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This article is in many locations: http://www.google.com/#q=1932+Fox+films+Hitler
Webster G. Tarpley
October 2, 2010
Observers of the current US election season have noted the prominent
role of Rupert Murdoch’s reactionary Fox News Channel, which currently
employs GOP and “Tea Party” partisans Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, Mike
Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Sean Hannity, and others. Some
have alleged that a television network carrying so many potential
political candidates and propagandists on its payroll is unprecedented.
But there is a precedent for large-scale Fox intervention into a
|In 1932, the German newsreel subsidiary of Fox News Channel’s corporate ancestor, Fox Films, supported Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
In 1932, the German newsreel subsidiary of Fox News Channel’s
corporate ancestor, Fox Films, intervened in national elections in
The candidate Fox supported was Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
The basic facts are available in German historian Hans Mommsen’s authoritative study entitled The Rise and Fall of Weimar Democracy,
which is translated into English and widely available in over five
hundred libraries in this country. Mommsen, one of the most
distinguished postwar German historians, is now Professor Emeritus of
History at the University of Bochum. In Mommsen’s account of Nazi
propaganda techniques, we find the following: “There was nothing that
escaped the ingenuity of Nazi propagandists. A case in point was the
use of film. Under Goebbels’ influence the party had begun to exploit
the potential of the political propaganda film to an unprecedented
extent as early as 1930. Such films were shown mostly in places where
Hitler and other prominent party leaders were not able to appear as
speakers. For the manufacture of outdoor sound film, the NSDAP turned to an American company, Twentieth Century Fox.“1
Scholar William G. Chrystal confirms this account and provides
further important details in his 1975 article on “Nazi Party Election
Films, 1927-1938.” Chrystal writes: “Support for two additional 1932 election films, Der Führer (The Leader), and Hitlers Kampf um Deutschland (Hitler’s Struggle for Germany)
came from the German-based subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox, Fox
Tönende Wochenschau (Fox Weekly Sound Newsreel [i.e., Fox Movietone
News]). In addition, they also supplied some mobile sound film vans to
be used during the campaign. Thus at least part of Hitler’s support in
that critical time was the result of Fox’s help. The
background for this assistance is unknown since Fox Tönende
Wochenschau records were destroyed during the war,” according to a
July 9, 1974 letter to Chrystal from Joseph Bellfort, who was at that
time the vice president of the Twentieth Century Fox International
Fox Helped Hitler’s Voice to Reach Many Germans for the First Time
Of the first of these two films, Chrystal writes: “…Der Führer (The Leader) was one of two sound films subsidized by Fox Tönende Wochenschau. Released on April 13, 1932, it was originally titled Volk und Führer (Nation and Leader).
It was a relatively short film, 263 meters long, but it provided many
people with their first opportunity to hear Hitler speak. These films
were accompanied by an apparently popular tide which enabled their
wider dissemination. In his diary on March 6, 1932, [Nazi propaganda
boss Joseph] Goebbels noted: ‘We now also win the movie theater for
This film lasts about five minutes. In it Hitler, speaking in Berlin
on April 4, 1932, develops his characteristic theme that the German
army was betrayed and stabbed in the back in November 1918 by the
Weimar politicians, especially the Social Democrats. This speech was
part of Hitler’s campaign for president, in which he was defeated on
April 10, 1932 by von Hindenburg but nevertheless received almost 37%
of the votes, which represented a new high in Nazi support up to that
time. In the subsequent parliamentary election held on July 31, 1932,
the Nazis added 19% to their previous totals to emerge for the first
time as the largest single party in Germany with 38% of the votes —
thanks in part to the assistance rendered to Hitler by Fox Movietone
Concerning the second film Fox made for Hitler, Chrystal writes:
“…new Reichstag elections were called for November 6, 1932…. The second
of the Fox-subsidized productions, Hitlers Kampf um Deutschland (Hitler’s Struggle for Germany),
appeared on August 30. It comprised 606 meters of Hitler’s July,
1932 Eberswalde speech. An indication of the effectiveness of this
speech and its film record can be found in its later use. When
Reichstag elections were held again in March 1933, this same film was
re-issued under a new title, Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler Spricht (Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler Speaks).”4
Hitler’s speech in the Brandenburg Stadium in Eberswalde on July 27,
1932, one of three he gave that day, is a classic demagogic
performance. As Mommsen points out, “in the hectic 1932 election
campaign” the Nazis organized mass rallies featuring “speeches that
Hitler tailored specifically to the psychotic public mood that had
been created by the deepening crisis.” (Mommsen, p. 338) “We are
intolerant,” raved Hitler, promising to drive more than thirty other
political parties out of Germany. “We have one goal before us, to
fanatically and ruthlessly shove all these parties into the grave,” he
added. This was the message which Fox Movietone News helped deliver
to the German public. Six months after he gave this speech, Hitler
seized power as chancellor and began consolidating his power as
dictator — once again thanks in part to the help of Fox Movietone
Note that Chrystal speaks of Fox has having “subsidized” Hitler’s
critical 1932 election campaigns. This can be considered as the 1930s
equivalent of illicit contributions in kind to a politician under
current US election law, which is the charge often made against Fox News
today, as for example in a recent filing by the Democratic Governors’
Association in regard to the Kasich gubernatorial campaign in Ohio.
Fox Movietone News and the Rise of European Fascism
Robert Edwin Herzstein, in his article entitled “Movietone News and
the Rise of Fascism in Europe, 1930-1935,” explored the partial archive
of Fox Movietone News for these years now at the Thomas Cooper
Library at the University of South Carolina.5
It is clear from this article that the regular weekly Fox Movietone
newsreels also played into the hands of the Nazi and fascist media
strategy. Proud of this record, “Fox called its newsreel operations ‘the
mightiest of them all.’” (Herzstein, p. 314)
In the Fox Movietone newsreels and outtakes of Nazi rallies, says
Herzstein, “one senses the enthusiasm, the communion between leader and
masses…. Hitler is often seen standing in the presence of his friend
and foreign press chief Ernst Hanfstaengl, apparently oblivious to the
prying movie camera…. Hitler, in part a media creation, was better
equipped to manipulate the masses by putting them on the movie screen.
He made them part of the media action, and the outtakes show us how
that was done.” (Herzstein, p. 317) Hitler’s rivals and adversaries,
including his predecessor as chancellor, von Papen, the Austrian leader
Dollfuss, and the Social Democrat Dittman all appear in the Fox
footage in a negative or unflattering light by comparison.
One big fan of Fox Movietone News was the Italian fascist dictator
Benito Mussolini, who was given the opportunity to make one of his
famous bravura speeches for the Fox camera. According to Herzstein, one
of the first sound newsreels shown in the United States depicted
Mussolini in March 1929 speaking in English directly to the American
people, saying: “Your talking newsreel has tremendous possibilities.
Let me speak through it in twenty cities in Italy once a week and I need
no other power.” (Herzstein, p. 318) In the mind of the Duce,
newsfilm was thus already the handmaiden of fascist power.
Herzstein’s extensive survey of the Fox Movietone archive for
1930-1935 apparently yielded no examples of any criticism or
unfavorable coverage of the fascist dictators, since none is mentioned
in his article.6
The last Fox Movietone newsreels appeared in the United States in
1963. According to the Wikipedia article on Movietone News, parts of
the Fox Movietone newsreel collection are still “owned and managed by
the Fox Film Corporation’s corporate successor (and namesake), Fox News
Channel. The majority of the collection is stored in New Jersey,
mostly unseen since the newsreels were originally shown in theatres.
During its early years, Fox News Channel had a weekend show which
played the newsreels.”7
As the philosopher George Santayana rightly observed in 1905, “when
experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
1 Hans Mommsen, The Rise and Fall of Weimar Democracy,
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996, p. 339.
emphasis added. Fox Film Corporation merged with Twentieth Century
Pictures to form Twentieth Century Fox in May, 1935.
2 William G. Chrystal, “Nazi Party Election Films, 1927-1938,” in Cinema Journal
XV:1, Autumn 1975, p. 32, published by the University Texas Press for
the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, emphasis added. See also
Hans Barkhausen, “Kurzübersicht: Filme der NSDAP, 1927-1945,” and “Die
NSDAP als Filmproduzentin,” in Günter Moltmann and Karl Friedrich
Reimers, Zeitgeschichte im Film- und Tondokument: 17 historische, pädagogische, und sozialwissenschaftliche Beiträge, edited by Günter Moltmann and Karl Friedrich Reimers (Göttingen: Musterschmidt-Verlag, 1970).
3 Chrystal, p. 33.
4 Chrystal, p. 35.
Robert Edwin Herzstein, “Movietone News and the Rise of Fascism in
Europe, 1930-1935: A Guide for the Researcher, Teacher, and Student,” The History Teacher XXI:3 (May 1988), pp. 313-320, published by: Society for History Education.
6 For part of Mussolini’s remarks, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTXhez2mNmM
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