Title

Question:

I have been told that German film director Arthur Maria Rabenalt made some Nazis propaganda films for Joseph Goebbels. Can you tell me what films he directed and what the films were about. Please tell me anything you know, I want to know more about him but, everthing I find on the internet is German.

Harry W. Mazal OBE answers:

Thank you for your question addressed to the Holocaust History Project.

I am one of the persons in the Project who responds to such queries. It is possible that other colleagues of mine might wish to respond as well.

The best information I have found so far on Arthur Maria Rabenalt appears in the following book:

The UFA Story: A History of Germany's Greatest Film Company
Klaus Kreimeier
Translated by Robert and Rita Kimber,
Transl. c. 1996, Hill and Wang (New York)

A paragraph on page 285 reads:

"Arthur Maria Rabenalt, experienced director of 'unpolitical' comedies, has described in his memoir how he and others used flights into the past, costuming, and staging as 'camouflage' and as a way of subverting the imposed ideology. And he shows clearly that entertainment films had to remain remote from life if they were to remain unpolitical. Thus=20 was generated the opera buffa peculiar to the National Socialist state, harmless 'operetta in a conversational mode, so to speak, with occasional hit tunes thrown in.' Many Ufa directors walked this vague borderline between 'inner emigration' and resigned escapism. But satire and=20 sophisticated irony were likely to meet with incomprehension and mistrust from the Nazis, and films that 'elicited sheer delight from sophisticated audiences' in the Gloria Palast or Marmorhaus were=09 received in 'grave-like stillness' at the Ministry of Propaganda." [FN-30]

[FN 30] Arthur Maria Rabenalt, Film im Zwielicht (Hildesheim and New York, 1978), 43, 53f, and 56."

It might be worthwhile for you to seek out Rabenalt's memoir cited above.

There are several other references to Rabenalt in the book. Whether he was considered by the Americans as "politically incriminated" or "unincriminated is not clear. What is clear is that he was allowed, together with most film-makers of the Nazi era, to make 'unpolitical' films again "that would help an impoverished, demoralized people forget their cares for a few hours."

Yours sincerely,

Harry W. Mazal OBE

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