Batman fighting the Japanese in WWII

Batman

When we think of the first TV screening of Batman we automatically think of the 1966 TV series when Adam West took on the role as the caped crusader. However it was the actor Lewis Wilson who first portrayed the Batman on the TV screens.

This day 75 years ago, July 16 1943, the Batman made his first TV appearance.

show

The series from Columbia pictures  consisted of 15 episodes and were produced  by Rudolph C. Flothow, directed by Lambert Hillyer.

They were really Wartime propaganda movies.

The Batman/Bruce Wayne , and his side kick, Robin/Dick Grayson ,played by Douglas Croft, are  secret government agents following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

batman and robin

The city is still Gotham city but there is no Bat mobile but there are however bats in the Bat cave, The duo do not fight any of the villains we know from the comics and the newer Batman movies. No Joker or Riddler but instead Dr. Daka,  aJapanese mastermind of a wartime espionage-sabotage group.

Dr Daka has a death ray which is powered by radium and can pulverize walls but can also turn normal men into electronic zombies and do the work for Dr Daka.

daka

Funny enough Dr Daka is played by J. Carrol Naish  a New York born Irish-American actor.

The titles of the episodes were:  1. The Electrical Brain; 2. The Bat’s Cave; 3. The Mark of the Zombies; 4. Slaves of the Rising Sun; 5. The Living Corpse; 6. Poison Peril; 7. The Phony Doctor; 8. Lured by Radium; 9. The Sign of the Sphinx; 10. Flying Spies; 11. Nipponese Trap; 12. Embers of Evil; 13. Eight Steps Down; 14. The Executioner Strikes; 15. The Doom of the Rising Sun.

cave

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Sources

IMDB

 

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Boycotting Jewish Businesses

boycott

Although tempted to join the debate on the current call to boycott goods from Israel, I am not going to join. I rather stick to what I know best, history. .

On April 1, 1933, the Nazis in Germany began with the boycott of Jewish businesses. They claimed it was a retaliation to the calls of boycott on German goods by foreign critics of the Nazi Party.

German

In reality the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses was part of the early measures for eventual eradication of the Jews.

Below are just a few examples of those boycotts, they were OFTEN accompanIed by the SA or SS.

“Germans protect yourselves, don’y buy Jewish”

1

Outside a Wohlwert shop “The battle against department stores”

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“Germans don’t but from Jews”

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Boycott poster , announcing the boycott of all Jewish businesses signed by Adolf Hitler and Paul von Hindenburg on behalf of the German people.

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Brundibár- A Holocaust Opera.

Opera

On the 23rd of June , 1944,two delegates from the International Red Cross and one from the Danish Red Cross visited Theresienstadt  accompanied by the commandant SS First Lieutenant Karl Rahm and one of his deputies.

Rahm

During the visit the delegations were treated to an Opera by the Jewish composer Hans Krása. The children’s opera Brundibár was composed by composer Hans Krása and written by the writer Adolf Hoffmeister in 1938. for a government competition, which was  later cancelled because of  political developments.

In mid 1941 a production of the opera  was directed by Rafael Schächter, and several  of his friends,  it served as a fiftieth birthday present for the director of the orphanage at Hagibor. There had only been 2 performances of the production in Prague, both took place in secret for the Jews were banned of partaking in any cultural events.

By winter 1942 composer Krása and  the set designer František Zelenka had been transported to Theresienstadt.

By summer 1943, almost all of the children from  the original chorus and the orphanage staff had also been transported to Theresienstadt.

cast

This gave composer Krása the opportunity to reconstruct the full score of the opera, based on memory and the partial piano score that he had kept, the opera was adapted ait to suit the musical instruments which were available in the camp:guitar, clarinet, , flute, accordion, piano, percussion instruments, 4 violins, a double bass and a cello . A set was once again designed by František Zelenka, who had  formerly been  a stage manager at the Czech National Theatre.

In spring  time of 1944 the Theresienstadt ghetto was getting ready  for a visit from the  International Red Cross committee, whose aim it was to assess its function as a ‘model’ ghetto that was ‘given’ to the Jews, by Hitler. Brundibár was chosen as the opera that would be put on show  for the committee. It waswas moved to a large sports hall outside the ghetto, and Zelenka, was given the materials make improvements to  the set and costumes. This beautification of Brundibár had to happen overnight. The end scenes of Brundibár were then filmed on June 23  1944 for the propaganda  film Theresienstadt (better known under the title The Führer Has Given the Jews a Town).

film crew

The plot of the opera is about two children,Aninka and Pepíček, whose mother is very ill and needs milk to get better, but there is no money.An idea  of making money occurs to them when they see the organ-grinder Brundibár earning a living in the market. But Brundibár is an evil man , and shouts down the children. During the night,  animals from one of the posters  come to the aid of  the despairing children, and the following  day they help the children to sing louder than Brundibár. The children get  the money they need , but the evil Brundibár steals their earnings . In the end the children find him and are given back what belongs to them.

All of the cast who were involved in the Theresienstadt production were put on transport  sent to Auschwitz as soon as filming was finished. Most were gassed immediately when they arrived, including the children and also the composer Krása.

Krasa

What makes all of this worse is that the whole charade was believed by the Red Cross.

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Teaching hate

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I was going to put a lot of pictures in this blog, but then when I looked at this picture I thought that it would be enough.

A class, class mates and a teacher, like any other class in any other school. Except it isn’t. Here the children are taught to hate. The kids standing in front of the class are not there because they didn’t do their homework, or missed a test.

No they were standing there because they were Jewish, no other reason.

The lines on the blackboard translate to “The Jew is our greatest enemy! Beware of the Jew”

The teacher here as in any other school, is a figure of authority. In charge of children who he has to educate, it is clear that here he is teaching hate and he is using live examples of the type of people his pupils have to hate.

This picture is from a school in Germany taken in 1935, just think of that 1935 several years before the holocaust did not reach the mass extermination stage yet.

People ask me sometimes ” How could a sophisticated and cultured nation like Germany allow a genocide.

The picture above is part of the answer, you teach them to hate at a young age.

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When the propaganda of Der Stürmer was even too much for the Nazis

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Der Stürmer is probably the most vile newspaper ever published. It was nothing more then Julius Streicher’s Anti-Semitic propaganda tabloid. It was however popular and made Streicher a wealthy man.

It wasn’t the official Nazi newspaper, in fact some leading Nazis did not like it at all. Joseph Goebbels tried to ban the newspaper in 1938. And Hermann Goering banned the newspaper in all of his departments, he had a special hate for the paper for it had published and article claiming that his daughter Edda was conceived via artificial insemination.

Edda.JPG

Other Nazis like Heinrich Himmler and Robert Ley did like the publications of the paper.Hitler himself thought the primitive nature of the publications where very effective in influencing the common Germans.

In his propaganda work, Streicher made use of  medieval stereotypes ,especially Jewish stereotypes, or rather exaggerated stereotypes and caricatures. It’s slogan was Die Juden sind unser Unglück-“The Jews are our misfortune!”,

paper

In  May 1934 ,the paper published an article about Blood libel ,or Blood accusation,which was a myth that dated back to the middle ages. It was said that  that Jews required human blood for the baking of matzos for Passover and therefore  kidnapped and murdered Christian  children and used their blood as part of their religious rituals. The may edition of the paper was eventually  banned by the Nazi authorities, because it went so far as to compare alleged Jewish ritual murder with the Christian rite of communion.

Bllod Libel

 

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Nazi Propaganda in Europe

Dutch

The Nazi had a well oiled propaganda machine which was very effective,not only to sell their warped ideology but also when it came to recruiting for the SS and other branches of the army.

They also had a very effective propaganda program outside Germany. The picture above is a Dutch SS recruit poster saying “For your honor and conscience Up! against the Bolshevism” The Waffen SS calls you”

Recruitment posters for the Norwegian SS, unfortunately I don’t speak Norwegian, but I believe the posters are self explanatory.

Norway

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Belgium also had propaganda posters.””All the Flemish in SS troops! Our answer: weapons in the hands!”

Belgium

Like in the Dutch poster the emphasis on the Walloon(French speaking) Belgian posters was put on fighting Bolshevism. In fact they called it a crusade.

Walloon

In France the German army was portrayed as a liberating army, and not a occupying force. This poster says “Abandoned people, trust the German soldier”

France

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Hoffmann,photographing the freak Hitler.

Heinrich_Hoffmann_cropped

Heinrich Hoffmann was a Nazi politician but also was Adolf Hitler’s official photographer.He was also part of the Nazi propaganda machine.

The one thing that always intrigued me is why did a man who was so close to Hitler mot see what freak he was dealing with. He must have seen that the man was clearly delusional. When he was developing the photographs in his dark room did he not see the bizarre behaviour, or was he so filled with hate and brainwashed by the Nazi ideology that he didn’t want to see.

Below are just some examples. If I wouldn’t know better and if I didn’t know who Hitler was I would have thought that these were pictures of a lunatic, a freak.

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2

3

Even his fashion sense should have rung alarm bells

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Really wearing a swim hat in a car!

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Of course we shouldn’t make light of the evil that was Adolf Hitler, but sometimes it is good to show what a freak the man really was.

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Law Abiding citizens

Law

It is not always a good thing to be a Law abiding citizen, don’t worry I am not encouraging anarchy but it is a fact that many things which we now know were evil and vile, were once laws. Like slavery once was legal and written into law.

Combine that with a nation whose culture it is to follow rules and laws, it can have devastating effects, especially when there is no critical thinking and things are just accepted. This is one of the reasons the Nazis were so successful in carrying out their atrocities.

Not only were these crimes against humanity committed within a legal framework, the laws for this legal framework were designed and implemented by a legally elected government.

Nuerneberg

The Nuremberg Laws  were antisemitic and racial laws .They were introduced on 15 September 1935 by the Reichstag at a special meeting convened at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the NSDAP.

Rally

They consisted of 3 sets of laws.

  • Law for the Protection of German Blood & German Honor
  • Law for the Protection of Hereditary Health
  • The Reich Citizenship Law

Although the German population weren’t all that comfortable with the laws, they did not really protest against them either,because the changes were not immediate,gradually the rights of mainly  Jews but also,Homosexuals,Disabled,Roma,Sinti and others were chipped away.

Initially the anti Semitic and Jewish propaganda and protests  also declined, due to the fact there was less need for them , because now there were laws in place.

Boycott

The propaganda would soon take other forms often introduced in education via school curricculums or through ‘mainstream’ media.

propganda

Below are the sections of the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor.

Section 1
1. Marriages between Jews and citizens of German or kindred blood are forbidden. Marriages concluded in defiance of this law are void, even if, for the purpose of evading this law, they were concluded abroad.

2. Proceedings for annulment may be initiated only by the Public Prosecutor.

Section 2
Sexual relations outside marriage between Jews and nationals of German or kindred blood are forbidden.

Section 3
Jews will not be permitted to employ female citizens of German or kindred blood as domestic servants.

Section 4
1. Jews are forbidden to display the Reich and national flag or the national colors.

2. On the other hand they are permitted to display the Jewish colors. The exercise of this right is protected by the State.

Section 5
1. A person who acts contrary to the prohibition of Section 1 will be punished with hard labour.

2. A person who acts contrary to the prohibition of Section 2 will be punished with imprisonment or with hard labour.

3. A person who acts contrary to the provisions of Sections 3 or

4 will be punished with imprisonment up to a year and with a fine, or with one of these penalties.

Section 6
The Reich Minister of the Interior in agreement with the Deputy Fuhrer and the Reich Minister of Justice will issue the legal and administrative regulations required for the enforcement and supplementing of this law.

Section 7
The law will become effective on the day after its promulgation; Section 3, however, not until 1 January 1936.

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An excuse often used especially by perpetrators was that they were only following the law and orders.

Although I do take in consideration that culturally the Germans followed the rules and the laws of the land, it did not excuse them of the crimes committed by their government. On the other hand though especially later on during the Nazi regime, any one who was critical about the regime could face death themselves.

And although it is easy for us to judge. we should ask ourselves one question: How often do we question our Government’s rules and decisions?

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Sources

Jewish Virtual Library

Yad Vashem

 

 

Your job in Germany and Our Job in Japan.

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Cat in the hat;How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and It’s a Wonderful Life are not stories you would associate with WWII or propaganda, and yet they have a distinct ,albeit indirect link to WWII propaganda movies.

The name Theodor Seuss Geisel will mean little to many people,although there is a hint in his name which gives away the name he is known by to most. He is better known as Dr. Seuss.

Seuss

In 1943, he joined the Army as a Captain and was commander of the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces. Where he got to work with Frank Capra, the director of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.

Initially they worked together on a series of black-and-white American instructional,  cartoons, of a character created by Capra called ‘Private Snafu’,that were produced between 1943 and 1945

Private_SNAFU

The cartoons were humorous very much like the Looney toons. The short movies were directed by famous  directors like Chuck Jones and Fritz Freleng.

In one episode of the series ‘Three Brothers’ released on December 4, 1944 a certain Bugs Bunny made an appearance.

Frank Capra and Dr Seuss worked on 2 hard hitting propaganda films ,shortly after WWII in 1945.

Your Job in Germany

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The film would probably be called racist and non political correct nowadays but in the context of the time it was accepted and also understandable.This training film was made for U.S. Army occupation forces in Germany following World War II.

It  tells how Germany has always been evil and when given a the chance again they would start another war with another leader like Hitler.

In the films the troops are urged not to become friends with the Germans, for the Nazi mentality is still prevalent in the German psyche, and probably always will be.

intro

Jack Warner, of Warner Brothers,  secured the rights to ‘Your Job in Germany’ and turned it into a short documentary entitled Hitler Lives?, directed by Don Siegel. It was released commercially on December 29, 1945 and won the 1946 Academy Award  for Documentary Short Subject.

Our Job in Japan

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Our Job in Japan was a United States military training film made in 1945. Equally to ‘Your Job in Germany’ this movie would now be perceived as racist and totally not political correct.But similarly in the context of the aftermath of WWII and the brutality the Japanese army had displayed during the war it was understandable and probably warranted to portray the Japanese people in the way they did.

The film was aimed at American troops heading to Japan to occupy the country in 1945  It presented the problem of turning the militarist state into a peaceful democracy.

It starts off showing Japan surrendering  , followed by the depiction of bad things that they did during the war, and also how the Japanese always followed a backward quasi religious philosophy. The  narrator explains that although the war is over the Japanese brains still need to adapt to a more modern society based on common sense and not by worshiping the old ways.

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Our Job in Japan was also used as a  basis for a longer, commercially released film, with the title ‘Design for Death’  in 1947 directed by Richard Fleischer. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

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Sources

National Archives

IMDB

 

Humour in WWII

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Despite all the horrors of WWII there was still room for humour, satire and a healthy dose of sarcasm during WWII.

Although sometimes the price to pay for a joke could be quite high. In this blog just examples  some WWII jokes and the consequences for some of them, and ways how people coped with the war in a humorous way.

I am not sure if this one originates from WWII but I believe it does.

“Why do french tanks have rear view mirrors? To see the battlefield”

398277aff7b2ecd72ee8b88d1c079027--world-of-tanks-french-army

21st November 1940: Wally’s barber shop, St Martin Street has defiant signs outside after losing its windows during the London blitz.

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A British shopkeeper hanging up a sign during the Blitz which reads, “Business as usual Mr. Hitler.” London, England – 1940

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Although the Nazis didn’t feel that jokes necessarily undermined their regime there were times people were punished severely by telling jokes, especially when Hitler was the butt of the joke.

“The true Aryan is as blond as Hitler, as slim as Göring and as tall as Goebbels” Many  German jokes centered  on the vanity and human weaknesses of the Nazi leadership , not so much on the fact that they were evil killers.

“An adjutant bursts into Görings office: “The Reichstag is on fire!!”. Göring checks his watch and says: “What, already?” The Germans had their suspicions that the Nazis were behind the Reichstag fire.

“Hitler and Göring are standing atop the Berlin radio tower. Hitler says he wants to do something to put a smile on Berliners’ faces. So Göring says: “Why don’t you jump?”

A factory worker, known as Marianne K., was executed for telling this joke. Her husband had been killed in Stalingrad.

Jump

Humorous propaganda poster

Vintage_WWII_Patriotic_Posters_United_States_America_Hitler_4LG

 

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