1933 postcard: Friedrich, Bismark, Hindenburg, Hitler
1933 postcard: What the king conquered, the prince shaped, the field marshal defended, the soldier rescued and united.

UCSB Hist 133c, L03:
Film: Here is Germany (1945)
lecture on Jan. 9, 2006 (L02; L04)

by Professor Harold Marcuse (homepage)
contact: marcuse@history.ucsb.edu

created Jan. 17, 2006, updated 6/21/09, 4/2/13

Introduction (back to top)

Guiding question: How is Germany's history different from other countries' histories?

  • Since the projector wasn't working on Wednesday, I took the first part of today's lecture to show and review the images from the Lecture 2: "What is Germany?" (they are in that web page).
    Here is Germany film image
    World War I headline used in film to show Germany's history of aggression

  • Then I showed the first 20 minutes of the 1945 US Army film Here is Germany, which was made to prepare soldiers who had not seen combat to go to Germany for the US occupation after the May 8, 1945 unconditional surrender. The film was, however, never used for its intended purpose.
  • I will present the lecture on Germany's "special paths" next Wednesday (after the Monday MLK day holiday).
  • Note that this film presents arguments drawing on several of those "special paths," but mainly the long tradition of militarism and obedience to authority.

1945 US Army film Here is Germany (back to top)

  • starts with about 3:30 minutes of footage of good, clean, wholesome Germans
    • country: "historic," "prosperous," "modern"
    • people: "clean and tidy," "educated," "musical," "industrious"
    • mailman, farmer, cop: just like the folks back home?
    • They look like the kind of people we can understand -- or can we?
    • a kindly people, accept blood purges, pogroms, concentration camps
    • a gentle people, fond of kids, music, tyranny, aggression, gas chambers
  • cut to 3 mins. of footage of Nazi atrocities
    footage from liberated camps, massacre of Italians, Belgians, US POWs at Malmedy
  • Puzzle: how to explain the contrast between the "clean, industrious people" and these horrors?
    • Let's look deeper into the German character: What makes Germans so?
    • Germans/Hitler would answer "in their blood,"
    • but Americans don't think so--we say it's in traditions
  • The "bad" tradition is ascribed to Prussia: "goose-stepping back to soldiers fought by your grandfather" in the 1870s
    • allegorical common soldier "Carl Schmidt" is used to personify the German enemy
    • Nazis, Huns, Prussians: different names for three generations of Germans
    • Frederick William I, "Soldier King" of Prussia, 1713-40
    • Frederick "the Great," 1740-1786: footage of men on horseback taking prisoners
      11:40: "I begin by taking. I shall find scholars afterwards to demonstrate my perfect right."
    • For 7 years he fought agains Austria, Russia, Sweden and France, was invincible
    • Legacy lived on:
      • Scharnhorst & Gneisenau established the General Staff
      • Clausewitz, in his book Vom Kriege (About War): "Just as Prussia has been fated to be the core of Germany, so Germany will be the core of the future German empire of the west."
      • "Conquered people should be left with nothing but their eyes to weep with."
  • "3 pillars of power:" militarists, large landowners, state officials
  • 1806-1819: dissolution of "first Reich" by Napoleon
    • historians call this the forced modernization of the state administration (bureaucracy), education, and army
    • "E pluribus unum" [out of many, one]: German states move towards economic union
  • 1848: popular revolution; but unification "from below" fails
    • Heinrich Gagern and Fredrick William IV (*1795; 1840-1858; d. 1861)
    • 14:10: "Never may a scrap of paper come between me and my subjects!"
    • Over the next 30 years 2 million people emigrated to the US
    • "Those remaining were molded into mindless automatons."
  • Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898)
    • 1862 head of Prussian cabinet
    • "Great questions of the day will not be decided by majorities, but by iron and blood."
    • "As soon as anybody can show me that it is sound policy, I shall be equally satisfied to see our troops fire at the French or the Russians, the English or the Austrians."
      [professor's note: this sounds like a justification for NOT starting a war with them!]
    • 1866-1871: In three wars (against Denmark, Austria, and France) Bismarck creates the "second Reich" "from above" Coronation of Wilhelm I at Versailles, by Anton von Werner
    • 17:30: The Prussian king is crowned German emperor.
    • "Germany's symbol is Victoria (shown atop the Brandenburg gate), NOT the liberty bell, NOT the magna carta, NOT liberté, egalité, fraternité."
    • "The myth of Prussian superiority became the myth of the master race."
    • industrialists="4th pillar" of power
    • military-industrial complex with footage of railroads, the fleet and steel production
    • Germany is rich and prosperous, the world forgot the tradition of war and conquest
  • William II succeeds William I in 1888
    • is vain and arrogant

      1890: William II drops "pilot" Bismarck (famous cartoon in satirical magazine Punch
    • fires Bismarck in 1890, making war inevitable
  • 23 minutes into film: reenactment of assassination of Austrian archduke in Sarajevo, July 1914
    • Great War (World War I) starts with great fervor
    • the US feels compelled to enter the war: tanks, trenches
    • surrender and armistice, celebrating and fraternization among soldiers
    • Was this a reason of optimism??
    • ... under the surface they stayed the same, same teachers, same general staff
    • "Carl Schmidt" never saw an occupying army, but rather an armistice instead of an unconditional surrender.
      Why should he accept the shameful treaty of Versailles?
      He blamed the men who signed the peace treaty.
      Footage of demobilization under the terms of the treaty
  • The film goes on to ask how Germany was able to rearm so quickly under the cycle of hyperinflation and depression. An unholy quartett of:
    • militarists, state officials, industrialists, and landowners
    • to which Hitler added a fifth: gangsters [35 mins]
  • the film runs through the Nazi period, then after about 47 minutes begins the conclusion:
    • How to ensure that it won't happen again?
      Unconditional surrender, removal of general staff, occupying armies, new state officials, new textbooks made in the US
    • We come as conquerers, not liberators
    • Germany must rid itself of the tradition of Frederick, Bismarck
    • only then can a cultured Germany join the peaceful nations of the world
    • ends to the strains of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy"
1934 postcard of 4 German leaders
Postcard from ca. 1934 showing 4 German leaders in the tradition of Mt. Rushmore (begun 1927, Washington 1934, Jefferson 1936, Lincoln 1937, Roosevelt 1939; see Nat'l Park Service history).
The German caption read:
"What the king [Frederick the Great] conquered, the prince [Bismarck] shaped, the Field Marshal [Hindenburg] defended, was rescued and united by the soldier [Hitler]."

prepared for web by Harold Marcuse, Jan. 17, 2006, updated: see header
lecture 2: What is Germany?; lecture 4: Germany's "Special Paths"
back to top, Hist 133c homepage