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Visual Depictions of Bodies in Nazi Ideology

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Films as tools of Propaganda and Body Elevation The Nazi government perpetuated most of their atrocities through using one of its main weapon – the Ministry of Propaganda which produced many films and documentaries which were aimed at elevating the Aryan race and discrediting other racial groups which the government deemed enemies of the people or ‘dangerous’. Many film makers rise in defense of films that were produced during the Nazi period claiming that they did not propagate propaganda at all. Nevertheless, this paper argues that these films expressed the same doctrines as were laid down in Mein Kampf, and more specifically the idea of racial inequality.

Some films and articles do this more bluntly than others. Many films worked to convince German citizens of the truthfulness of Nazi claims, particularly regarding Jews, and the necessity of Nazi actions against their so-deemed ‘enemies’. In the film, Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will) documented the Nazi Party rallies of 1934. The images and spoken words told the audiences of the goodness and strength of the Nazi Party and the cause for which it fought.

Olympia documented the 1936 Summer Olympics while at the same time it reinforces Nazi views of Aryan superiority and the Greek ideal. Jud Suss is a recount of a story about Jewish Finance Minister and Duke Karl Alexander, both of whom are portrayed as betrayers of Germany through their greed. Another film, Der ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) presents an evidence of the destructive effects of the Jews on German society as well as the entire world. These visualized images were aimed at convincing people to conform to a certain view of physical beauty, political loyalty, and racial identity.

The producers of these films kept their messages to the public simples and restated their points several times. They sowed the seeds of propaganda among the people though their visualization of the different images. The nature of these films made it possible for the filmmaker to bring his message to life in order to capture the interests of his audiences. Hitler’s stated aim and the Nazi’s idea was to disseminate propaganda which Hitler stated that “must be addressed exclusively to the masses. ”6 The Nazi government under the leadership of Hitler denied loans and financing to film makers whose films did not champion their ideologies.

This regime excluded the Jewish film makers, and other film makers who according to Nazis were racially impure. This reduced the number of artistic professionals.

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