Hitler's Reign of Terror (1934)

60, 65 or 67 mins | Documentary | 30 April 1934

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HISTORY

Although a print of this film was not viewed, a trailer promoting the picture was screened. In the trailer, an announcer invites the audience to "watch and listen as [Cornelius] Vanderbilt interviews [Adolf] Hitler," without indicating that the interview is a re-enanctment. In an excerpt from the interview, Vanderbilt is heard shouting at the Hitler impersonator, "And what about the Jews, your Excellency?" The NYT review describes a moment in the interview with the Crown Prince in which the Prince says that he would rather not be quoted, "evidently being unaware that somewhere a microphone and a camera are busy making a record of the talk." Var states that while the film does not identify them as such, all of the anti-Nazi speeches were delivered at a Madison Square Garden rally. Many reviewers complained about the amount of newsreel and re-created footage used in the film, as well as the excessive use of superimposed "white circles," which highlighted Vanderbilt's presence in various crowd scenes. Reviewers also commented on the "ballyhoo" surrounding the release of this documentary, particularly in New York and Chicago, where questions of censorship were being debated hotly in the newspapers. In Chicago, the film was banned after the first day of its release as a result of protests from the German diplomatic service, according to FD . Presenter Samuel Cummins agreed to change the film's title to Hitler's Reign in Chicago in order to appease the protesters, and the picture was re-opened. In New York, according to FD , the Steuben Society of America asked Mayor Fiorello La Guardia to stop the ... More Less

Although a print of this film was not viewed, a trailer promoting the picture was screened. In the trailer, an announcer invites the audience to "watch and listen as [Cornelius] Vanderbilt interviews [Adolf] Hitler," without indicating that the interview is a re-enanctment. In an excerpt from the interview, Vanderbilt is heard shouting at the Hitler impersonator, "And what about the Jews, your Excellency?" The NYT review describes a moment in the interview with the Crown Prince in which the Prince says that he would rather not be quoted, "evidently being unaware that somewhere a microphone and a camera are busy making a record of the talk." Var states that while the film does not identify them as such, all of the anti-Nazi speeches were delivered at a Madison Square Garden rally. Many reviewers complained about the amount of newsreel and re-created footage used in the film, as well as the excessive use of superimposed "white circles," which highlighted Vanderbilt's presence in various crowd scenes. Reviewers also commented on the "ballyhoo" surrounding the release of this documentary, particularly in New York and Chicago, where questions of censorship were being debated hotly in the newspapers. In Chicago, the film was banned after the first day of its release as a result of protests from the German diplomatic service, according to FD . Presenter Samuel Cummins agreed to change the film's title to Hitler's Reign in Chicago in order to appease the protesters, and the picture was re-opened. In New York, according to FD , the Steuben Society of America asked Mayor Fiorello La Guardia to stop the opening of the film "on the grounds that it stirs up racial feeling." Cummins, however, got an injuction from Supreme Court Justice Alfred Frankenthaler to prevent anyone from prohibiting the film's exhibition. According to a news item in DV , Nazi sympathizers showed up at the New York opening, but were dispersed by a policeman. At one New York screening of the film, Vanderbilt and Edwin C. Hill appeared in person and made introductory "microphonic" comments, according to NYT review. FD notes that "specially made shots" of Clarence Hathaway, executive secretary of the American Communist Party, in which he gives the Communist view of Hitler's government, were added to some prints of the picture, and the film was then billed as Workers' View of Hitler's Reign of Terror . FD lists the sound engineer's name as Murray Dichter and credits Sam Rosen as the cameraman instead of the editor. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 May 1934.
---
Daily Variety
1 May 34
p. 2.
Daily Variety
24 May 34
p. 1.
Film Daily
26 Apr 34
p. 2.
Film Daily
27 Apr 34
p. 7.
Film Daily
1 May 34
p. 1, 3
Film Daily
21 May 34
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
12 May 34
p. 40.
Motion Picture Herald
2 Jun 34
p. 75.
New York Times
1 May 34
p. 26.
Variety
1 May 34
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Workers' View of Hitler's Reign of Terror
Release Date:
30 April 1934
Copyright Claimant:
Jewel Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
15 February 1934
Copyright Number:
MP4854
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
60, 65 or 67
Length(in reels):
6
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

This documentary begins with a re-enactment of a telephone conversation between narrator and radio commentator Edwin C. Hill in New York and photographer and newspaperman Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr. in Berlin. As the conversation proceeds, footage of a torchlight parade through the streets of Berlin, and the burning of books written by Jews and opponents of the Nazi Party is seen. Next, the homecoming of Vanderbilt and his meeting with Hill is depicted. Vanderbilt's flight out of Germany, in which he taped his exposed film to the bottom of his automobile in order to deceive German police, is re-enacted. After Hill and Vanderbilt discuss the current situation in Germany, a re-enactment of an interview between Adolf Hitler and Vanderbilt is shown. A series of scenes depicting the great battles of World War I is presented, and Hitler's home town of Leonidad, Austria, is seen, as are the grave sites of Hitler's parents. Vanderbilt travels next to Vienna, where Chancellor Dollfuss presides over the Heimwehr parade, and shoots footage of Austrian Nazis rioting in the streets. A re-enactment showing Vanderbilt's discovery that his passport had been stolen is followed by scenes showing Nazi atrocities against Jews, as well as shots of Jews in concentration camps. In a re-enactment, Vanderbilt then is shown interviewing Wilhelm, the Crown Prince, after which more shots of book burning are shown. An actual interview with Helen Keller, whose book was banned and burned by the Nazis, is followed by re-enactments of an interview with Prince Louis Ferdinand and a conversation held between Vanderbilt, the prince and Kaiser Wilhelm II in Doorn, Holland. Newsreel footage showing excerpts from anti-Nazi speeches ... +


This documentary begins with a re-enactment of a telephone conversation between narrator and radio commentator Edwin C. Hill in New York and photographer and newspaperman Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr. in Berlin. As the conversation proceeds, footage of a torchlight parade through the streets of Berlin, and the burning of books written by Jews and opponents of the Nazi Party is seen. Next, the homecoming of Vanderbilt and his meeting with Hill is depicted. Vanderbilt's flight out of Germany, in which he taped his exposed film to the bottom of his automobile in order to deceive German police, is re-enacted. After Hill and Vanderbilt discuss the current situation in Germany, a re-enactment of an interview between Adolf Hitler and Vanderbilt is shown. A series of scenes depicting the great battles of World War I is presented, and Hitler's home town of Leonidad, Austria, is seen, as are the grave sites of Hitler's parents. Vanderbilt travels next to Vienna, where Chancellor Dollfuss presides over the Heimwehr parade, and shoots footage of Austrian Nazis rioting in the streets. A re-enactment showing Vanderbilt's discovery that his passport had been stolen is followed by scenes showing Nazi atrocities against Jews, as well as shots of Jews in concentration camps. In a re-enactment, Vanderbilt then is shown interviewing Wilhelm, the Crown Prince, after which more shots of book burning are shown. An actual interview with Helen Keller, whose book was banned and burned by the Nazis, is followed by re-enactments of an interview with Prince Louis Ferdinand and a conversation held between Vanderbilt, the prince and Kaiser Wilhelm II in Doorn, Holland. Newsreel footage showing excerpts from anti-Nazi speeches given by Samuel Seabury, prominent New York lawyer and politician; Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, author and Jewish political leader; Edward Neary, American Legion chief; Raymond Moley, Undersecretary of State; Matthew Woll of the American Federation of Labor; Michael Williams, editor of Commonweal ; Dr. John Haines Holmes of the Community Church; and Fannie Hurst, well-known novelist and screenwriter is interspersed with scenes depicting the Nazis' attempt to revise the Bible. In conclusion, Congressman Samuel Dickstein of New York addresses the film audience and warns of the danger of Facism in America, and Hill delivers a summation concerning the entire German situation. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.