American Propaganda from the World War II Era and on, a look into the long-standing and close relationship between Hollywood and the Government.
The Secret Life of Adolf Hitler (1958)
Westbrook Van Vorhees narrates this 1958 television documentary about the nazi regime.
The Secret Life of Adolph Hitler is a 1950's television documentary special that includes interviews with Hitler's sister Paula Wolf and a fellow prisoner who was incarcerated with Hitler, actual footage shot by the Nazi's and Eva Braun's rare home movies.
Director: Walter D. Engels
The Last Bomb (1945)
Documentary of the planning and delivery of the last great bomber attack on the city of Tokyo by the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II.
Director: Frank Lloyd
My Japan (1945)
CONTENT ADVISORY: Explicit racism and Violence.
Complex and disturbing anti-Japanese propaganda film produced to spur the sale of U.S. war bonds.
Published by the U.S. Treasury Department-
Prepared for the 7th War Loan, 1945.Ken Smith sez: This World War II film operates on a number of very strange conceptual levels. A caucasian actor -- made to look Japanese -- sits behind a desk and tells us that Americans have many misconceptions about the Japanese people (for example, that a Japanese actor would willingly play this role). "We don't have big teeth and thick glasses," he hisses through his taped-back cheeks. He then proceeds to show us what Japan and the Japanese are REALLY like."You think you can defeat us by wiping out a few, inexpensive lives," he snickers. "We are not like you!" As we are shown what the narrator claims is captured Japanese war footage, we are told that that the Japanese people are brutally "realistic," and willing to sacrifice everything for their ultimate goal -- "to win the war."The narrator mocks Americans as being too soft -- a nation of dreamers. "We think you're stupid!" he snorts. "You can destroy Japan's cities with your bombs, but you cannot destroy its heart!"Were the producers of this film trying to create an American version of Japanese propaganda? Or were they told to create something that would justify (at least in the public's mind) America's anticipated bloody invasion of Japan? Whatever its makers' intentions, My Japan stands as a unique -- and decidedly racist -- film.My Japan, one of the most unusual documentary films ever made, dares to question America's invincibility. But I wonder whether in fact it's the unheralded first film of the atomic age. Is it too far out to imagine that its real purpose was to desensitize Americans to the horrors of the A-bomb? By citing American weaknesses and vulnerabilities and seeming to praise Japanese patriotism, strength and resolve, it challenges Americans to support a strategy of total war. Its stealthy assertion: that the Japanese military machine will not be broken without an unprecedented effort. It supports this assertion by presenting highly charged and emotional images with an bogus "insider" narration that is at once deceptive and inflammatory.My Japan is constructed largely from newsreel film, combat photography and captured Japanese images. To most of us today, it all looks pretty much like old black-and-white stock footage. What we don't remember is the power that many of its images used to carry in the public mind. During World War II, images of the Japanese siege of Nanking, China were often used to inflame anti-Japanese passions. Shots of the attack on Pearl Harbor fulfilled the same function; at the war's outset they were embargoed by American authorities, who feared the consequences of showing images of an America caught unawares and defeated. When it later became possible to recontextualize Pearl Harbor as a focus of anger and popular vengeance, the shots were seen over and over again. Unlike many other World War II propaganda films, My Japan shows actual atrocities -- executions, beheaded heads and bodies, the stumps of severed limbs. The mobilization of all of these inflammatory images, and more, supports the idea that this film advocates total war against Japan."So...you are the enemy...". How many films begin so provocatively? War creates, and then is sustained by, two levels of enemies. One, the actual military opponent on the battlefield, constructs itself. The other level of enemy, the dehumanized "Other," is a creation of our own minds, often aided by propaganda. Constructing an enemy is a sophisticated effort that employs crude tactics: ignorance, oversimplification, and simplistic appeals to patriotism. And patriotism itself often draws strength from the existence of a constructed enemy. Wartime media show the pervasiveness of this process; the evidence is on this disc in the Archives section under "Constructing an Enemy." Advertisements similar to those shown in that supplement were deemed too sensitive to include in Life magazine's recent reprints of some 1945 issues. A review of Gulf War news coverage will show, however, that this process is still in fashion.It's understandable, whether or not justifiable, that warring nations divide the world into allies and enemies. But the "enemy" as pictured in My Japan is more than simply an opposing army. "You cannot destroy Japan," says the narrator in his ersatz accent, "because you cannot destroy the Japanese people." And the Japanese people are, in the film's twisted way, pictured as an inhuman race, without compassion, and described as tireless, fanatical workers who lack the desire and capacity for leisure and enjoyment. "They work longer hours than you do, twice as long, quite often. Why not? They're not working for the clock. They're working to win the war." But these characterizations of an enemy are not based on any kind of reality. Rather, they are created in relation to some supposed American weaknesses: "How we suffer when you do not have a full tank of gasoline. How devastated we are at the sight of you jammed into pleasure trains. How we tremble when you have to wait to get into the movies, restaurants and nightclubs....You are a nation of bargain-hunters." Our anger at finding ourselves too materialistic and selfish is invoked so that it can be turned against the enemy of the moment.
My Japan adopts the pretense that the "Japanese" narrator is confiding in us, telling us secrets, exposing the true nature of his society. "Captured Japanese film" is invoked, furthering the "insider" feeling. It pretends to be a critique of popular consciousness, to deconstruct a myth. "How sad to disillusion you...and how easy, easy because you do not know the Japanese, you only think you do, and you're wrong.""We are Japan -- a mountain, a spiderweb, a flame that feeds on hate of you." My Japan charges the Japanese with atrocious conduct, but is itself charged with viciousness and brutality, both in the images it presents and in the way it's edited. Its producers (whose identities are unknown) were skilled polemicists, geniuses who, in their own way, were as evilly minded as the killers represented in the footage.Ultimately, My Japan sets the stage for total war. It implies that nothing less will be sufficient to defeat an enemy like Japan. And this is the argument that was invoked to support the decision to drop the atomic bomb; an argument that resurfaced in summer 1995 around an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution recalling the bomber Enola Gay. We cannot know whether My Japan's producers were privy to the secrets of the Manhattan Project, but we can assert that propagandists bear as much responsibility as generals.
Narr. by Milton S. Eisenhower, director of the War Relocation Authority. An historical record of the transfer of Japanese residents from the Pacific Coast to the American Interior as carried out the the U.S. Army and the War Relocation Authority. 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of them American citizens. Special attention given to possibility of sabotage & espionage.
"Japanese themselves cheerfully handled the enormous paperwork involved." Alludes to the auctioning of personal property by government agencies and businessmen, saying that it "often involved financial sacrifice for the evacuees." Narration says that evacuees "cooperated wholeheartedly," noting that "the many loyal among them felt that this was a sacrifice that they could make in behalf of America's war effort."
Bus and private car caravans, shopkeepers' stores, homes, restaurants, fishing boats are shown. Temporary quarters were in "assembly centers," at race tracks , and fair grounds. San Anita (sp.?) race track , a community of 17,000.
Depicts camp life: cafeteria, church services, nursery schools, people engaged in war-related work (making camouflage nets for army). Building new quarters in the desert for the final movement to the relocation camps. Smiling Japanese people being carted off on trains. Medical facilities, Americanization classes, schools, internal government, barracks-style housing, irrigation projects in desert.
Some evacuees were "permitted" to become fieldhands in sugar beet fields under appropriate safeguards. Describes the goal of the relocation as achieved when "all adult hands" are engaged in "productive work on public land or in private employment." And when "the disloyal have left this country for good."
Relocation seen as a humane act "setting the standard for the rest of the world in the treatment of people who may have loyalties to an enemy nation, protecting ourselves without violating the principles of Christian decency."
- San Pedro, CA
Bombing of Pearl Harbor
Propaganda used to insight fear and resentment toward Japanese people among Americans, these newsreels were used to insight anger among the American population in order to garner the public support needed to enter WWII.
The New Spirit
by Walt Disney Studios
Propaganda for Children
In 1942 Walt Disney Studios created this short film for the US Treasury Department.
Donald Duck learns that his tax dollars are going toward the war effort.
It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1943 for Best Documentary.
In 1941 Walt Disney produced this short film, which promotes Canadian War Bonds, for the Canadian government.