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The natural aryan and the unnatural Jew : environmental racism in Weimar and Nazi film / by Susan Power Bratton

Publication | Library Call Number: PN1995.9.J46 B73 1997

Analysis of the environmental motifs in German films from the Weimar and Nazi eras (1919-1945) found mythic productions such as Friedrich Murnau's Nosferatu, Paul Wegener's Der Golem: Wie er in die Welt Kam, and Fritz Lang's Die Nibelungen associated Jewish stereotypes or Untermenschen with inorganic environments, such as caverns and the soil, and with disease-carrying animals, such as rats. The productions depict Jewish residential sites as disordered, confined, cavelike and dangerous. Lang's Siegfried turns a Jewish archetype, a back-stabbing dwarf king, into stone. Siegfried, in contrast, is associated with giant forest trees and blooming flowers. Leni Riefenstahl's Das blaue Licht ties pure sexuality to the aesthetic Germanic landscape and characterizes wild nature as national public space. Riefenstahl's Olympiad and Triumph des Willens present creation events where Aryan males emerge out of the German landscape and ascend above nature. Her films either exclude non-Aryans or use uncomplimentary camera angles and editing to denigrate their achievements. Viet Harlan's Jud Suss, an openly anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda film, portrays the Eighteenth-century Jewish finance minister, Joseph Suss Oppenheimer, and his Jewish associates as effete cultural parasites preying on the German populace. Harlan's Suss lacks family, ignores animals and avoids the German landscape. He turns his attention to inorganic gold and abstract wealth, while destroying middle class households. Harlan's script characterizes Judaism as an association of charlatans, who have no relationship to the realm of nature. Fritz Hippler's propaganda work, Der ewige Jude, compares the Jewish people to disease-bearing rats and to deadly, invisible bacteria, instead of lowly but useful animals, such as goats. Weimar and Nazi films extend historic anti-Jewish metaphors associating Christ with the tree of life and the providence of nature, and Jews with the inorganic realms of hell and of money-centered finance, into an inherent spiritual and physical dicotomy between the natural Aryan and the unnatural Jew. The process of separating Jewish stereotypes from the natural argues that Jews are neither living beings nor normal humans and frees their antagonists from societal responsibilities to protect Jewish rights, safety, health, and lives.

Format
Book
Author/Creator
Bratton, Susan.
Published
1997
Includes bibliographical references (p. 392-414)
Language
English
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Record last modified: 2018-05-29 16:28:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/bib40063