Hollywood’s “Golden Age” of 1930s films was tainted by collaboration with the Nazi regime in Germany, a new book details.
The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler, written by Harvard post-doctoral fellow Ben Urwand, uncovers the dark period when Hollywood capitulated to German demands so as to preserve its relationship with one of its largest international movie markets.
The Nazis threatened to exclude American movies — more than 250 played in Germany after Hitler took power in 1933 — unless the studios cooperated.
Before World War I, the German market had been the world’s second largest. Even though it had shrunk drastically in the interim, the studios believed it would bounce back and worried they’d be excluded from the market if they didn’t cooperate.
Urwand drew on an abundance of archival documents in the U.S. and Germany, documents that included correspondence between Nazi officials and studio heads peppered with the word “collaboration,” as the two sides worked to maintain their close business ties.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, “beginning with wholesale changes made to Universal’s 1930 release ‘All Quiet on the Western Front,’ Hollywood regularly ran scripts and finished movies by German officials for approval. When they objected to scenes or dialogue they thought made Germany look bad, criticized the Nazis or dwelled on the mistreatment of Jews, the studios would accommodate them — and make cuts in the American versions as well as those shown elsewhere in the world.”