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20.Hurwitz, "One Man's Journey... p. 14. 2 1 . Myles Horton, Confidential Memorandum for the Staff, Highlander Folk School, in the Highlander Folk School Collection, Tennessee State Library and Archives. Nashville, Tennessee. SWASTIKA: A REVIEW *Swastika (110 min., part color), distributed by RBC Films. By Keith Eubank Professor Eubank is Chairman ofthe History Department at Queens College CUNY. He has published several books on European diplomatic History and the origins ofthe Second World War. Documentary films about Nazi Germany often consist ofclips of newsreel footage showing screaming crowds, parading soldiers, and Adolf Hitler speaking to his followers at the Nurenberg party rallies. These views of life in Germany under Hitler are too one-dimensional: there was more to Nazi Germany than crowds, troops, and speeches. Swastika*is a feature film which avoids the pitfalls associated with the stereotyped documentary about Hitler and Nazism. It is a narrative of the Nazi era, minus a narrator; it is a portrait of a man and his times, of his cronies and his mistress, and of the country which he rules and which he eventually destroyed. The director, Phillippe Mora, and his staff did not follow the usual routine in creating a picture about the Hitler period: splicing newsreel clips together, editing them, and adding a commentary that denounces the sins of the Nazis. Instead, they searched the archives of the United States and Europe for rushes, outtakes, newsreels, documentaries, propaganda films, and home movies. After assembling the results of their searches, they edited them, and after a sound track was added the finished product was a brilliant feature film about the Nazi era. It is multi-dimensional in its view of the period; it is not limited to the sights and sounds that have come to be associated with documentaries on Hitler and the movement, which he created and led. Swastika is not, however, a film intended as a total denunciation of Nazi Germany. Rather it is a film with a story: the Nazi regime, which for many Germans was the happiest time of their lives. It was exciting because Germany had emerged from the horrors of the Depression. Factories were busy, the German youths were no longer idle, and most important of all, Germany had a strong leader. Scenes from the years 1933-1939 make up the substance of Swastika. Families sing carols around a Christmas tree surmounted by a lighted swastika, a solemn Hitler commemorates the Munich Bell Hall Putsch, Emma and Hermann Goering have the baby christened, and members of the Nazi hierarchy relax at the Berghof, Hitler's home near Berchtesgaden. There are scenes of the reverse side ofNazism: bored Hitler Youth mouthing Nazi songs, a smirking Joseph Goebbels passing out Christmas presents, Hitler opening an art museum filled with dreadful paintings, and finally, a British soldier using a bulldozer to bury the corpses at Belsen. Highlighting Swastika are the excerpts from the home movies of Eva Braun, which are in color, and which give a more intimate picture of Hitler. These films, found by United States troops at the 44 Berghof after the war ended, make Swastika an extraordinary film from the first moment when Hitler steps out onto the terrace at the Berghof, shielding his eyes from the sun light. Thanks to Eva, Hitler and his cronies are seen relaxing, making small talk,joking, playing with children, sunning, and walking through the woods. At the Berghof, Hitler, dressed in a double breasted suit and occasionally wearing a velvet fedora, resembles an Austrian businessman on a vacation in the mountains. Hitler appears more as a human being and less of a monster as he pats his dogs, plays tea party with children , and kisses the ladies' hands. These excerpts from Eva Braun's home movies have a vitality, which sets Swastika apart from the other films about the Nazi era. Instead of a Hitler shouting speeches and reviewing parades of the SS and the SA, here is a Hitler who wanders about the terrace at the Berghof like the petty bourgeois Austrian that he was. These sequences underline the horror that was Nazism because, while the uppercrust Nazis enjoyed the good life, hundreds of thousands of German...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9922
Print ISSN
0360-3695
Pages
pp. 44-46
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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