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The Language Club Council deserves praise for showing here on Tuesday night the German and Russian documentaries--"Triumph des Willens" and "The Nuremberg Trials." Long as the program was, the inclusion of both films was amply justified. This doesn't mean that anyone in the audience was so carried away by the first picture that he had to be shown the horror behind its pageantry. But the deliberate unreality of the German film needed to be pointed up-- as it was--by its Russian sequel.
"Triumph" was made at the second Nazi Party Rally in Nuremberg in 1934 for distribution throughout Germany to persuade doubters that the Movement was irresistible. Everything which fits the Nazi cliche was in it; cheering, arm-raised crowds, unending parades and countless flags, and hundreds of thousands of uniformed men in rigid formation. There were torch-light parades and rallies, speeches by Hitler and Party leaders, Heils for Hitler, for Germany, and for victory.
But the cliche was neither surprising nor--for an American audience--persuasive, except for mass and length. The demonstration that the commonplace and the so-called "good German" characteristics played their part was more terrifying. Granted they did not appear in the stadium scenes, nor in the torchlight undertakings, whose purpose was to make the individual forget himself and his responsibilities in the Movement. But the act in the city itself played up the connection between the Party and German culture. Hitler was shown accepting flowers from children (blond almost without exception), shaking hands and talking with idolizing women in peasant costume, smiling with surprise at unexpected applause during a speech. The Camera trip through the Medieval part of the city, accompanied by pastoral music, and the final parade through the city itself consciously, emphasized the revitalization of Old Germany by the Party.
In every way the Russian film was less clever technically. "Triumph" had no narrative, but relied solely on visual effect, combined with music, cheers, and short speeches. The commentary of the English voice in the Soviet picture was gross and inadequate, attempting to describe scenes of such horror as to be visually incredible. After a long exposition of the virtue of the Allies in bringing the Nazi leaders to judicial trial, the voice launched into a denunciation of the defense counsels--an interesting commentary of Soviet justice.
This film is advertised as the Official Allied Council Documentary. There is no American film of the trials for popular release either here or in Germany. After spending an evening being appalled at the skill of hate, one wonders why the United States has been so reticent in publicizing the punishment of it.
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