The Power of Propaganda

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Great video from my colleague Michael Moynihan. There’s also a great documentary with similar themes playing in a few theaters right now called A Film Unfinished. I wrote a mini-review of the film in the December issue of Reason:

Until recently, one reel of Nazi-shot film has been the source of all available footage of the Warsaw ghetto. But in 1998, a British researcher found a second reel in a storage room at an American Air Force base. In A Film Unfinished, director Yael Hersonski publicly airs this new footage for the first time–and reveals that the images the world has for decades associated with the Warsaw ghetto were staged. In this reel of “outtakes,” Nazi propagandists recruit the few healthy, comparatively better off Jews for carefully crafted scenes aimed to demonstrate that Jews were living well in Warsaw and, to the extent that there was misery, that affluent Jews were to blame for causing it.

No one believed the original film was an accurate depiction of ghetto life. But here Hersonski movingly documents yet another dimension to Hitler’s cruelty: Warsaw’s Jews were conscripted to keep the world in the dark about their own impending demise.

It’s an amazing documentary. She also brings in survivors of the Warsaw ghetto, shows them the Nazi reel, and allows them to rebut the staged footage.

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5 Responses to “The Power of Propaganda”

  1. #1 |  Marty | 

    Mussolini admired Woodrow Wilson’s ability to manipulate and use propaganda…

  2. #2 |  Adam | 

    I hate the fact that we now use the word “ghetto” as a synonym for slum. I think it dilutes the meaning of what real ghettos (in the WWII sense) were.

  3. #3 |  JS | 

    Marty “Mussolini admired Woodrow Wilson’s ability to manipulate and use propaganda…”

    Yea in his book Hitler also raves about allied, particularly British propaganda during the first world war.

  4. #4 |  EH | 

    Adam: I’ve always had a personal definition of ghetto to mean a place that cannot be escaped, politically, economically, etc.

  5. #5 |  Yngvar | 

    One small credit (?) to the germans in the Nazi-era: Newspaper circulation fell, and the number of radios sold dropped.