Germany. (And it turned out that even conquering a bunch of countries didn't really help Germany's economy that much.)
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:14 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can practically hear Yakety Sax with this.

Not Yakety Sax. The Lambeth Walk.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:19 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Far less capable as an orator and far less capable as a leader.

Well, again, less capable to whom? People who hated him from day one?

If you define success as how well he orated, he captured the imaginations of millions. If you define success as how well he led, he led well enough to satisfy his base and defeat John Kerry in 2004 and get four more years to implement his agenda. He didn't quite get the full totalitarian state structure that he wanted. But he was well on his way. And that structure has continued almost intact since he left office, and has indeed only grown. That sounds pretty capable to me.

I think he was plenty capable, if capable means that he achieved what he set out to achieve when he first announced his run in 1999. He left behind a state, legal, and bureaucratic apparatus that will be almost impossible to dismantle. That sounds pretty capable to me.
posted by blucevalo at 8:33 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Color film was available for amateur home movies in 1938? Dang.

It was very expensive. Setting aside some GBP/USD conversion issues, one estimate puts a roll of color 8mm Kodachrome in 1938 at over $100USD in modern terms. Processing was included in the purchase price. And from the look of the footage, this wasn't just one roll; this was multiple rolls spliced together to produce the finished product. The camera and projector were over $200 in '38, which would be $3000+ today. It would be pretty a lot of coin just to film a regular 'ol family vacation. Whoever was filming was (a) pretty well-off, and (b) knew that they were going to be filming some important stuff.

One of the things that has virtually been swept under the rug in the U.S. was how pro-German (and, in some cases, pro-Hitler) certain parts of the population were. It's not really that hard to understand; a fair number of Germans emigrated to the U.S. for economic reasons (or had grandparents who did), but maintained ties and still felt patriotic about their 'home country'. Particularly if you were watching from a 3500 mile remove, his domestic policies might have looked pretty good, in terms of putting the country and the economy back on track. By the late 30s the stance starts to seem a whole lot less defensible, particularly since there was a steady stream of refugees coming to the U.S. to get away from persecution in Germany, but people have always been good at ignoring things that don't fit their worldview.

My grandparents — who lived in a mostly-German neighborhood in the midwest in the late 30s and early 40s — talked about neighbors who were ardently (like "they would not shut up") pro-Hitler and anti-war. Given that my grandmother was British, I can only imagine that must have been pretty awkward.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:34 AM on August 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


Even if you hated animals and enjoyed seeing them tortured and killed, you should still be interested in the health-promoting and life-prolonging effects of a vegetarian diet.

What if I just really really really hate plants? Is that a good reason to go vegetarian?

Two Hitler rallies in one vacation would hardly be a mistake.

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is National Socialists' European Vacation.
posted by kmz at 8:48 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Conclusion: this was a family of Nazis who knew full well what they were doing by traveling to a Hitler rally in 1938.


One of the hands going up in the standard Nazi salute is the cameraperson's, so yeah.
posted by yesster at 8:54 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


If they were, however unlikely, merely on a European vacation if there was a Nazi rally in the nearby stadium would there be anything else to do in town that day?

"What's going on today in town?"

"Oh, just a massive Nazi Party rally!"

"Anything else going on?"

"No."


posted by zzazazz at 9:15 AM on August 12, 2010


Is there a reason it's so fast? I can practically hear Yakety Sax with this.

The camera probably shot at 16 or 18 frames per second. The projector or transfer device is probably running at 24 frames per second. So those 16 frames are going through faster than a second - therefore the speed of the clips as we see them now is either 150% or 133% faster than normal. If you ran the film through a projector going 16 or 18 fps, it would look like normal speed (but you might notice a slight flicker).
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:27 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


NoMich: I'm the one that digitized this film and the other ones that were in the same box as this one, but are not included in this Youtube clip. In the other films, this person/family were in Italy, watching a military parade that was led by Mussolini and touring a military base. The other scenes in Germany took place in a naval base as well as other places. The thing about the other scenes that struck me is that they were always with a uniformed military person. Of course, there's no way of knowing who that person is, but obviously he was not there to impede this American's progress around Europe as they were allowed to film military bases around Europe. Yeah, these people were connected.

This estate sale was in Illinois, wasn't it?

I hate Illinois Nazis.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:43 AM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


zzazazz: If they were, however unlikely, merely on a European vacation if there was a Nazi rally in the nearby stadium would there be anything else to do in town that day?

Also: if they were time travelers. You can't go to 1938 and miss the Hitler!
posted by paisley henosis at 9:46 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


This estate sale was in Illinois, wasn't it?

No, these films were purchased in a yard sale in Chapel Hill, NC. Nobody had a clue as to what was on them at the time of purchase. Apparently the guys that bought them sat on them for a while and one drunken night decided to finally watch them. Talk about a surprise.
Skip, the AV Geek, got a hold of them and we digitized them and handed the films back. I still don't know what they are going to do with the actual films. I know they want to do something "important" with them. Maybe the Smithsonian?
Along with the Zapruder film, these films show the importance of home movies for our culture. Even the home movies that don't have real historic importance to them are still culturally important to us as they show a slice of life as it was then. Also, how everything looked then: the architecture, the fashions, etc.
posted by NoMich at 10:08 AM on August 12, 2010 [13 favorites]


Oh, and the film used is Anscochrome, made by Ansco. I'd say it held up rather well for the past 70-some years.
posted by NoMich at 10:23 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


My grandparents — who lived in a mostly-German neighborhood in the midwest in the late 30s and early 40s — talked about neighbors who were ardently (like "they would not shut up") pro-Hitler and anti-war.

My mother, whose parents were the first generation Americans of German families also in the Midwest, had neighbors in the 1930s who *moved back* to Germany when Hitler came to power! She maintained that this family wasn't very well liked in the neighborhood even before this...
posted by kuppajava at 10:38 AM on August 12, 2010


Three times is National Socialists' European Vacation

I hear in the sequel they go to a holiday camp!

[Silence, disapproving stares. Shuffles out of room redfaced]
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:44 AM on August 12, 2010


It feels weird to be watching a Youtube video and just be waaaiting for Hitler. C'mon, when's the Hitler part?!
posted by redsparkler at 10:45 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


The normalcy of it all is what gets me. Today, Hitler is always portrayed as extremely out of the ordinary, but watching this I can totally see it happening again.

Just combine the charisma or star power of Obama or Clinton with piano wire.

Being an event planner for Nazi events must be even more hellaciously stressful than being an event planner under normal conditions
posted by KokuRyu at 10:50 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I haven't watched these, but in the films is he phasing in and out of reality, with an aura of black smoke struck through with hellish sparks, and does he turn to the camera and his eyes are just cataracts and then his mouth opens and takes up half the screen and coming from inside his mouth you hear the screaming of thousands of tormented souls?

Well, that and the hand shadows. "Schattentiere? Schauen Sie, ich kann das Kaninchen tun!*"

*Translation courtesy of Babelfish; all errors due to Yahoo!.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:31 AM on August 12, 2010


Of course, there's no way of knowing who that person is, but obviously he was not there to impede this American's progress around Europe as they were allowed to film military bases around Europe. Yeah, these people were connected.

Erm....

Mind you, I could well believe it was someone without any sympathies for the regime. I mean, if you were an American official on a mission to, say, North Korea, would you refrain from taking pictures of a rally on moral grounds?
posted by IndigoJones at 12:41 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


My wife and I were visiting Munich in May 2001 and saw a "modern" May Day parade. By American standards, it was still a little frightening.

Yeah, if it was anything like my experience in Berlin, which I usually describe to people as 'recreational riots'.
posted by mannequito at 12:47 PM on August 12, 2010


Hitler didn't really revitalize the German economy, nor was he the one who stopped hyperinflation.

What matters more is whether the German people who let him come to power believed he would solve their problems, not whether he actually did.

I think the big lesson we didn't learn from The Holocaust is to stop just being reactive. For instance, how did we deal with the fact that there was obvious a HUGE amount of anger and desperation stewing in the Middle East? By waiting until someone flew a plane into the Twin Towers and THEN reacting.

I suspect that when most people say, "We'll never let it happen again, they mean that just around the time someone starts ushering people into cattle cars, we'll step in -- if the cattle cars receive big media attention or if stepping in is generally aligned with out interests."

It's pretty clear to me that what it will take for the world to get really serious about global warming is some major disaster actually happening. We'll start solving it when Manhattan sinks into the sea or whatever. We seem to seen an "Oh, shit!" moment in order to take action. I work very hard to avoid the cynical attitude that in order to make improvements, first many people have to die or suffer, but watching history unfold, it's very hard for me to keep that cynicism at bay.

I don't think this has an easy solution. It's not like we can easily just say, "Oh, there's trouble brewing between India and Pakistan. Well, since that might eventually cause a global problem, let's step in and stop it now, before it gets too bad. All these situations are really delicate. I don't know the solution, but that doesn't change the fact that letting crap brew for years is a dangerous way to "never let it happen again." Given that human nature is human nature, what are we doing TODAY, when there are no world wars going on, to make sure this never happens again -- other than "being vigilant" (which means ... what?)

Hitler was a truly sick, evil man, and his personality alone was a major cause of World War II, but it was far from the only cause. And he was the cause that was basically out of our control. We can't stop sociopaths from existing. But he gets much more attention than they state the allies left Germany in after World War I -- a state that basically invited people to sit back and wait for a messianic figure.
posted by grumblebee at 1:53 PM on August 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


Of course, there's no way of knowing who that person is, but obviously he was not there to impede this American's progress around Europe as they were allowed to film military bases around Europe. Yeah, these people were connected.

Other than the fact that the film turned up in NC, is there any evidence that the filmist was indeed American? Are the rest of the reels going to be uploaded? Do we get to see the auteur?
posted by IndigoJones at 2:52 PM on August 12, 2010


yhbc: Wow. And no one ever stopped and said, "Wait - we might be the baddies".

MessageInABottle: they did, yhbc, they did ....

Exactly what I thought of when I read that comment.
Here's another version of that clip, without the lip-sync issues:
Mitchell and Web
posted by memebake at 3:10 PM on August 12, 2010


"Wow. And no one ever stopped and said, "Wait - we might be the baddies"."

Plenty of people did. Numerous German Catholic bishops were very outspoken about Hitler, until Pius signed the concordat with Hitler and shut the bishops up. Trade unionists, socialists, lots of domestic opposition.

The thing is... well.

Consider the Night of the Long Knives, where Hitler had a huge number of his most fervent supporters murdered because they were expected to opposed the deals Hitler had made with the business elites of Germany to gain support from the more moderate right.

The Jews weren't first against the wall in Nazi Germany. The first job was to murder or imprrison everyone the Nazis had old scores to settle, everyone who might oppose Hitler, even purge their own ranks. By the time serious anti-Jew measures were started the Nazis had murdered a huge number of non-Jewish Germans already. No-one was safe: Papen was arrested, his friends and assistants were murdered. The leader of Catholic Action, a decorated war hero, was murdered. The pervious chancellor, murdered. Those involved in stopping the Putch in '23? Hacked to death with pickaxes.

There was a lesson for all Germans there. The comparisons with Bush upthread... yeah, if Bush Jr had Bill Clinton and his old Texas political opponents murdered they might look a little more valid.

One of the things that has virtually been swept under the rug in the U.S. was how pro-German (and, in some cases, pro-Hitler) certain parts of the population were. It's not really that hard to understand; a fair number of Germans emigrated to the U.S. for economic reasons (or had grandparents who did), but maintained ties and still felt patriotic about their 'home country'.

Enthusiasm for Hitler was hardly confined to German ex-pats. Ford, Father Coughlin, you name it. Plenty of the upper classes, in particular, of the English speaking world were enthusiastic about Hitler. The loved his hatred of unions, were suspicious of Jews (which is why the US turned away so many Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany), and craved "strong government". The Catholic Church had allied itself with Facists across Europe.
posted by rodgerd at 4:04 PM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is very cool. I'm bothered by how clueless the rest of the world was to Hitler's intentions. What else could

G R O S S D E U T S C H L A N D

imply?

And why didn't they use an Eszett?
posted by spamguy at 5:22 PM on August 12, 2010


For another look at life in Nazi Germany, Hans Fallada's Every Man Dies Alone has been called the greatest book ever written about resistance to Hitler.
posted by HLD at 8:38 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


There is no traditional capital eszett — just like there's no capital for ff or st or whatever.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:05 PM on August 12, 2010


I watched in horror as decent people I know lined up behind George Bush (a far less capable man than Hitler) and cheered on the invasion of a country on the same flimsy premises Hitler used to invade Poland in 1939

Bush was right, we did forget Poland.
posted by furtive at 7:04 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm bothered by how clueless the rest of the world was to Hitler's intentions.

Hindsight and all that. And what do you mean by "the world"?

More to the point, though, what would you have done, as a non-German citizen, as a politician? About a country far away when you had some serious problems at home? Call for war (and mean it)? Remember, we're talking about a generation of people who had fresh memories of WWI and really didn't want to go through that again.

And why single out Hitler? Plenty of other baddies at the time, after all. Should you not be similarly bothered by the interwar year intentions of Japan and the Soviet Union?
posted by IndigoJones at 8:05 AM on August 13, 2010


More to the point, though, what would you have done, as a non-German citizen, as a politician? About a country far away when you had some serious problems at home? Call for war (and mean it)? Remember, we're talking about a generation of people who had fresh memories of WWI and really didn't want to go through that again.

And, in fact, the lefty governments of France in the late 1930s were prepared to go to war with Hitler, but not standing alone - there were attempts to negotiate a millitary response to Hitler's early provocations and even the occupation of Austria. But there was no interest amongst France's allies, so nothing was done.

Likewise, prior to the Nazi-Soviet pact, Stalin had made overtures to Britain about an anti-Nazi front, but anti-red paranoia was sufficient to stop anything happening on that front. Can't deal with the commies, you know. Well, not until all Western and Central Europe has been conquered, anyway. What's a few million lives?
posted by rodgerd at 12:06 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can't deal with the commies, you know.

And quite right, too. One could hardly claim that the Soviets were a benign force at home and abroad, even in those misty eyed times, even compared to the National Socialists.

(My understanding was that the French were hoping more for containment than invasion. Thus the 1935 bilateral with the Soviet Union in 1935 - which back fired anyway since Hitler used it as an cause to re-militarize the Rhineland. I'd be interested in footnotes that point to a more robust desire, in any event. Not one of my strong suits.)
posted by IndigoJones at 8:43 AM on August 14, 2010


So I did kind of promise I'd get back to this, so ... from Tooze:

There is a deeply entrenched prejudice both in popular historical consciousness and the historical literature that the really important change in economic policy between the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich was the urgent implementation, after 1933, of programmes of national recovery and work creation ... Work creation in fact emerged as a subject for intense discussion on the right wing of German politics only in the second half of 1931. The Nazi party did not adopt work creation as a key part of its programme until the late spring of 1932, and it retained that status for only eighteen months, until December 1933, when civilian work creation spending was formally removed from the priority list of Hitler's government. Despite the claims of Geobbel's propaganda and despite the preoccupations of later commentator and historians, civilian work creation measures were clearly not a core agenda item for the nationalist coalition that seized power in January 1933. In fact, amongst the coalition partners of January 1933, work creation was highly divisive. Credit-financed measures were fiercely opposed by Hugenberg, the leader of the DNVP, Hitler's indispensable coalition partner. Work creation was also viewed with suspicion by business and banking circles close to the Nazi party, who on this issue had a vocal spokesman in Hjalmar Schacht. All of which was in sharp contrast to the three issues that truly united the nationalist right and made possible the Hitler government of 30 January 1933: the triple priority of rearmament, repudiating Germany's foreign debts and saving German agriculture. These were the issues that had dominated the right wing agenda since the 1920s. After 1933 they took priority, if necessary at the expense of work creation. It was Hitler's action on these three issues not work creation that truly marked the dividing line between the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich ... Despite the propoganda fanfare that accompanied the renewed Battle For Work in 1934, it in fact made little if any contribution to the ongoing reduction in unemployment ... Tooze argues that signs of a cyclical recovery were appearing by 1932, before Hitler took power, and that while there was certainly a recovery by 1935, it was by no means superior to that which occurred in the United States under a very different policy.

With regards to: "Wow. And no one ever stopped and said, "Wait - we might be the baddies"." realize that the Nazi Party only received 37.2 percent of the vote in the July 1932 election, and in the November 1932 election got only 33 percent. Despite 'massive intimidation', the Nazi party failed to receive anywhere close to a majority of the popular vote of the 5 March election, but, of course, after applying massive pressure to the Catholic Centre Party, Hitler rammed through the Enabling Law of 23 March 1933, which let his government rule by decree.
posted by Comrade_robot at 4:22 PM on August 16, 2010


A prominent North Carolina politician of the era, Senator Robert Rice Reynolds, U. S. Senator from 1933 to 1945:

[following early adherence to FDR's New Deal policies]

"...After handily winning reelection in 1938 and gaining a seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Reynolds--now less dependent on a president who had thwarted his patronage preferences--publicly split with FDR on foreign policy. Challenging Roosevelt’s claim that Adolph Hitler threatened American security, Reynolds compared the Fuehrer’s conquests to earlier American and British territorial expansion. Accusing the president of leading the nation into war, he denounced the “destroyer deal” and was the only southern senator to vote against the Lend-Lease Act (1941) and most of FDR’s aid-to-Britain measures. At the request of Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, Reynolds, now chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee, introduced and held hearings on the extension of the Burke-Wadsworth Act--the nation’s first peacetime draft. He unsurprisingly voted against it.

A genuine believer in democracy, Reynolds’s controversial remarks were neverthless perceived by many as pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic. Even his legislation banning Nazi and Communist parties failed to rehabilitate his reputation, for his anti-immigrant proposals coincided with Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. Although an admirer of isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh and his America First Committee, Reynolds avoided affiliating with the nation’s leading noninterventionist organization because of its unpopularity in North Carolina. The senator even discouraged the organization from polling Tar Heels concerning a war declaration against Germany, for he feared it might reveal pro-war sentiment.

His professional associations undoubtedly prompted perceptive criticisms of an underlying anti-Semitism. In January 1939, Reynolds formed the Vindicators Association, an ultra-nationalist, isolationist, nativist, anti-Semitic, and anti-communist organization which published American Vindicator to spread his opinions. Reynolds’s association with American Nazis, fascists, and anti-Semitic demagogues, including Gerald L. K. Smith and Fr. Charles E. Coughlin, revived accusations that he was pro-Nazi. But Nazi agents and propagandists, such as George Sylvester Viereck, had genuinely deceived Reynolds and other isolationist senators, when they inserted anti-British and anti-Semitic press releases into the Congressional Record and disseminated them via his franking privileges. Also, Fritz Kuhn, leader of the pro-Nazi German-American Bund, and Asheville’s leading fascist, William Dudley Pelley, and his Silver Shirts, endorsed many of Reynold’s pronouncements regarding the war; copies of American Vindicator were even sold at Bund rallies.

Most North Carolinians held views that embraced aid-short-of-war as Britain’s situation became more desperate. A bastion of pro-military sentiment, North Carolina sent 361,000 of its citizens into the armed services and more soldiers were trained at its numerous military bases than in any other state. No doubt as a result, the state benefited enormously from defense spending. North Carolina businesses and farmers were awarded a fifth of all government defense contracts.

Reynolds initially blamed London, not Tokyo, for the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. However, much like his fellow isolationist senators, he later voted for war against the Axis powers. After Pearl Harbor, Reynolds dissolved the Vindicators Association and renamed his nativist newspaper, which advocated national unity, the purchase of war bonds, a ban on strikes, the registration of labor unions, the relocation and internment of Japanese-Americans, and the renewal of Lend-Lease."

At the very least, Senator Reynolds' record would indicate that approving interest in Nazi Germany was not a fringe position at the time. I wonder if these reels might not have been shot on a junket or some such; it would certainly explain both the brushing aside of travel advisories and the prominence accorded the film-maker.
posted by mwhybark at 10:05 PM on August 24, 2010


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