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The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact with Hitlerby Ben Urwand
Synopses & Reviews
To continue doing business in Germany after Hitler's ascent to power, Hollywood studios agreed not to make films that attacked the Nazis or condemned Germany's persecution of Jews. Ben Urwand reveals this bargain for the first time--a "collaboration" (Zusammenarbeit) that drew in a cast of characters ranging from notorious German political leaders such as Goebbels to Hollywood icons such as Louis B. Mayer.
At the center of Urwand's story is Hitler himself, who was obsessed with movies and recognized their power to shape public opinion. In December 1930, his Party rioted against the Berlin screening of All Quiet on the Western Front, which led to a chain of unfortunate events and decisions. Fearful of losing access to the German market, all of the Hollywood studios started making concessions to the German government, and when Hitler came to power in January 1933, the studios--many of which were headed by Jews--began dealing with his representatives directly.
Urwand shows that the arrangement remained in place through the 1930s, as Hollywood studios met regularly with the German consul in Los Angeles and changed or canceled movies according to his wishes. Paramount and Fox invested profits made from the German market in German newsreels, while MGM financed the production of German armaments. Painstakingly marshaling previously unexamined archival evidence, The Collaboration raises the curtain on a hidden episode in Hollywood--and American--history.
"Urwand keeps the jaw-dropping revelations coming in this damning indictment of the complicity of the major Hollywood studios — and their mostly Jewish heads — in the Nazis' campaign to exterminate Europe's Jews. Initially, profit was the main motivation behind the decisions to give the famously media-savvy German government veto power over scenes and lines it deemed inappropriate, incendiary, or — in the words of a law passed in Germany in 1932 that threatened to completely bar companies that distributed anti-German movies anywhere from further trade in the Fatherland — 'detrimental to German prestige.' (The first film to suffer the self-serving edits of the Nazi censors was 1930's All Quiet on the Western Front.) Even as news of the Third Reich's extreme anti-Semitism reached the States, Hollywood studios continued with business as usual. That money-driven momentum soon translated into active efforts to thwart the production of an anti-Hitler film, The Mad Dog of Europe (written by Herman Mankiewicz, the man who would go on to write Citizen Kane), which had the potential to get information about the German dictator out to a broad audience. Urwand deserves immense credit for this groundbreaking — and truly unique — take on the WWII era. 25 photos." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
To continue doing business in Germany, Hollywood studios agreed not to make films attacking Nazis or condemning persecution of Jews. Ben Urwand reveals this collaboration and the cast of characters it drew in, ranging from Goebbels to Louis B. Mayer. At the center was Hitler himself--obsessed with movies and their power to shape public opinion.
About the Author
Ben Urwand is a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University.
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