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December 15, 1989 - Image 28

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-15

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Camer a !

The Hollywood cameras of the 1930s
and 1940s filmed glamour, excitement
and adventure — but almost never the
Jews of Nazi Germany.


Features Editor

George Sanders in "Confessions of a Nazi Spy." Produced by Warner Brothers in 1939, Hollywood's first
anti-Nazi film drew storms of protest throughout Europe and the United States. Theaters in New York and
Milwaukee showing the movie were burned down.



dolf Hitler sat alone
in the dark room,
quietly watching
the black-and-white
movie flickering on
the screen.
Charlie Chaplin, playing a
Hitler look alike named
Adenoid Hynkel, is growling
about complaints from con-
centration camp prisoners.
They don't like the sawdust
in the bread. "But it's from
the finest lumber our mills
can supply!" Hynkel cries.
He turns to stare at
himself in a three-way
mirror. He wrinkles his
brows, looks sternly at the
images before him and an-
nounces: "We must do
something more dramatic,
like invading Austerlich."
Moments later, Hitler
walked out of the room. He
never discussed the movie
with anyone.
The Great Dictator, in
which Chaplin plays the
leader of "Tomania," was
one many World War II
films that dealt with the
Nazis, but one of a handful
that addressed the persecu-
tion of the Jews. Even Hitler
had heard of the movie, and
insisted on the private
Motivated by profits —
producers were convinced
audiences had little interest

in watching films about the
horrors of war; by personal
reasons —most of the
Hollywood studio heads
were Jews who wanted to fit
perfectly into the American
way of life; and by pro-
paganda — U.S. political
leaders were determined
that the country's citizens
should not be encouraged
into battle by manipulative
films, Hollywood virtually
ignored the murder of 6
million Jews.

The Jewish Producers


ollywood in the 1930s
was the place to be:
Flashy cars, hand-
some leading men with pen-
cil-thin moustaches,
glamourous women with
platinum hair, bright red
lips and nails. It was the
place where a nobody, like
Margarita Cansino, could
become a somebody named
Rita Hayworth.
None knew this better
than the Hollywood studio
heads. Almost all came from
poor families in Eastern
Europe. As young boys, most
experienced the death of one
parent. Most came to the
United States without
relatives or friends and
made it on their own. And
almost all were Jewish.
Of 85 names engaged in
production, 53 were Jews.
And the Jewish advantage
held "in prestige as well as

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