The book, written by Harvard University doctoral student Ben Urwand, posits that Hollywood's major studios not only passively accepted Nazi censorship, but further actively collaborated with Hitler's propaganda machine to protect their interests in the German market.
In the book, titled "The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact with Hitler," Urwand, whose maternal grandfather and grandmother were Jews who hid in Hungary during the Holocaust, reveals documents that have never before been made public.
The book offers evidence that heads of large Hollywood studios, some of them Jews, edited films, scene by scene, at the request of senior Nazi officials. The results were films that could easily have been used as Nazi propaganda.
One document even suggests that Hollywood sent money to Germany to produce munitions.
"Hollywood (in the 1930s) is not just collaborating with Nazi Germany, it's also collaborating with Adolf Hitler, the person and human being," Urwand told The New York Times.
The fact that the Nazi regime intervened in the Hollywood's film industry is known and documented, but Urwand suggests that the relationship between Hollywood and the Third Reich was much deeper and long-lasting than previously known, that this warm relationship continued until the beginning of the 1940s.
Studio executives' cruise on Hitler’s yacht
According to Urwand, collaboration with the Nazis began in 1930, when Carl Laemmle, a Jew who headed Universal Studios, agreed to far-reaching changes in "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1930) after Nazis who watched the movie rioted.
Later on, in January 1938, the German offices of Fox studios sent a letter with a request to receive Hitler's opinion about several movies. The letter ends with the salutation "Heil Hitler."
In 1939, MGM studios hosted 10 editors of Nazi newspapers on a studio tour.
Another discovery included notes by Hitler’s adjutants recording his reactions to the movies he watched each night (he loved Laurel and Hardy but hated “Tarzan”), and a scrapbook in which Jack Warner of Warner Bros. Studious documented a Rhine cruise that he and other studio executives took with an Allied escort on Hitler’s former yacht in July 1945 as part of a trip exploring postwar business opportunities.
“That was the one time I actually shouted out in an archive,” Urwand recalled in The New York Times interview.
Urwand says he found a total of nearly 20 films aimed at American audiences in which content was influenced by senior Nazis. The most important point, he says, is that Jewish characters were almost entirely erased from films.
In relation to the State Department, which repeatedly blocked efforts to expand visas for Jewish refugees, Urwand said: “The State Department’s record is atrocious, but the State Department did not finance the production of Nazi armaments. It did not distribute pro-Nazi newsreels in Germany. It did not meet with Nazi officials and do secret deals.”
Reprinted with permission from the Tazpit News Agency