There are few regimes, periods of history that are most reviled, most studied and, yet, referred to and portrayed in many movies than the Nazis. Japanese war movies do not share the same billing due to the sensitivities surrounding the internment of Japanese Americans. That specter haunts every military engagement we undertake with Government going to great lengths to ensure racial harmony with the particular ethnicity we are currently at war with. The current tendency towards placating Muslims may be misguided, though, considering the foremost tenet of Islam which is the destruction of anyone and anything non-Islamic. While open persecution of any race and religion is abhorrent, we must look closely at any group that openly professes hatred towards the United States and treat that group differently according to their actions. We do not tolerate the KKK or the Aryan Brotherhood with political correctness therefore, we must neither tolerate terrorist organizations and the religious arm that supports it with that arm hiding under Constitutional immunity.
Nazism is a form of Socialism. The Third Reich controlled all the media, all the daily operations of Germany and the German Economy. Like the Czars that now dominate the President’s Cabinet, the Ministers under Hitler were each assigned specific authority over various sectors of Government. One of the most notable figures was Albert Speer.
Albert Speer was the central planner, designer and chief ombudsman for Hitler’s plan to rebuild Germany. His desire to create a magnificent, modern Berlin was an obsession and Speer used his architectural training and experience to bring this obsession of Hitler’s to fruition. Speer had remarked in his memoirs about the Fuhrer’s accuracy in designs and ended up using many of the sketches with little changes.
The concept of Central Planning is nothing new. Rome did it, Greece did it, China is doing it and all over the world agencies are tasked with creating laws to regulate and secure construction standards. Free societies have the luxury of open competition and the ability to create art with the development of Real Estate. There is no Government office that controls content. This was done away with during the Third Reich. Hitler and Speer controlled the entire visual experience for the public. The underlying rule was “make everything grand and appear to last forever.” It had to be, considering Hitler planned on a thousand year reign. The Chancellery Building had a huge dome and the entryway was massive. The stadium where the great speeches were given was ringed with giant spotlights that pointed straight up as if to carry the message of Hitler’s power to God himself. Sir Neville Henderson referred to the Nuremburg Party Rally event as “.. a cathedral of ice.”
Another important factor in all of Speer’s designs was to create something uniquely German. Both Hitler and Speer detested the worn out, old look of Berlin and thought nothing as they razed structures and forced out residents and businesses. Although many aspects of Greco-Roman architecture were employed there was a desire to stay away from an international look. One of Speer’s earlier professors (Tessenow) had stated that there was no such thing as an international culture and that style was from the people native to their nation.
I will state here and now (and the reader can debate me later) that Nationalism is intrinsic to Americans. Nationalism is not necessarily a bad thing. It is love of country. It can be taken to extremes and part of our history has experienced Nationalism under the concept of Manifest Destiny. Xenophobia is another extreme of Nationalism and we will explore this further in this chapter.
Many of the movies we are exploring in this book are full of national pride. That pride is displayed in scenes, words, actions, ideas, sets, panoramas, wide shots, pull backs and basic story lines. The daily struggles of the poor are symbols of national pride; their resilience, sense of hope and overcoming odds. War movies are symbols of national pride, even the movies that portray negative events. Movies about inventors, doctors, race relations, old westerns, science fiction all reflect a form of Nationalism.
My wife and I love to watch old movies. I love to see the scenes of city streets from the 40’s, the old cars, the hand held phones, how everyone smokes and drinks, the suits, industry, bucolic towns. I am amazed, every time, when a modern ‘time period’ piece is made where research and accuracy create realism. Entire industries have been developed to reproduce items specific to a certain era just for film. This is Capitalism and is counter to the Liberal, Socialist ideas spouted by many daft actors and actresses and Capitalism is an example of national pride, or, Nationalism.
The Nazis could never attain the level of production that the United States had during WWII. Their sense of national pride existed only in the minds of those in power and was expansionist in nature. For sure the Germans loved their country but they were caught up in a revolution orchestrated by a few elitists. It is not unlike the wave of Socialism that runs through America today. It is orchestrated by a few elitists using the dictums of equality and fair distribution to promote an agenda. The Nazi concept of production quotas was just that, a production quota, and entry in a ledger somewhere in the Reichstag. American production is based on profit, efficiency and market domination. Workers are paid a fair wage and are allotted vacation time, healthcare, retirement and are free to leave a job in pursuit of another. Socialist regimes dictate work, pay and seldom allow for diversity or advancement. In a Capitalist society a person can buy stock in a company, save money in a bank, secure a loan, patent an idea and work for themselves. Not so in a Socialist society. Speer’s designs may have been his own but they were the sole property of the Third Reich.
Aside from the great building boom that spread across Germany the Nazis second largest industry was munitions and the development of a modern army. This is where production quotas held their highest importance and were expected to grow exponentially. Hitler’s violation of the Treaty of Versailles may have alarmed the League of Nations but, like the UN today, they were either unable or unwilling to do anything about it. I was amazed during Operation Iraqi Freedom at the debate over the invasion. The UN was feckless and wrote angry letter after angry letter to Saddam Hussein to no avail. Eventually the President formed a coalition and did something about it and the Left complained. I guess the axiom of history teaching us nothing is true.
Hitler’s invasion of Poland was the debut performance for the Third Reich’s modern arsenal and the West was alarmed. The German Nationalist movement had created a monster in the Wermach and Luftwaffe. Some guy named Werner was stuffing Hydrazine into a two story tube and touching it off with an electrical signal. Meanwhile, America’s version of Roosevelt Socialism was barely able to crawl out of the Great Depression by building a dam in the desert and a giant bridge across San Francisco Bay. Our planes were still made of wood and cloth and much of our infantry still rode horses. Hitler’s concept of a fast moving, totally overwhelming invasion force, known as ‘blitzkreig’ (lightning force) was unstoppable. America, still, wouldn’t give blacks weapons but they could dig all the latrines they wanted too. The Fuhrer’s megalomania and xenophobia would result in the worst atrocity unrivalled until Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo and Rwanda combined. Again, here in America the KKK would unleash a rampage across the South against the least armed, most vulnerable and poorest segment of our society. Nationalism, on both sides of the Atlantic had reached a tipping point resulting in some of the most horrific and unforgivable moments in history.