Hitler’s Reign of Terror – the film was the first US picture to have given the warning about the dangers Hitler and his Nazi regime poses to the world.
Predicting Hitler’s Rise of Trepidation
Produced by the American heir to the Vanderbilt Empire, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Hitler’s Reign of Terror was filmed in time of the former’s visit to the country as Hitler was put in power in 1933. It revolved around a number of footage Vanderbilt took which showed Nazi party rallies, books burning and Jewish shops ransacking.
It was recently found in the film archives of Brussels, having lain there forgotten for over 75 years.
Vanderbilt then brought it to America with him and had it shown in New York in 1934. The film became a huge success.
‘The German embassy in the United States protested, so the film was censored and adapted. It was then shown in other cities but with much less success,’ Bruno Mestdagh, head of the digital collections at the Belgian film archive Cinematheque, said.
So its showing was stopped.
the version discovered by the archive among its files might be ordered by someone who wanted it shown in Belgium but was not able to collect it so the reel copy survived Nazi occupation and World War II in general in the office of the Belgian customs.
The copy was then transferred to the archive in 1970s, lost among the 70,000 titles that was there, 80 percent of which are foreign. It was not until two years ago that the archive’s curators found out they were carrying the only surviving copy of this said film.
The film has undergone re-mastery and its remastered version will debut in New York’s Museum in Modern Art this coming October.
Film Shows Hitler’s Unpopularity
The film, which was prepared as a newsreel, has Vanderbilt’s own footage mixed with a number of other footage taken from various sources. The American heir provided the voice-over throughout its length.
‘Vanderbilt was able to capture some spectacular footage but he just had a few minutes and they constructed a complete film around it. But that wasn’t done by professional film-makers, so the film has a sometimes amateurish feel to it,’ Mestdagh reflected.
That owes to the fact that the film features a chunky re-enactment of the filmmaker with his encounter with the Third Reich dictator – it was when Vanderbilt was able to talk to Hitler for a few moments while he was preparing to address a rally in a Sports palace in berlin after winning the country’s 1933 elections.
‘In the hour-and-a-half that Hitler talked to that packed audience, he was as effective as a barker at a side show, traveling with a circus,’ Vanderbilt commented in the voice-over.
The film also featured his visit to the town in Austria where Hitler grew and attended primary school – in Leonding. He then said through the voice-over that with the stories he gathered, he could deuce Hitler’s unpopularity in the town – no Leonding local said a good word about him.
-Based on an article in Daily Mail