— texts list —
green: timecode
grey bold: titles
grey: subtitles
black: voice-over
blue: credits

00:00 He who battles with monsters best beware,
lest he become a monster himself...

00:21 National Socialism still holds a certain fascination. Despite a plethora of educational programs on the subject, its myth lives on. ‘The Dozen Year Reich’, as Brecht called it, was short-lived. And what it created in this brief period, was soon destroyed. No one ever bothered to read its theories, and its words now ring silent.

00:50 What remains are very carefully staged images. In their films, the Nazis created a vision of a different world - a better world, in which good and evil were clearly distinguished, in which there was neither exploitation nor strife, in which each German had his place and his importance. A world of ‘emotional order’. A world of greatness and glory. A world of eternal beauty.


Vision and Death Wish in the Third Reich

01:49 I haven't forgotten you.

The Fear

02:11 After many claims of victory during the First World War, defeat came as a surprise for the nationalists. Revolution raged at home, and the beloved Kaiser was forced to abdicate. Not much remained of the dream of ‘imperial greatness’.

02:48 The Weimar Republic was viewed with revulsion. It appeared to be ruled by a chamber of chatterers and saturated with traitors - working according to unseen and unintelligible rules, yet dominating everything; putting millions out of work and causing them to feel useless and unhappy.

03:07 The 20s were a nightmare for the nationalists.

03:19 Extra! Violent street fighting in Hamburg.
03:25 Dear Fatherland, keep calm.
03:41 Where are the Revolution's achievements?
03:43 Law and Order.
03:45 Only work can save us!
03:47 Nationalize! General strike!
03:49 We women demand…!
03:51 Equality! Liberty! Fraternity!
03:54 Make way for the capable!
03:55 Fellow countrymen and farmers.
03:57 Religion in danger!
03:59 Business and democracy.
04:01 Academic freedom!
04:03 Workers of the world!
04:06 I don't want to hear about politics.
04:09 Parson!
04:10…and farmers!
04:11 Comrades!
04:12 Fellow students!
04:13 Workers!
04:14 Middle classes!
04:15 Democracy!
04:15 Sisters!
04:16 Proletarians!
04:17 Business!
04:19 I want work!

04:39 During this period, formidable chararcters started to appear on the cinema screen – hidden powers arising from the darkness.

04:45 Allegories of the new system.

04:55 Dr. Mabuse was a psychiatrist who could assume many forms.

05:06 He used the new, sinister knowledge to manipulate people and the stock markets.

05:21 A short time earlier, the "Protocoll of the Learned Elders of Zion" had appeared, a delusory vision of a Jewish world conspiracy. Mabuse seemed to embody its message.

05:44 Caligari was also a psychiatrist, sending off his sleepwalkers to commit crimes. A few years later, the National Socialists were bellowing, "Germany, awake!"

06:11 All three robbed and raped respectable women. Nosferatu poisoned the blood of his victims, making them sexual slaves.
In 1923 Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, "The black-haired Jew-boy waits for hours for the unsuspecting girl, satanic joy on his face, so he can defile her with his blood, and thereby steal her from her people."

The New Greatness

07:03 By the mid-1920's, cinema had changed in tone.

07:08 The nationalists had regained their self-confidence.

07:37 The first Nibelungen film protrays the heroic world of the Burgundians. Everything about them is beautiful and staged; people become ornaments of architecture.

07:49 "Dazzling weapon of German faith;" "fiery call to a new day," wrote the press.

08:02 But the heroes are at each other's throats. At the same time, the story is circulating that the November Revolution stabbed the unvanquishable German Army in the back.

08:30 In order to turn these Burgundians into a true brotherhood of heroes again, an antiworld was needed.

08:32 The Huns.
08:39 swarming in filth like rats,
08:44 cavorting like monkeys,
08:47 falling from trees like ticks,
08:50 creeping out of the dark like cockroaches,
08:55 and living in holes in the ground like termites.
09:00 In contrast to these sub-humans, the warring Burgundians were clearly heroes.
09:25 In war's inferno, they show true greatness.

09:33 And while German culture was capable of creating something new in the midst of decline, a Hun used his last breath to destroy what is beautiful.

09:45 Hitler and Goebbels were enthusiastic.

09:45 Fidelity not broken by iron, also won't melt in fire, Hagen Tronje!

09:59 But in the midst of the inferno, one can fortell what comes to those who devote themselves to the ways of the Nibelung – death and horror.

10:37 The director and mountaineer Arnold Fanck created a new genre the mountain film.

10:50 Semi-mythical nature-figures in their element: a woman by the sea, a man in the mountains - played by Leni Riefenstahl and Luis Trenker.

11:04 "Strong propaganda for superior manhood and germanic blondes," wrote one contemporary critic.

11:16 The somewhat muddled plot ends with a victim – the hero plunges into the abyss alongside his dead comrade.

11:26 And so, they bathed his holy mountain in the light of the greatest word that rules over men
11:32 Fidelity.

11:56 "Paths to Strength and Beauty," this film called for nothing less than the "renewal of the human race" …

12:07 …by means of physical exercise.

12:14 For cultural historians, the 20's count as the golden years of modernity, the decade of innovation. But these new ideas were at first met by uneasy feelings - both political and cultural - and then by resistance.

12:38 While modernity dreamed of a New Man
and would gladly have abolished the old one entirely,
the latter was recreating itself around the ideals of myth, tradition and loyalty, leading to a very different vision of a new age.

The Third Reich

13:45 The Third Reich was to be the most beautiful world of all, a 20th century high-tech society turned into a total work of art.
14:10 The purpose of the arts changed fundamentally they were no longer worlds unto themselves, rather, they became part of an overall vision.
14:25 As a result, architecture and large sculptures were considered the highest form of art because they created real spaces which could give form to the Third Reich.

15:01 Whoever wants to work here productively shouldn't let himself be intimidated by the size of the space; he must dominate it.

15:12 The essence of National Socialist aesthetics can be seen in this sculpture by Josef Thorak. Looked at in isolation, it is nothing more than heroic kitsch.

15:23 Only when seen as part of reality, as a total work of art consisting of landscape, motorway and monumental sculpture, does its peculiar fascination become apparent.

15:57 "Word of Stone." It was supposedly made on Hitler's initiative. If he couldn't have his new world right away, then at least he would have it in animated form.

16:22 The paintings that appeared, on the other hand, were meaningless.
As an art of pure imagination, they couldn't contribute to the building of the Third Reich.
Artists rummaged helplessly through the history of art
looking for models –
sometimes it was van Eyck,
sometimes Cranach,
or Rubens.
Not even Hitler was enthused about these pictures.

16:54 With feature films, it was basically the same story as with painting. Here, the model was the tried and tested entertainment aesthetic of the Weimar Republic and Hollywood.
Made professionally, more or less.

17:13 My SA men, I've gathered them from every profession, from all classes.
They believe in me. What can I do, leave them hanging? No!
17:25 From my hundred men, a thousand must arise and ten thousand, with all of them recruiting for Hitler. All of Germany will come, the day is coming…
17:39 My boy…

17:42 At the beginning, there was an attempt to create a new, heroic cinema. A monument was to be erected in film to the SA man in the streets.
17:53 But simplistic, wooden figures, such as Hans Westmar - knowing neither doubts nor weaknesses, were unconvincing.

18:13 There was only one actress who lived up to the Aryan ideal of art: Kristina Soederbaum – blond, blue-eyed - bursting with vitality.

18:30 The melodramas of her husband Veit Harlan mirrored the emotional life of the Third Reich.

18:40 But in fact, National Socialism didn't stage films or plays it staged reality.

Staging Power

19:10 Terrible poverty faces these German national comrades.
19:18 Alone, they can't make it
19:22 All of Germany must help!
19:24 All of Germany will help!
19:30 All of Germany is helping!

19:34 Shoulder spades!
Order spades!

19:42 The transformation of the Nazis from gangs of wild thugs into an organized body serving the state went remarkably quickly. At least on the screen.

19:49 We stand here, we are ready, and we are carrying Germany into the new era.

20:01 Today we work together
In the moor
And we in the quarry
And we in the sand
We're building dikes in the North Sea.
We're planting trees
Resounding forests

20:41 Party conventions were the most important staged events in National Socialism. Here, the Nazis presented themselves the way they wanted to be seen.

20:51 Hitler himself had designed uniforms and banners; he also directed the conventions.
And he had found two artists who would play an essential role in shaping a National Socialist aesthetic the architect Albert Speer and the film director Leni Riefenstahl.

21:09 Working with her was a huge camera team, which enabled her to edit close-ups, long shots and tracking shots together, just like in feature films.
21:21 The staging of reality in an exaggerated documentary style created the image of a ‘monumental’ people, as though cut from one block - with one will, one body, dedicated to the Führer.

21:48 "A memorial to the unity of the german people," the press called the film.
21:56 A memorial for coming generations, which means for us.
22:02 The staged quality of "Triumph of the Will" is one of the most frequently cited film imagery of National Socialism, and even today it still determines its own image.

22:14 Yet the whole fake show would have remained merely ludicrous,
a monstrous parody of Wagner, if its rituals hadn't been acted out in reality as well.

22:36 Where we tread, grass no longer grows, seems to be the promise of these images.

The Body

22:53 That which asserts itself here convulses the 'Volk' in its entirety, shatters it internally and creates it anew.

23:00 Dionysius was the god of intoxication and ecstasy. His facial expression here, suggests exactly what kind of ecstasy is meant.

23:07 This head does not tell the story of an individual person. He speaks: I am concentrated male strength, I hate the enemy of my 'Volk', you must be as I am.

23:47 In the prologue to the Olympics film, Leni Riefenstahl portrays the Aryan ideal of the body. Only strength and health matter. Anything weak, soft or intellectual has been removed.
24:01 The camera looks up to the hero. Slow-motion suggests he is in complete control of his own body. The sky, dramatized with a red filter, suggests a higher power to which he is connected, and the gravity of the fate that awaits him.

24:19 It is as though he had the whole world in his hands.

24:34 When portraying women, the focus changes – female gracefulness replaces martial toughness.
In the background, water and waving grass symbolise fertility.

24:52 Sometimes, the women portray the grass themselves.

25:04 In movement humans show themselves as they are.

25:10 At the beginning of motor activity training one practices feathering, which is necessary for developing the supple joints and elastic muscles needed for all forms of movement.

25:36 Men and women were separated in the Third Reich - in life, as well as in art. They each had their own organization that kept them busy from morning till evening.
In return, they were given eroticism in pictures.
Girls excercising in scant clothing were especially favoured images. Pinups in slow motion.

26:14 Sex in symbols.

26:25 The circle was their fetish, around which, and in which, they were constantly dancing.

26:34 The camera sinks lower, and lower still; and it is evidently not because of the sky.

26:54 For men, things were a bit more robust.

26:57 Our work is filled with song, our work will not be rushed. We bear our faith again…

27:16 Women don't even appear symbolically here.

27:21 Soon you'll build with iron and flame, soon I'll plant with plow and seed. We stand always together.

27:58 Yet, however hard they tried, they would never become as big or as pure as their ideals.

The Beauty of Work

28:17 Hands alone guide the work, with the touch of one finger, with one hold, with restless movement. Our hands, at work!

28:32 The Germans love work. Physical work.
28:37 No propaganda film was released without close-ups of hands at work.
28:57 Factory owners, engineers and foremen on the other hand, were seldom shown. If the ruling class wasn't to be abolished in reality in National Socialism, then at least in the cinema.

29:13 Unemployment was to be abolished with the help of massive programmes. From an economic point of view, the work done was mostly useless. What it did, was create images of a people at work - images of reconstruction.

29:29 We plant new forests for Germany

29:43 Motorways, drained swamps, planted woods built by the Reich conquered space. The myth lives on to the present.

29:53 Our work is filled with song, our labour is free of need. We bear our faith again, on to the old sites of slavery. Soon you'll build with iron and flame, soon I'll plant with plow and seed.

30:20 Remedial exercise! Arm swings with knee bends. Begin!

30:35 The idea of the ‘Beauty of Work’ also included modernization measures; for example, exercise at the work place. Pre-military training was combined with special care for the workers.

30:46 Stop!

31:28 In 1935, the Steelworks Association Corporation hired Walter Ruttmann to make an advertising film, "Metal From Heaven." In the 1920’s, Ruttmann was a leading avant-gardist, world famous for his film"Berlin: Symphony of a City".
31:44 The industry and the artist alike had quickly adapted themselves to the new ideas of beauty. The montages that were used in "Symphony of a City" as experiments in form were meant here to overwhelm the viewer.

32:27 Dead objects were brought to life, in order to bring death to the living.

32:40 Have you ever heard how iron howls when made into steel? Hell roars from iron when it's refined.

33:10 "A Song of Steel." An advertisement for a private company.

33:37 Steel production mirrored the Nazis mythological ideas. A modern factory seems to have turned into a living organism; man and machine merge into a whole, an aesthetic conquest of alienation.

33:53 Youth we are, a time of iron
Youth ordained to steel and iron
Our life for Germany a flaming appeal
Youth we are, made of iron and steel

Blood and Earth

34:30 Love of homeland - the farmer digging in the soil, a soldier's blood sacrifice to gain new livingspace all of this stands for Blood and Earth.

34:45 Directors such as Detlef Sierck and and Hans Deppe created a new genre on this topic, a precursor of the sentimental regional film.

35:03 The landscape was no longer just a picturesque background; it became an erotic objekt, loved above all things.

35:11 It's beautiful to be here at home with you, Helga, when summer has come to the moor. In the night fog lies over the ditches. The reeds are already hard. You can smell it, all over the moor. And you can hear voices, if you have ears for them. Isn't that so, Helga?

36:13 Amateur actors and semi-documentary images create, in a drama without dialogue, a special world. Stories were told in symbols.

36:38 What is meant here, is the return to the Reich; but the camera shows where the journey will really end – under the earth.

36:47 Here you're at home, friend, at home, at home with your own kind. We get a funny feeling in our hearts, when we realize that the particles of soil, the rocks and grassland, the swaying meadows, and the trees, that all of this is German, just like us, because, it's all grown from millions of German hearts that are resting in this earth that's become German earth. For we don't only live as Germans, we also die as Germans. And, dead, we remain Germans and, are a part of Germany, a particle of its soil for the grain of our grandchildren.

37:38 Break open the waiting earth.

37:42 A new religion is conjured up, an archaic concept of the continuous circle. The dead don't go to heaven; instead, they fertilize the earth with their blood, hallowing it and making it fertile.

37:58 A 'Volk' who lets its farmers waste away, perishes. For in the beginning it was... Struggle for bread! And in the end it always remains... Struggle for bread!

38:22 Horse-drawn plows appear throughout the media, even though agriculture had been modernized in preparation for war.

38:54 The circle ends in the corn field, with heroic sacrifice for the "grandchildren's corn."
39:02 This image was edited in again and again, especially when the subject was death.

39:16 The imagery of the Third Reich wasn't particularly original. Variations on a theme, its depiction was as unchanging as the creators’world-view.

39:36 Sometimes they used one take several times. The concept of a continuous circle became literally a form of picture recycling.

39:51 It is a terrible thought, that this was meant to last for another thousand years.

40:13 The hunger of winters spent in war and the hardship of inflation were traumatic for the German people. Having enough to eat was important. There was enough food there, even in times of need, and that had to be shown.

40:25 Apprentices and journeymen united in true comradeship at a common meal.

40:34 Paratroopers take position.

40:55 Here everybody eats stew!

41:03 The high point was stew Sundays. The entire population - factory owners, employees, workers – all ate the same stew, and donated to the poor. The Germans were like a big family, with the Party as mother, who provided for everybody.


42:15 The Third Reich scrubs itself clean. What actually served as education concerning public hygiene, became, in the mass of images, a form of ritualized action, the symbolic liberation from the repulsive, and the retainment of eternal purity.

43:16 There was no depiction of the opponent in art, no criticism or doubt. The National Socialist ideal was clear, clean and complete. Everything else was removed from art and from life. An aesthetic of elimination.

43:47 My German workers. I came from you, once stood among you, and have been with you once again through four and half years of war. It wasn't the intellectual classes that gave me the strength to begin this gigantic work, I had the courage because I'm at home with two classes – farmers and German workers!

44:17 One gets a medal, and the other doesn't. And one has a full shovel And a full shovel brings a penny. And this penny serves as our medal

45:05 A penny a shovel. In fact, the new 'lord of labor' received no more than that. Instead, there was the Führer in the plant, and Swan Lake in the huts. Entire ensembles showed up to provide entertainment.

45:31 A masterpiece of propaganda was the "Strength through Joy" excursions. Even the most luxurious of trips was supposed to be available to those who worked with their hands.

45:43 Workers being waited on. By real staff.

45:50 Even the Navy stands to attention. Just like for a king.

46:12 The trips were still so expensive that ordinary workers could hardly afford them. But they were shown all the more on the screen, so that everyone benefited.

46:30 What a happy people. And strangely enough, the simulation of a community seemed to work. People believed in it. At least for a while.

46:49 Eternal forest, eternal 'Volk'. The tree lives, like you and me. It struggles for the heavens, like you and me. Its death and rebirth weave time. 'Volk' stand like the forest, eternally.


47:32 Mommy, don't you see, now I'm going the same way as you. Mother, I hear you. You're calling me, Mommy.

47:58 In most of her films, Kristina Söderbaum had to die.

48:04 In this way, she became a central allegory for National Socialism on the surface full of life, underneath dedicated to death.

48:12 My child is dead, the farm has no heir. You loved her the most. You should have the farm. Do it better than me. Get rid of the rotten swamp. Rye should stand there.

48:56 Aryan heroes are dead heroes. Their greatness doesn't lie in their victory, but in their sacrifice.

49:18 Marathon race. A gigantic test for the athletes. 42 kilometers to the goal. Fifty-six runners, the hardest and toughest fighters from around the world, give their last to win for their country.

49:39 The runner in the Marathon-legend ran for his country till he died from exhaustion. That is why the marathon is the finale of the Olympics film sacrifice made it the highest form of sport. Leni Riefenstahl edited-in staged scenes during the race: shadows commemorating death; the inevitable corn fields; the naked torsos.

50:04 The score was later used as background music for aerial battles.

50:38 In the Olympics films, the winner is shown at the end of each sequence. The camera paid no attention to the losers. This was not the case in the marathon sequence: here, the runners were not ordered according to their placing but according to their degree of exhaustion. The last one was carried away like a martyr.

51:12 I could die 10 deaths for Germany. 100.

51:24 Eternal Guard

51:25 In 1935, those who fell in Hitler's putsch in 1923 - the so-called ‘martyrs of the movement’, were reburied.

51:34 Now they enter German immortality.They could not yet see today's Reich. But now that they have lost the chance of seeing this Reich we will make sure that this Reich looks eternally upon them. And that's why I didn't lay them in a tomb, or ban them to a vault. No, just as they marched with us then, their chests bare, so shall they lie now, under the sun, in wind and weather, and storm and rain, in snow and in ice.

52:34 The ritual is supposed to show that the martyrs aren't really dead; instead, they live on in the german people. And so the living answer the call of the dead.

52:40 Oskar Körner! Here! Andreas Bauriedl! Here!

53:06 The Third Reich is in its element in death rituals. The most pressing human question – death - is changed from something passive to something active, from something senseless to something meaningful. An emotional home in an atheist world.

53:37 Of course, after 1933, the genuine German was no more of an Aryan hero than he had been before; all too often he was brunette or black haired, fat or puny, lazy or egoistic. And lots of exercise didn't always have the desired effect. In order to make supermen and a community from these Germans, it would take a lot more than just any simple image of an enemy.

The Jew

54:20 The National Socialists needed a universal anti-image, in which they could project everything they hated about themselves and the world.

54:31 Compared to this subhuman being, even the ugliest German was a shining hero and the exploiting capitalist a benefactor of the people.
The image of the Jew was the contrast medium which would heal German society; a Pandora's box that would absorb all the evil in the world and destroy it.

54:52 Hey, actuary, are you really enjoying that?

55:01 "Jud Suess," "Jew Suess" the banker who tortures a brave German in order to rape his wife.

55:11 What's that suppose to mean?
Does she still hear something? That's what it means.
Take it off, my child.
Ok, now give me back my little shawl.
No? Good, keep it then, but...

55:26 The subhuman was allowed to live out his animalistic desires on the screen. Ferdinand Marian played this so seductively that he is said to have received fan-mail by the bucket load.

Ok, but not only you Christians have a God. We Jews have one too. And He is the God of Revenge. And eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
Make him to let me go.
Does she want me to do it, so traitors don't get shot? Hmm?
Don't let him touch me!
She shouldn't be so shy. Then you can have your actuary again.

56:03 Because Kristina Söderbaum often drowned in her rolls she was known as the Reich's water corpse.

56:25 The film was one of the most successful of the Third Reich, also in the occupied countries. Himmler demanded that the SS and the police watch it. Jewish prisoners were mistreated after the showings.

56:37 Jew! Jew!

56:45 In order to provide the imaginary image of the Jew with a kind of pseudo-authenticity, a documentary film was made to illuminate all the facets of the Eternal Jew.

56:47 The Eternal Jew

56:55 Immediately after the invasion of Poland, Goebbels ordered filming to begin in the newly established ghettos. Here,the aesthetic antipode to the Aryan was created by reversing all the elements of film making:
disorderly swarms of people replace decorative crowds; the camera looks down upon the people; there is no sky in the background, only dark alleys. The scenes were filmed with an unsteady, constantly shaking hand-held camera.
These images are also staged reality. The swarms were the result of crowding people into the ghettos, and hunger and persecution created faces with deep, sad, distrustful eyes. National Socialism created the very subhumans that it wanted to exterminate.

57:40 Richard Wagner once said: The Jew is the malleable demon of the fall of human-
And these pictures confirm the correctness of his maxim.

58:00 But the Jews are a 'Volk' without farmers and workers, a folk-nation of parasites.

58:09 Those picking their noses with bread in their hands illustrate the parasites who carry disease. Men with sacks carry away food, a door stands for a wound.

58:18 Always, where a wound appears on the body of a folk-nation, there they attach themselves and draw their nourishment out of the decaying organism. They make their business with the disease of folk-nations, and for that reason they are determined to foster and eternalize all conditions of disease.

58:41 Also where rats appear, they bring destruction into a country, they destroy human goods and food. In this way they spread disease, plague, leprosy, cholera, dysentery, and so forth.
They are sneaky, cowardly and barbarous, and usually show up in huge swarms. They represent in the animal world the element of insidious, subterranean destruction,…just like the Jews in the human world.

59:16 Just as rats are behind every disease, so the Jews were responsible for all the world's unhappiness.
59:24 Not a German, but a Jew invented Communism.
And Social Democracy.
And, of course, Capitalism.

59:33 The Jewish financial kings love playing out their power behind the scenes, and prefer to keep in the background.

59:43 Not the good German, but rather the Jew had betrayed the Front with his revolution.

59:49 Under the illusion of ingenious arguments they tried to divert the sane
activities of people into degenerate tracks.

59:58 He propagated free love and other muddled heresies in order to destroy the Germans.
He was the corrosive intellectualism that mocked even the most sacred of things.

1:00:06 The Jew Tucholsky, one of worst of the smut writers, came up with the phrase, treason is honorable and the heroic ideal is the dumbest of all ideals.
1:00:16 The Relativity-Jew, Einstein, who hides his hatred of Germans behind his obscure pseudo-science.

1:00:20 Not the National Socialist, but the Jew was the murderer.

1:00:24 Don't want to! Have to!

1:00:29 Not the Third Reich – but the Jew strove for world domination.

1:00:31 They are only 1% of the world population but by means of their capital they spread terror
on world stock market, world opinions and politics.

1:00:50 Jewry is most dangerous, where it is allowed to get involved with the holiest matters of a 'Volk', its culture, its religion and art, and to make its arrogant judgments about these. The Nordic peoples' concept of beauty is something Jews are incapable by nature of understanding, and will remain eternally incomprehensible to him.

1:01:24 The main accusation is once again an aesthetic one.
That the art shown here had nothing to do with either Germany or Judaism was irrelevant.
At heart, it was never really about the Jews.
It was a matter of principle: good and evil, beauty and ugliness, purity and decay, tradition and modernity.

1:01:49 The rootless Jew has no organ for perceiving the purity and cleanliness of the German artistic feeling. What he calls art, has to tickle his degenerate nerves. An odor
of putrefaction and disease must surround it. It must be unnatural, grotesque, perverse
or pathological.

1:02:12 Fine arts, architecture, literature and music all suffer in the same way.
For over a decade the Jews have practiced their malign rule. As art dealer, music publisher,
editor, critic, they determine what may be called art and culture in Germany.

1:02:42 The highpoint of the film is the scene of kosher ritual slaughter.

1:02:42 One of the most revealing customs of the Jewish so-called religion is the ritual slaughter of animals. The following pictures are original footage, and are among the most gruesome have ever been captured on film.

1:03:02 Sensitive 'Volk' comrades are advised not to view the following pictures.

1:03:45 The message is clear: one should do to the Jews what they do to these helpless animals. 1:03:58 Such pictures had rarely been seen in cinemas before. The images pause, are interrupted, and then start again from the beginning, like in a horror film. Even today one feels they are unbearable.

1:04:30 Immediately after the Fuehrer coming to power the law that prohibited ritual
slaughter was abolished...

1:04:34 As a result, the shimmering white proclamations on paper really do provide a feeling of relief.

1:04:39 If international financial Jewry in and outside Europe succeeds in once again plunging the folk-nations of the world into a world war,
then the result will not be the victory of world Jewry
but the destruction of the Jewish race in Europe!

1:04:57 The film was not particularly successful. Only the most convinced Nazis wanted to see it. What was shown was ‘too repulsive’, was the reason given.

1:05:07 Sensitive 'Volk' comrades are advised not to view the following pictures.

But perhaps, when the deportations began in 1940, the Germans simply continued to heed this advice. They saw and heard nothing in the years that followed.

The War

1:05:30 Soldiers of the Western Front. The hour of the most decisive battle for the future of the German Nation has arrived. The German people has no enmity towards the English or French peoples. But it is faced with the question whether it wants to survive or perish.

1:05:56 "Victory in the West." The final product of all the efforts to produce a united-nation as one body.
1:06:04 Masses as ornaments in perfection, faces hardened into statues.
1:06:12 A mimesis of death.

1:06:18 Soldiers of the Western Front. Your hour has now come.
The battle beginning today will decide the fate of the German Nation
for the next thousand years.

1:06:34 These pictures are true and simple, hard and unmerciful just like war itself.
This film will be a document for the living and future generations!
During the shooting of this film the following fell for their Führer and Fatherland:

1:06:47 During the 90 minutes of "Baptism of Fire," not a single fallen soldier is shown, or even named. Instead, all those who died during the filming are identified.

1:07:13 A dive bomber attack on a militarily important railroad junction.

1:07:20 Stuka-planes, with cameras installed in their wings, provided the sensational pictures. Weaponry and photographic apparatus had become one.

1:07:33 Taking heavy Polish antiaircraft fire, the Stuka pilot makes a nosedive at the rail facilities,
aiming with the entire aircraft.

1:07:46 They also provided their own sound. The screaming sirens were supposed to drive the enemy to despair.
1:07:54 Which they probably did.

1:07:57 A few hundred meters before the target the bomb is released,
and the plane pulls out of its dive.

1:08:33 Just as people were frozen into ornaments, dead objects were animated.
1:08:49 Through language, machines of destruction are brought to life as animals.

1:08:53 Like hungry jaws the wells open to gobble up new bombs.
1:08:59 Like flying fish the fighters pull up next to the bomber squadron.
1:09:05 Like noble greyhounds our fighters romp around the conquered airspace.

1:09:11 A modern war of mass annihilation is turned into an archaic duel,

1:09:15 The German sword plunges deep into Poland's heart.

1:09:20 an eroticized natural event,

1:09:22 The German Luftwaffe lets loose its balled might in a storm of steel.

1:09:28 and the bombing of a big city becomes a spectacle.

1:09:31Warsaw on the 25th of September. The drama of a city comes to its full and final end.

1:09:41 The sun glares on the white cumulus clouds that have been raised up into bizarre towers
by the heat of the fires, looking like gigantic massifs.
Below lies hell.

1:10:02 The film shows nothing of the destruction of Warsaw, the opening act of the air terror of the Second World War. Rather, it displays beautiful cumulus clouds set to symphonic music. Like everything else, war becomes an aesthetic experience, a part of the total work of art that is the Third Reich. An epic, a 20th century Iliad, but without the desperation described in the latter.

1:10:46 We are the black Husars of the sky
The Stukas, the Stukas, the Stukas
For a mission always ready at first cry
The Stukas, the Stukas, the Stukas
We dive from the sky, and attack
We're not afraid of hell, and turn our back
Only when the foe lies at our feet
England, England, England, we'll defeat

1:11:32 In the West, where the opponent sat in the most modern fortifications of the time, the cinema revels longer in images of destruction.
1:11:50 The impotence and humiliation of losing the First World War are expelled from the soul with ever larger cannons.
1:12:10 Such pictures could be edited together endlessly – just like the scantily-clad girls excersising.

1:12:44 After working off stress, one can march in a much more relaxed manner.

1:13:02 The enemy's strongest bulwark is the Fort Eben Email.
It was considered impregnable.

1:13:19 Svend Noldan's perfect 3-D animation reminds one of modern computer simulation. The observer experiences war from a divine perspective.

1:13:35 This exterior fortification is still firing. With it, Eben Email will stand or fall.

1:13:46 Flame-throwers like dragons and a death-defying hero, like Achilles, who alone conquers an entire fortress. Modernity and myth as one.

1:14:30 At the beginning of the war, the newsreels were still relatively crude, aiming at being up to date. By the time of the invasion of the Soviet Union, they already had the same quality as epic documentary films. The film-makers had taken over the new aesthetic with heart and soul.

1:14:22 Führer command, we'll follow you!

1:15:33 During the First World War, Kaiser Wilhelm had announced: "I no longer know classes or estates; I only know Germans." Back then almost everyone believed him.
1:15:44 The hour of birth of the ‘people’ as a community.
1:15:49 But during the winters of hunger, this community had failed. It was traumatic for the nationalists. "A November 1918 will never happen again in German history," Hitler assured his listeners again and again. This time, the community of fate between Front and Homeland had to hold. And it did.

1:16:29 "Request Concert." The same madness that dominated Volker's facial features in the "Nibelungen." Here, a private plays the organ in order to save his lost comrades with a sign. A German not only sacrifices himself, he creates culture in the process.

1:16:53 Schwartzkopf, come on down, go, go!
Hey, Schwartzkopf, come on!

1:17:14 In war-documentaries one never sees dead Germans. There is only a single, lovingly decorated grave, standing for millions who fell.
But the longer the war lasted, and the more battles were lost, the more the depiction of the war changed, as well.
1:17:39 Now the consolation of death remained entirely symbolic.

1:18:02 Our love, small grave.

1:18:10 The defeat at Stalingrad wasn't shown in cinemas at all.

1:18:13 The Sixth Army's battle for Stalingrad is over
They died so Germany could live
Our pledge: revenge!

1:18:16 Real war can't be aestheticized any longer. Instead of soldiers as statues, one sees the statues themselves, as though they could seek revenge.

1:18:39 Just once more it was possible to bring the masses to their feet.

1:18:46 Just like before.

1:19:36 The defeat at Stalingrad sealed the fate of National Socialism. People seemed to know this. Even the cleverest propaganda couldn't hide the situation from the Germans any longer. Perhaps they didn't want to anymore.

1:20:20 "The Front in the Sky." One last big war documentary.

1:20:33 The battle-scenes were mostly reconstructed with models.

1:20:49 The heroes, once so brave, have become more careful.

1:20:54 The trend is for the better. Getting better. This evening must work.
It has to.
1:20:59 You think it'll work today? We have 80 to 100 percent coverage.
1:21:07 Ok, let's get out of here quick!
1:21:10 What luck, there wasn't even any flak.
1:21:13 Fighter coming up behind us.
1:21:25 Yeah, we lucked out again.

1:21:27 Here it's great, the lights are on it.
Did you destroy one?
Unfortunately not,
but at that level there were the Schreckensteiner with us.
Did you see one?
Yeah, we saw them.
And how downed?
Nah, but hte smoke trailer was considerable.

1:21:42 Despite the Anglo-American air terror
the heroic German air defenses managed, to destroy 1839 aircraft in May.
With a loss of 10,000 flight personnel.
Mountains of bomber wreckage are finding new uses in Germany's industrial smelting ovens.
1:22:07 They can't destroy armies anymore, only recycle them. And talk, talk, talk.
1:22:12 Aluminum being poured into bars.
The numerous aircraft that are supposed to overrun Germany
have not been able to rob the troops of their fighting spirit.

The End

1:23:02 The world the National Socialists imagined was a mixture of myth and socialism, abstruse racial theories, and plans for world domination.

1:23:12 A fairy-tale world, which they had tried to make come true, with any price.
But these ideals were never viable.

1:23:25 However impressive the National Socialists may have appeared at the beginning, however many people may have subjected themselves to their rituals, however much the Germans may have believed in the community - in the long run, nothing could have hidden the fact that all these worlds that they had created had no real substance, that it was nothing more than a world of appearances.

1:23:57 In the end, the idea of a Third Reich remained nothing but an illusion.

1:24:10 Since the National Socialist visions couldn't stand the test of reality, all that was left for them was to achieve reality in their downfall. And, like much of the Third Reich, this too was staged.

The culmination of this staging was the "Scorched Earth" policy:

Not a blade of German grass shall feed the enemy,
no German lips shall give them direction,
no German hand shall offer them help.
He will find every footbridge burned,
every road barred –
he will meet nothing but death, destruction and hate.
Völkischer Beobachter, September 1944

1:25:06 The year is half gone
The farmer mows his grain
And a few have this summer
lost their heart again.

1:25:29 Since the end can be beautifully described , but not beautifully documented, all that was left were melodramas dedicated to death. "Kolberg," the last large-scale production in the Third Reich, was supposedly a film made to persuade the people carry on; in reality, it was little more than a swan-song for the coming generations.

1:25:49 The ocean bears many ships. That sail by, far out at sea. For the one who may soon come

1:26:11 Kristina Soederbaum is an allegory for the doomed and death-seeking Third Reich, which, from the very beginning, had been heading for its own destruction.

1:26:20 You are always close to him, Death.
And it's good, if you give him a little smile and say:
You are my friend, you come when I can't go on.

1:26:30 Do you see the rainbow?
A bridge that spans.
Who knows how soon we'll have to walk across?

1:26:46 Will I be the one to go?
We don't know that.
Make way for me.

1:27:29 The vision of the Third Reich, like the Nibelungen Legend, will probably last a thousand years. Not because of the beautiful images, rather, because millions and millions were killed for the sake of this monstrous world of appearances.

…And when you gaze long in an abyss
the abyss gazes into you, too.


a film by Marcel Schwierin

written & directed by
Marcel Schwierin

Christoph Girardet

Megan Gay

music of the Twenties
Peter Gotthardt

(Norddeutscher Rundfunk)
Michael Krey

production manager
(Norddeutscher Rundfunk)
Viola von Liebieg

assistant director
Valesca Sophia

post production
Christian Minder/video:arthouse

sound mix
Dirk Austen/Paul Productions

Lars Beuko/screenform

Evgeni Lungin
Andrea Virnich

Dr. Ron C. Faust

history consultant
Prof. Dr. Gerhard Kraiker

dissertation (PhD) supervisor
Prof. Dr. Winfried Marotzki

legal consultants
Christian Füllgraf
Prof. Dr. Paul-W. Hertin
Prof. Dr. Thomas Hoeren
Andreas Schardt
Klaus Siekmann (Norddeutscher Rundfunk)

quoted films
NOSFERATU – EINE SYMPHONIE DES GRAUENS, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, 1922
DER HEILIGE BERG, Arnold Fanck, 1926
HANS WESTMAR, Franz Wenzler, 1933
MORGENROT, Gustav Ucicky, 1933
DER SCHIMMELREITER, Hans Deppe/Curt Oertel, 1934
SCHÖNHEIT DER ARBEIT, Svend Noldan, 1934
TRIUMPH DES WILLENS, Leni Riefenstahl, 1935
IN LUFT UND SONNE, Hans Wüstemann, 1935
ARBEITER - HEUTE, Leonhard Fürst, 1935
METALL DES HIMMELS, Walter Ruttmann, 1935
DAS MÄDCHEN VOM MOORHOF, Detlef Sierck, 1935
KAMPF UM BROT, Ulrich Kayser, 1936
EWIGER WALD, Albert Graf von Pestalozza/Hanns Springer, 1936
STEINE GEBEN BROT, Johannes Fritze, 1936
EWIGE WACHE, Dr. Brieger, 1936
DER HERRSCHER, Veit Harlan, 1937
GASPARONE, Georg Jacoby, 1937
GESUNDE FRAU - GESUNDES VOLK, Gösta Nordhaus, 1937
LACHENDES LEBEN, Deutsche Arbeitsfront, 1937
UFA - TONWOCHE 360/1937
WIR EROBERN LAND, Martin Rikli, 1937
ECHO DER HEIMAT – Folge 5, Gerhard Huttula, 1937
UFA - TONWOCHE 408/1938
OLYMPIA - FEST DER VÖLKER, Leni Riefenstahl, 1938
OLYMPIA – FEST DER SCHÖNHEIT, Leni Riefenstahl, 1938
GESTERN UND HEUTE, Hans Steinhoff/Hans Weidemann, 1938
MANN FÜR MANN, Robert A. Stemmle, 1939
DAS WORT AUS STEIN, Kurt Rupli, 1939
UNSERE JUNGEN, Johannes Häußler, 1939
DER EWIGE JUDE, Fritz Hippler, 1940
JUD SÜSS, Veit Harlan, 1940
EIN LIED VOM STAHL, Wilfried Bade, 1940
FELDZUG IN POLEN, Fritz Hippler, 1940
FEUERTAUFE, Hans Bertram, 1940
WUNSCHKONZERT, Eduard von Borsody, 1940
SIEG IM WESTEN, Svend Noldan, 1941
HEIMKEHR, Gustav Ucicky, 1941
STUKAS, Karl Ritter, 1941
VOLK IM KRIEG, Ufa, 1942
DIE GOLDENE STADT, Veit Harlan, 1942
JOSEF THORAK – WERKSTATT UND WERK, Arnold Fanck/Hans Cürlis, 1943
IMMENSEE, Veit Harlan, 1943
ARNO BREKER, Arnold Fanck, 1944
PANORAMA NR. 1, Wochenschau, 1944
FRONT AM HIMMEL, Stöppler/Bartning/Ruppel, 1944
OPFERGANG, Veit Harlan, 1944
KOLBERG, Veit Harlan, 1945

quoted works of art
DENKMAL DER ARBEIT - Modell, Josef Thorak, 1938/39
DENKMAL DER ARBEIT – Skizze, Josef Thorak, 1938/39
FRUCHT DER ERDE, Hans Happ, 1940
DIE FAMILIE, Wilhelm Petersen
ANDANTE, Friedrich Stahl
SEGEN DER ARBEIT, Gisbert Palmié
DER ABSCHIED, Franz Xaver Wolf, 1940
BAUERNGRAZIE, Oskar Martin-Amorbach
DIE RUHE, Richard Klein
EUROPA, Josef Pieper
ARBEITERTUM Zeitschriftentitel Folge 6/1936, Reent Looscher
BERGAN, Julius Paul Junghanns
VERGELTUNG, Arno Breker, in: Völkischer Beobachter 4.2.1943

quoted literature
Friedrich Nietzsche: Jenseits von Gut und Böse. 1886
Bert Brecht: Eulenspiegel überlebt den Krieg. 1947
Dietrich Eckart: Sturmlied. 1918
Gottfried von zur Beek (Ludwig Müller): Die Geheimnisse der Weisen von Zion. 1919
Adolf Hitler: Mein Kampf. 1925
Siegfried Kracauer: Das Ornament der Masse. Frankfurter Zeitung 9./10.6.1927
Filmwoche Nr. 7, 1924, Sonderheft DIE NIBELUNGEN
Axel Eggebrecht: DER HEILIGE BERG. In: Die Weltbühne, 11.2.1927
WEGE ZU KRAFT UND SCHÖNHEIT. In: Illustrierter Filmkurier Nr.159, 1925
TRIUMPH DES WILLENS. Wie der Film vom Reichsparteitag entstand. Ufa-Information 3.4.1935
Adorno/Horkheimer: Dialektik der Aufklärung (1944)
Wilhelm II: Rede zum Kriegsausbruch 1914
Helmut Sündermann: Leitartikel Völkischer Beobachter 7.9.1944

special thanks:
ag Dokumentarfilm
Sandra Bartoli
Christiane Büchner
Tobias Büchner
Anja Casser
Rika Colpaert
Martin Conrath
Alexander Decker
Jörg Drefs
Thomas Frickel
Renee Gundelach
Britta von Heintze
Mike Jarmon
Marcie Jost
Thomas Kufus
Marion Kreißler
Natalie Kreisz
Matthias Müller
Annette Scheuer
Elke Suhr
Grischa Schaufuß
Christine Schön
Zoran Solomun
Bettina Vorndamme
Florian Wüst
Peter Zorn

With the support of Werkleitz Gesellschaft

The script was funded by the State of Lower-Saxony

The film was funded by the foundation of Norddeutscher Rundfunk, Lower-Saxony

© 2003



written, directed & produced by
Marcel Schwierin

Christoph Girardet

Megan Gay

music of the Twenties
Peter Gotthardt

editorial (Norddeutscher Rundfunk)
Michael Krey

production manager (Norddeutscher Rundfunk)
Viola von Liebieg

assistant director
Valesca Sophia

post production
Christian Minder/video:arthouse

sound mix
Dirk Austen/Paul Productions

Lars Beuko/screenform

Evgeni Lungin
Andrea Virnich

Dr. Ron C. Faust

history consultant
Prof. Dr. Gerhard Kraiker

dissertation (PhD) supervisor
Prof. Dr. Winfried Marotzki

legal consultants
Christian Füllgraf
Prof. Dr. Paul-W. Hertin
Prof. Dr. Thomas Hoeren
Andreas Schardt
Klaus Siekmann (Norddeutscher Rundfunk)

Kulturelle Filmförderung Niedersachsen (script)
NDR-Stiftung (production)
Nordmedia-Fonds (international version)
© 2023 Journeyman Pictures
Journeyman Pictures Ltd. 4-6 High Street, Thames Ditton, Surrey, KT7 0RY, United Kingdom

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