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Monday, June 03, 2013


Rediscovered: The First American Anti-Nazi Film, Banned by U.S. Censors and Forgotten for 80 Years

What Vanderbilt saw first-hand and chronicled in his film is mild in comparison to what was to come. Nevertheless, his take was prescient. He describes his anxious but partially successful endeavor to smuggle footage across the German border, prefacing the story by saying “there isn’t money enough in Hollywood to get me to go through it again.” (The scene above is a reenactment, as is, quite obviously, the scene of Vanderbilt’s meeting with Hitler.) Asked about his impressions of Hitler, Vanderbilt has this to say:
Unquestionably he is a man of real ability, of force. But the way I sized him up after interviewing him is that he is a strange combination of Huey Long, Billy Sunday, and Al Capone…. I had never heard a man so able to sway people…. In the hour and a half that Hitler talked to that packed audience that night, he was as effective as a barker in a sideshow traveling with a circus.
Vanderbilt says above that the rising Nazi tide, “demanded revenge” and would not rest until they had it, to which his interviewer responds, “It all seems a ghastly, incredible nightmare.” Vanderbilt’s vision seemed like a sensationalistic fever dream to his critics as well.

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