Schulte-Sasse, Linda. "The Jew as Other under National Socialism: Veit Harlan's Jud Suss." The German Quarterly 61.1 (1988): pp. 22-49.
This article seeks to understand how a filmic narrative, such as Jud Suss, works to reinforce social norms or confer subjectivity upon viewers, as in the case of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany during World War II. Linda Schulte-Sasse’s discussion of Jud Suss deals with three areas of concerns: how the film deals with history, how the film functions as an anti-Semitic text, and how the film addresses its audience.
Schulte-Sasse argues that, contrary to popular belief, it is not just that the film “falsified” the story of Suss Oppenheimer that made it resonate so deeply with German audiences. Instead, it is more important to look at the way that the story was falsified and the aspects of the historical story that appealed to German audiences in order to understand the film’s impact. Harlan twists several facts in the story of Suss Oppenheimer in order to make it fit the mold of the traditional “bourgeois tragedy.” The key difference in Jud Suss is that instead of targeting aristocrats as the source of evil, the film targets Jews.
This article is useful in proving my thesis because it discusses reasons why Jud Suss, in particular, influenced German audiences. One particularly interesting topic discussed was the way in which Jud Suss was shaped as a bourgeois tragedy led to the “moralization” of citizens. Schulte-Sasse theorizes that the tragedy in Suss violating the harmony of a good Christian family leads to a moralization of the audience, which then leads to a spreading sympathy that results in a noticeable change in society once a majority of citizens have been moralized.
The article also discusses how racism and xenophobia in Nazi narratives serve to strengthen the audience’s identity as members of the German community. In order to exemplify the differences between audience and the “Other” (in this case, the Jew), Schulte-Sasse also delves into the specific stereotypes that Jud Suss employs to characterize Jews. She argues that Jud Suss characterizes Jews as drawing their influence from money, slyly calculating, parasitic, aimless roamers, and also sexually immoral. These traits can be traced to the perceptions that German audiences held of Jews and help explain why Germans were able to fall easily into the grasp of anti-Semitism. Jud Suss not only used techniques to reinforce the idea of Jews as the “Other,” but also to strengthen the idea of a German collective community, where exclusion of outsiders were not only normal, but necessary.
Tegel, Susan. "The Demonic Effect: Veit Harlan's Use of Jewish Extras in Jud Suss (1940)." Holocaust and Genocide Studies 14.2 (2000): pp. 215-241.
In this article, Tegel seeks to explore director Veit Harlan’s systematic recruitment of Jews to use as Jewish extras in his 1940 film, Jud Suss, in order to shed light on how the Nazis furthered their ideology and propaganda through their control of the entertainment industry as well as what effect the Nazis in the film industry had in contributing to the Final Solution.
Tegel argues that the true danger felt by the German people in respect to Jews was a fear of Jewish assimilation by changing their outward appearance in order to become a part of Western culture. Tegel insists that despite Harlan’s seeming obliviousness to the messages suggested in the film, its intention was to demonize Jews in the film and to suggest that the only solution was to rid Germany of the Jews. He concludes by asserting that Harlan, in his quest for “authenticity,” did his part to contribute to the Final Solution.
This article helps support my thesis because even when the movie was being created, Harlan was careful not to accept just any Jew, and especially not German Jews. He wanted European Jews in particular, and those who exemplified the stereotypes commonly held of Jews. Tegel explores very specific ways in which the Jewish stereotype was used, such as with beards, sideburns, and large noses. Again, the idea of Jews as the “Other,” whose traditions and culture are seen as alien and threatening, is called upon in the portrayal of Jews in Nazi propaganda films. Understanding the concept of Jews as the "Other" helps explain how the film’s depictions of Jews worked to encourage audiences to band together against Jews. In this text, it is clear how Jews were to be portrayed negatively from the conception of the project, making Harlan's claims that it was not an anti-Semitic text during his trial post-WWII very difficult to take seriously.
Kolberg. Dir. Veit Harlan. Perf. Horst Caspar, Gustav Diessl, Heinrich George, Kurt Meisel, Kristina Soderbaum . DVD. UFA, 1945.
Kolberg is a historical epic of the Nazi film era. It is about the patriotism of the people of Kolberg during the Napoleonic wars and the importance of the average citizen. The film highlights the patriotism of Nettleback. He steps on the toes of his superiors to make sure that victory was had in Kolberg at all costs because that is what the people of Kolberg desire, for they are a proud and loyal people. The officer in charge of Kolberg’s defense is doing a poor job and conflicts with Nettelback, imprisoning Nettelback, who was merely trying to correct the deficits in Kolberg?s defenses. Nettelback sends his trusted Maria to the king to ask for a different officer for Kolberg. Maria meets with the queen and is struck speechless by the Queen’s beauty and majesty. She is successful in getting Nettelback’s request granted. The way Nettelback and the newly appointed officer work together shows how the citizens and the government can truly combine efforts for the greater good. Romance also finds its way in the film with Maria and Lieutenant Schill. The reoccurring theme throughout the film is that a citizen must be willing to sacrifice all for his country. Honor and loyalty to one’s country trump all else. This theme is illustrated in Maria and Lieutenant Schill's conversation about their willingness to sacrifice all for Kolberg and how only then would it be enough.
Joseph Goebbels, minister of propaganda, felt that Kolberg would inspire the citizens to support World War II by drawing on astounding examples of patriotism by average citizens and its great significance to Germany. Because of the importance Goebbels placed in the impact of the film, he was willing to divert many of Germany’s much needed war resources to the making of this movie, which was the one of costliest of this era. Two hundred thousand troops were used in the making of the film, troops that were taken away from battle. The cost of the film was very extravagant, and Germany really did not have the surplus of resources to accommodate such a project. Film production began in 1943 and was not completed until 1945, so the film’s impact as a source of propaganda was very minimal, considering Germany was on the brink of defeat and most of the theaters were closed from the mass destruction from the Allies’ bombings. “The film remained virtually unseen as the city fell to Soviet troops” (Thompson and Bordwell 274). Overall, Kolberg was a great folly of Goebbels and a waste of money and resources that Germany could not afford. (Thompson and Bordwell 274)
Thompson, Kristin, and David Bordwell. Film History An Introduction. 2nd. New York: McGraw Hill, 2003.