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Was Hollywood Friendly with Hitler?

A controversial new book asserts a "bromance" between the American film industry and the Nazis during 1930s.

by
Chris Yogerst

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October 25, 2013 - 7:00 am
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The Collaboration

Was Hollywood working with Hitler? Based on decades of research from many historians, the consensus is no. However, Harvard University’s junior fellow Ben Urwand claims otherwise in the already infamous book titled The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler. Urwand’s publication follows Thomas Doherty’s Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939 that contextualizes prewar Hollywood as a business-centered industry where only profits mattered. Hollywood and Hitler provides useful cultural context to Hollywood in the 1930s, without which, it would be easy to misinterpret. After reading both Doherty and Urwand’s books, it is clear that Doherty has the superior study.

hollywood_and_hitler

Urwand’s book, The Collaboration, claims to break the news to film historians that Hollywood was part of Hitler’s evil empire. The book’s subtitle, “Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler,” says it all. Urwand argues both Jack Warner (of Warner Bros.) and Louis B. Mayer (of MGM) both altered or stopped films on request of the Nazis. Urwand uses these claims to illustrate an alliance between Hollywood and Hitler. Urwand uses the word ‘collaboration’ because that is the word the studio bosses used. However, they meant collaboration in a business sense. Urwand is interpreting the word ideologically. With Urwand’s study available only a few months, scholars and critics have come out in hordes to trash it in major publications ranging from The Hollywood Reporter, The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and many others. Things have gotten so heated that questions have been raised of Harvard’s credibility, as well as Urwand’s dissertation committee members at Berkeley.

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All Comments   (7)
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This sounds like an attempt to redirect attention from Hollywood's links to Stalin.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some time ago and, hence, fading in my oldie but goodie memory I saw a documentary here in Germany on the Hollywood films shown here in Germany before it became clear (1937 or 38) that Hitlerism was malignent and not Olimpic games "pure". Hollywood did submit itself to censorship influence in some way or another, otherwise the film buff Goebels would have blocked American films (which he--and I think too Adolf himself liked). If I can dig up the documentary and watch it again I will return to this article. At the moment I hold that some sort of "coinciding" did take place, for after alll the German market was a significant one. Money is often not only color blind, but ideologically subservient.

I know it is common to identify Hitlerism or nazism with fascism. I, however, understand fascism as primarily valid for the STATE capitalism of the Italian fascists. Not until the subsumption of Mussolini's fascism under nazi dominance did anti-Semitism and its murderous killing of Jews become enacted in Italy. Were there not some prominent Jewish figures early backers Mussolini until ...? Here in Germany documentaries on Mussolini himself and, of more interest, on the evolving Mussolini/hitler to Hitler/mussolini relationship seem to document a certain nazification of Mussolini. Despite common usuage, I prefer to call a spade a spade and distinguish somewhat between Mussolini fascism (at least before his seduction by Hitler and the Wehrmacht, more powerful than his badly trained soldiers). Today I read on occasion "fasco-islamism" or a variant formulation. Since anti-Semitism is so virulently, indeed, lethally (judging from words used) embedded in Islamism, would not "nazio-islamism" be better? Perhaps that is just my personal taste in such distasteful matters.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
The final solution did not come to Italians Jews until after Mussolini fell from power. Even when Germany and Italy were allied the Italian government ignored German pleas to get into the game.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
P.S.: I just noticed in The Blaze of Oct. 25 an article on Time/Warner's taking up Al-Jazeera into its cable fold, but not Beck's The Blaze. Taking up Al-Jazeera AND The Blaze could be seen as motivated by money rewards. Taking up the radical sender and rejecting a patriotic sender seems to suggest that more than monetary gain was a motivation factor, rather also ideological. But, the moguls of Time and Warner are not the same today as in the 1930s! True, but there is the fact of a take-up selectivity on the part of Warner & Co. I have a certain déjà vu experience or just a conspiratorial tick in my decaying brain?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree moral historical revisionism is weird and stupid. People behave as if they infallibly would've deserted Cortes and Custer, assassinated General Lee, poisoned the leaders of the Crusades, written the Magna Carta and defied Jim Crow in Alabama in 1930.

So who deserted the Aztecs when they tore out the hearts of war prisoners by the thousands, converted to Christianity when Islam conquered Spain, assassinated the Persian Shi'ite ruler of Hyderabad, India, shot their fellow Nazi guards at death camps, gave ancient Egypt democracy and women the right to vote, and rose up against the Empire of Japan to protect Manchuria, China and Korea?
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Charlie was impressive, and said much of value. But not everything was equally helpful: "…where science and progress will…" basically, lead us to the promised land, without national borders (did you catch that one?). And so, here we are….
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I heard one story in which one of the moguls painted arrows on the tops of his studio buildings pointing towards some nearby military installation so Japanese bombers wouldn't hit his buildings by mistake.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
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