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The History of German Cinema: 1936-1940








Jud Suss (1940)




1/ 2 - 

German cinema finds itself in the midst of a crisis as exports drop drastically due to the heavily propagandistic content of much of its output. [ADD]





18/2 -

The Propaganda Ministry bans Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times from cinemas. [ADD]





31/3 -

Joseph Goebbels replaces Dr. Alfred Hugenberg as head of the UFA Trust.   He is replaced by a committee headed by filmmaker Carl Froelich. [ADD]





1/8 -

Leni Riefenstahl begins filming the Berlin Olympic Games for Hitler’s propagandistic feature-length documentary, Olympische Spiele. [ADD]





4/8 -

Carl Froelich’s Das Schonheitsfleckchen for UFA is released.   The first German fiction film to be shot in colour (using Siemen’s Opti-color process), the 29-minute film is based on a short story by Alfred de Musset and stars Lil Dagover and Wolfgang Liebeneiner. [ADD]




– The Nazi Government forms a new company in order to acquire existing film companies. [ADD]




– Josef Goebbels prohibits independent film reviews. [ADD]


Other Key German Films of 1936

    Schlussakkord (1936)



Die Nacht mit dem Kaiser (Erich Engel) [ADD]




Schatten der Vergangenheit (Werner Hochbaum) [ADD]




Schlussakkord (Detlef Sierck) [ADD]



  20/12 -

Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels buys Adolf Hitler film prints of 12 Mickey Mouse cartoons, and notes in his diary, “He is very happy about these treasures, which will hopefully bring him much fun and relaxation.” [ADD]




– The German Reich seizes 72.6% of the Ufa share capital, effectively nationalising the German film industry. [ADD]


Other Key German Films of 1937

    La Habanera (1937)



La Habanera (Detlef Sierck[ADD]




Zu neuen Ufern (Detlef Sierck[ADD]




Olympia (1938)



  28/3 -

Arnold & Richter of Munich develop the first Arriflex hand-held 35mm camera. [ADD]



  20/4 -

Leni Riefenstahl’s majestic account of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, commissioned by the International Olympics Committee, is released in two parts.   Olympia 1. Teil – Fest der Volker (Festival of the Nations) and Olympia 2. Teil – Fest der Schonheit (Festival of Beauty).   It receives criticism, however, for failing to reward the feats of Black US athlete Jesse Owens with appropriate screen time. [ADD]




– The Bavaria Filmkunst GmbH (Bavaria Film Art Ltd) is founded in Munich's Geiselgasteig to make films promoting Nazi ideology. [ADD]




– Wehr fur IIA 2992?, a fifteen minute thriller is specially made for German television by UFA.   A copy of the film resides in the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv Koblenz [ADD]


Other Key German Films of 1939


Drei Unteroffiziere (Werner Hochbaum) [ADD]


Hotel Sacher (Erich Engel) [ADD]




Jud Suss (1940)

  24/9 -

Veit Harlan’s infamous Jew Suss is released.   Fashioning an anti-Jewish film from a pro-Jewish novel by Lion Feuchtwanger, Harlan’s tale depicts its title character, Suss Oppenheimer (Ferdinand Marian) as a scheming rapist. [ADD]

  21/11 -

Joseph Goebbels assumes personal control of all filmed news produced by UFA, Tobis and Deulig. [ADD]

  31/12 -

Agfa produce a number of short documentary films using an experimental trichrome colour process. [ADD]

Other Key German Films of 1940
    Wunschkonzert (1940)

Die ewige Jude (Fritz Hippler) [ADD]


Wunschkonzert (Eduard von Borsody) [ADD]



Germany: 1931-1935

Germany: 1941-1945





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