This film is part of Free

Inside Nazi Germany

A genuinely historic film, which caused much controversy at the time: the first commercially -released American motion picture to explicitly attack Hitler and Nazism.

Documentary 1938 16 mins


This is the most notable film in the entire March of Time series: a compelling blend of genuine footage from Nazi Germany and re-enactments filmed in New Jersey, with anti­-Nazi German­-Americans playing German citizens and Gestapo officers. The rousing commentary, explicitly critical of Hitler’s ‘racial purification’ programme, combines with the dramatic imagery to create a powerful, groundbreaking film which audiences flocked to see.

Why was this film so controversial? In 1938 newsreels and cinemagazines were not thought to be suitable vehicles for explicit attacks on the domestic policy of another nation. Many critics praised the film and others condemned it but few were neutral. Some even felt that the footage filmed inside Germany inadvertently made the film’s message seem pro-Nazi, featuring as it did, shots of smiling, well-fed children, happy families and well-drilled, clean-cut soldiers. Ultimately, however, the verdicts of those who praised the film’s courage and importance, such as producer David O. Selznick, have proved to be a more accurate assessment of the film’s lasting significance.