from film threat: From 1935 through 1944, Nazi Germany took the unexpected lead in the development of television broadcasting. While the reach of the Nazi television was relatively limited – mostly to the political elite in Berlin and to Army hospitals – the new medium nonetheless found a diverse amount of programming ranging from cabaret-style entertainment to cooking shows to the tried-and-true propaganda posturing.
Michael Kloft’s documentary “Television Under the Swastika” provides a brief overview of the Nazi foray into television programming. Surprisingly, a great deal of 35mm films used for the broadcasts still survive, though no footage of the live telecasts survive from that pre-kinescope era...
But despite the frequent awfulness of the programming, this documentary provides a fascinating look at how the Nazis quickly recognized television’s power and tried to manipulate it for their devious purposes. For anyone interested in 20th-century German history and in the development of television as the most powerful mass media of the modern world, “Television Under the Swastika” provides an invaluable journey into the very unusual early days of television's rise.
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