Roger Moorhouse on a controversial historical DVD being reissued.
When the film Swastika was first shown in 1973 there was a minor controversy; viewers were outraged and cushions were thrown at the Cannes Film Festival.
Essentially a by-product of an aborted project to bring Albert Speer’s Inside the Third Reich to the big screen, Swastika began life as a collection of newsreel and propaganda images gleaned from archives all over the world. This material was then augmented by the discovery of what might be called Eva Braun’s ‘home movies’ depicting, in glorious colour, the elite of the Third Reich at play at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden.
The film, now released as a DVD, therefore, is really two films rolled into one. On the one hand, Eva Braun’s material gives viewers a glimpse into the inner sanctum of Hitler’s court, showing everyday life there: tea on the terrace, dogs and children frolicking, walks in the hills. Hitler appears less a dictator than a grumpy, well-to-do businessman with a curious moustache and a coquettish mistress.