In 1939, the film was re-released with two major changes: the first was the addition of a voice-over narration comparing the WWI German soldiers depicted quite favorably to the Nazi army that had just begun to sweep across Europe. The second change was the addition of a new scene at the end, showing Nazis burning books -- including the one on which the film is based.
Re-issue prints (particularly for 1940's and later TV releases) were cut by some 35 minutes and the soundtrack altered by the distributor, especially during the final sequence where music was added contrary to director Lewis Milestone's wishes. In 1980, before his death, Milestone asked Universal to restore the film and remove the music to the final scene. In 1998, about 30 minutes were reinstated to resemble the original 1930 cut, and Milestone's wishes were finally honored.
The silent (synchronized sound, non-dialogue) version is 133 minutes long and was restored by the Library of Congress. It was prepared for Universal's own cinemas (they were one of the last exhibitors to convert to sound) and shown in France and Australia and possibly elsewhere, but never in Britain until Sunday 23 November 2003.
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