Stanley Kubrick's Surprising Connection To The Nazi Germany Film Industry

"The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never escape from it," Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels once said (via AZ Quotes). Throughout his tenure as Hitler's henchman, Goebbels augmented the Nazi party's diabolical crusade using little more than a camera lens and persuasive narrative tactics in the form of moving pictures. Media and cinema were pivotal to the fascist regime's infectious proliferation, and nobody recognized that better than Goebbels (via Britannica). 

Despite their common trade, it might seem strange to mention renowned filmmaker Stanley Kubrick in conjunction with one so reviled as Joseph Goebbels. The two specialized in vastly different realms of cinema, and if you didn't already know, the former wasn't affiliated with the Nazi party at all. In stark contrast to Goebbels, Kubrick was Jewish. According to The Village Voice, Stanley Kubrick was brought up within a primarily Jewish neighborhood in a small section of the Bronx, and while his personal inclinations toward spirituality grew more secular throughout his life, those communal roots from whence he sprung remained strong. Ergo, you'd probably be shocked to discover that the "2001: A Space Odyssey" director actually had a direct link to Nazi cinema through his third wife, Christiane Kubrick. 

Kubrick's uncle-in-law was a Nazi filmmaker

While he never became acquainted with Joseph Goebbels at any point in time (as far as we know), Stanley Kubrick was actually a direct affiliate of one Veit Harlan, a Nazi-era filmmaker and the uncle of his wife, Christiane. Harlan (1899-1964) was the director of several notable pictures, including the infamous anti-semitic historical drama "Jud Süss" (1940) that grew wildly popular amongst SS soldiers. According to The Village Voice, "Jud Süss" became one of the fascist regime's most prolific and noteworthy propaganda films, even earning itself an award at the Venice Film Festival after its release. 

Following the film's infamous release and the ultimate downfall of the Nazi party, Harlan stood trial two separate times for his cinematic exploits and previous affiliations with Hitler's ideological progeny (per Oxford Academic). Little is known about the personal relationship that may or may not have developed between Kubrick and Harlan over the years, but the two reportedly were in talks of producing a film together at one point. However, it never actually came to fruition, nor was Harlan ever delivered any form of legal conviction before his death in 1964 (via The Village Voice). 

Who was Veit Harlan?

According to Zeitgeist Films, Veit Harlan directed twenty different films on behalf of the Nazi party and the Third Reich. Ten more would follow once the Federal Republic of Germany usurped Hitler's condemned influence over the country. While most of his films were geared toward augmenting anti-Jewish attitudes during World War II ("Jud Süss" was required viewing for SS soldiers), his later pictures reportedly aligned themselves against homosexuals and women. Goebbels crowned Harlan his favorite director and most prized asset within the propaganda movement. 

For a time, Veit Harlan was a widely acclaimed director in European cinema. His films sold out theaters across the continent, and critics raved over his achievements on screen. He married Swedish actress Kristina Söderbaum and made her the central talent in several of his films over the years ("The Golden City," "The Great Sacrifice"). Today, his work is more or less disavowed in Germany and across the world, and his legacy is viewed as little more than a shameful extension of a distant and terrible time when tyranny reigned supreme over human rights (via Zeitgeist Films). 

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