Entertainment

How Hollywood Helped Hitler

| by Taylor Bell
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A controversial new book titled “The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler” exposes Hollywood’s past and how big studios collaborated with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis during the 1930s.

The book’s author, Ben Urwand, a Harvard post-doctoral fellow, explains movie studios at the time that were “desperate to protect German business let Nazis censor scripts, remove credits from Jews, get movies stopped and even [forced] one MGM executive to divorce his Jewish wife” reports The Hollywood Reporter magazine in its Aug. 9 issue.

Because the Nazis threatened to remove American movies from the German market unless the studios gave in to their demands, Hollywood studios were forced to cooperate or lose the German market, which had been the world’s second largest before World War I. Urwand explains in his book that American studios feared if they lost Germany’s business, they would never acquire it again.

So Hollywood began to run scripts and movies by German officials for approval. Cuts or revisions were made when the officials thought scenes or dialogue put Germany or the Nazis in a bad light or showed the mistreatment of Jews in too much detail. Any films that appeared to be critical of Hitler were scrapped.

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“Hollywood would not make an important anti-Nazi film until 1940,” Urwand writes in his book. “Hitler was obsessed with the propaganda power of film, and the Nazis actively promoted American movies like 1937’s ‘Captains Courageous’ that they thought showcased Aryan values.”

“The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler” goes on sale Sept. 9 and draws from several archival documents in the United States and Germany.

“Historians have long known about American companies such as IBM and General Motors that did business in Germany into the late 1903s, but the cultural power of movies – their ability to shape what people think – makes Hollywood’s cooperation with the Nazis a particularly important and chilling moment in history,” said Andy Lewis, a writer for The Hollywood Reporter Magazine.

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