Veit Harlan

Active - 1929 - 1959  |   Born - Sep 22, 1899 in Berlin  |   Genres - Drama, Romance

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Veit Harlan was a notorious filmmaker who created Nazi propaganda feature films during WW II. His most famous film was Jud Süss a cruel anti-Semitic story filled with vicious stereotypes of Jews. He got his start in German cinema in 1927 as an actor and made his directorial debut in 1934. After many of the country's best filmmakers fled the country, Goebbels embraced him and under his watchful eye, Harlan began his cycle of pro-Nazi films. Most of them were historical epics loaded with sentiment and allegorical references to the justness of the Third Reich's cause. Looking back, much of his work is considered emotionally overwrought and pretentious propaganda at its worst, but Jud Süss was a different kettle of fish. The Leon Feuchtwanger novel on which the story was based was actually sympathetic to the plight of the ghetto-bound Jews. But Veidt turned it around by presenting the Jewish people in such a negative light that the Nazis' efforts to ethnically cleanse Germany seemed justified. Such negative stereotyping as justification for racism is a film ploy that has been used in the cinema of many countries, including the U.S., but in 1950, following the war, the time when the House Committee for Un-American Activities was busy persecuting American film personalities, Harlan was tried in world court and acquitted for disseminating Nazi propaganda. After that he continued directing through 1962.

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