WW2 is often described as the Golden Age of Hollywood patriotism but the reality is somewhat more complex. On the talent level Hollywood had a good deal of Communists who vigorously opposed war with Nazi Germany during the period of the Hitler-Stalin pact. On the studio side there was a greed for access to German markets, the same greed that led the Hollywood of the present day to give Communist China censorship power over its biggest blockbusters.
Urwand has titled his riveting book The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact With Hitler, and as you turn its pages you realize with dismay that collaboration is the only fitting word for the relationship between Hitler and Hollywood in the 1930s. Using new archival discoveries, Urwand alleges that some of the Hollywood studio heads, nearly all of whom were Jewish, cast their lot with Hitler almost from the moment he took power, and that they did so eagerly—not reluctantly.
What they wanted was access to German audiences. What Hitler wanted was the ability to shape the content of Hollywood movies—and he got it. During the ’30s, Georg Gyssling, Hitler’s consul in Los Angeles, was invited to preview films before they were released. If Gyssling objected to any part of a movie—and he frequently did—the offending scenes were cut. As a result, the Nazis had total veto power over the content of Hollywood movies. What is shocking and new about Urwand’s account is its blow-by-blow description of Hollywood executives tailoring their product to meet the demands of the Nazi regime.
Like modern Hollywood whose executives eagerly collaborate with Muslim countries that are pathologically anti-Semitic, the Nazi hatred for Jews proved to be no barrier.
In 1936, all Jews associated with the American film industry in Germany were forced to leave the country. Yet even after this, the studios eagerly kept up their profitable dealings with Hitler’s regime.
And the studios did more than just censor movies.
In the late 1930s, Urwand claims, Paramount and 20th Century Fox produced newsreels in Germany depicting major Nazi events. Most shocking of all, Urwand maintains, in 1938 MGM invested in factories making German weapons in Austria and the Sudetenland. As Urwand put it in a recent YouTube interview, “The biggest movie studio in America was actually financing the production of German armaments immediately before World War II.”
After Germany invaded Poland, MGM further consolidated its alliance with the Nazis by donating eleven of its most popular movies to the cause of German war relief.
Much like Hollywood studios after 9/11 played up Muslim victimization.