The tragic tale of the Titanic was recruited by the Nazis as a propaganda vehicle. That's the claim made by the author of the new book The Third Reich’s Celluloid War.
'It’s actually hard to see how anyone could make what happened to the Titanic any more tragic, but the Nazis did,' Edinburgh-based author and film historian Ian Garden told The Scotsman this week.
Garden's new book describes how the Hitler henchmen portrayed their enemies in big budget wartime propaganda films.
'What’s interesting is how they actually turned what happened to the Titanic into an anti-British film,' Garden says. 'The film’s storyline went that the White Star Line’s share price had been falling and the only way to get it back up was to go to New York ahead of schedule, regardless of the safety of passengers or icebergs. None of that mattered, according to the film.'
'Then they introduced five German characters who had never existed in real life. One said things like ‘Watch out!’ and ‘What about the icebergs?’ and so on. Of course, the fictional Germans survived the sinking and went on to give evidence at a trial afterwards – all fiction,' Garden added.
The Nazis’ Titanic film is the chief subject of Garden's new book, which looks at how the film was by Reich propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels’ machine.
The Third Reich crafted this fictional narrative to encourage German movie fans to be believe that Hitler was doing the world a favour by attempting to crush imperialistic and brutal Britain, according to the 55 year old retired bank executive turned author.
'The British were bringing out their own movies, of course, which were also fiction, set in the war, and all very effective,' Ian adds.
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The English were consistently singled out by Nazi filmmakers as Europe's biggest oppressors and some of the films of the period portray Scots and Irish people as their victims.
Garden adds: 'There were pro-Irish films, too, which worked very well in Germany in that people identified England as a common enemy, but when they were shown in German-occupied countries like Czechoslovakia and Poland, the movie-goers there all still saw the Nazis as being their enemy.'