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Arminius the LiberatorMyth and Ideology$
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Martin M. Winkler

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190252915

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190252915.001.0001

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National Socialism

National Socialism

Romans and Germans in Ewiger Wald

(p.159) 5 National Socialism
Arminius the Liberator

Martin M. Winkler

Oxford University Press

Immediately upon coming to power, the Nazis brought the German film industry under their direct command. The 1936 feature film Ewiger Wald (“Eternal Forest”) shows the Nazis’ view of the cycle of life and death in nature and among the people and culminates in the Nazi era. The film’s first historical scene is the Roman defeat in the Teutoburg Forest. Uniquely, it is the Volk, not Arminius, who beat back the invaders with the help of patriotic nature. Rarely has history been presented on screen with such blatant distortion. In its portrayal of Romans and Germans, Ewiger Wald harks back to Die Hermannschlacht of 1924, the subject of the preceding chapter. Ewiger Wald also parallels the Nazis’ greatest self-glorification on screen, Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (1935). The chapter closes with a discussion of Nazi views about ideological uses of history in films and spectatorship of historical cinema.

Keywords:   Nazi propaganda films, history as propaganda, film spectatorship, Joseph Goebbels, Ewiger Wald, 1936, victory without Arminius, nature symbolism, Leni Riefenstahl

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