Demandowsky’s Criticism of Ufa in the Völkischer Beobachter

"Remnants of Parliamentarism”

Demandowsky’s Criticism of Ufa in the Völkischer Beobachter

Ewald von Demandowsky’s Criticism of Ufa in the Völkischer Beobachter of March 10, 1937

On March 10, 1937 the Reichsfilmdramaturg (Reich Film Supervisor) and SS man Ewald von Demandowsky, later head of production at Tobis, presented the Nazi view of the Ufa in the Völkischer Beobachter: “It’s no secret if you say it out loud: Ufa films remain Ufa films. It was like that years ago, it’s like that today, the films are all alike, they don’t just display the company logo in the credits, no, it flies like a flag over the idea, it dominates the scene, shapes every actor, influences everyone involved, it persists, but it does not vitalize.”

The missing “vitalization” here is meant in the sense of Nazi ideology. Von Demandowsky is clearly invoking a stance which Propaganda Minister Goebbels demanded of the film industry as early as March 1933, when he announced that film ought to assume “nationalist contours” and that art was only possible “when its roots penetrated National Socialist soil.” “It does not truly vitalize,” von Demandowsky continues, “for even though the products of the Babelsberg studios are handsomely made, technically impeccable and correct in terms of craftsmanship, the artistic aspect, that is, the truth-to-life and authenticity, lags behind by ten years. It must inevitably lag behind, if not by ten years, then at least by four.”

Von Demandowsky sees “parliamentarism” as the prime reason why Ufa, in the spring of 1937, still failed to fully adhere to the party line. In that year, for example, Reinhold Schünzel completed “Land der Liebe,” his last German film before he emigrated, despite having a special work permit as a so-called “half-Jew.” As a representative of the totalitarian Nazi regime, von Demandowsky denounced any remnants of democracy, implicitly formulating the wish for Ufa’s nationalization of, for maximum control:
“You see, in 1933 parliamentarism disappeared (this ought to be shouted out loud into the hills of Babelsberg, even if the sand gives no echo), that peculiar machinery of opinion-creation and sell-out which deserves to be described no further. Here and there remnants of parliamentarism remain, just as patches of snow remain in spring, and some have found refuge in the directors’ offices and boardrooms (or even in the chambers of the Ufa’s advisory board?), where they are tended with love and devotion. So well that they have survived to the present day, a political miracle.”

The timing of this call for a unified commitment to the ideals of the Nazis, the appeal to Ufa to adhere to the party line, is extremely interesting from today’s perspective: nine days later, on March 19, 1937, the government leadership pulled off the covert takeover of the Ufa by means of the Cauio trust company.

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