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The Hitler Gang

The Hitler Gang(1944)

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The film's opening credits consist of the main title and the following written foreword: "In 1918 the Germans, facing annihilation, surrendered to the Allies. But there were men among them who did not acknowledge defeat. Before the last shot was fired, they were already planning for the next world war. This is the story of those men. Shocking though it May be, it is based on fact. The episodes throughout are authenticated by documentary records, by the works of reputable historians, and in some instances by actual participants. In every detail it is true insofar as decency will permit." All other production credits appear at the end of the film.
       Paramount billed The Hitler Gang as a "documentary-propaganda" film, and while the historical record reflects that the picture's depiction of Hitler's rise to power is presented with reasonable accuracy, various inaccuracies and interpretations May also be included. During his campaign of conquest in World War II, Hitler ordered the methodical massacre of over six million Jews and other political enemies. He committed suicide in 1945 when the Russians invaded Berlin, and Germany faced defeat. Twenty-four of his surviving associates, in addition to various organizations, were indicted as war criminals by the International Military Tribunal.
       New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther, noted that the "film is of questionable worth as a document for mass instruction in the political facts of Germany. For the emphasis in this picture is so heavily upon the 'Hitler gang' and upon the inside intrigues by which it gained and held its power, that the impression conveyed is that these leaders are entirely responsible for the Nazi state....'The Hitler Gang' is cut very much to the pattern of some of our early and better gangster films....Paramount has taken a popular though misleading line in treating National Socialism in the elementary terms of an American gang. It means that the grave responsibility of the German citizens for what they have allowed has been neatly tossed onto the shoulders of a few ruffians, Army officers and industrialists." Crowther concluded that the film "is a dangerously limited statement of the facts." Likewise, the Catholic newspaper Tidings complained that the film suggests that "Hitler's wrath against the Jews originated in political expediency and that he might as easily and readily have begun a war of extermination against the Catholics," and also noted that "Hitler's alleged designs upon his young niece....would seem difficult if not impossible, to prove."
       According to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, pre-production began in March 1943, during which time extensive research was conducted to provide factual documentation for the film. Other information in the collection reveals that Claude Rains was considered for the role of Adolf Hitler, and that Kurt Kreuger was originally cast as Reinhard Heydrich. Hollywood Reporter news items add the following information about the production: Alexander Knox and Orson Welles were tested for the role of Hitler, Albert Basserman was considered for the role of Paul von Hindenburg, and Porter Hall was initially cast as Heinrich Himmler. Paramount utilized contemporary newsreel footage, some of which May have been drawn from the Museum of Modern Art collection, for specific historical scenes in this film. Paramount News items noted that the studio purchased two rooms from the New York Hearst Collection to use as industrialist Alfred Hugenberg's library, and that a large painting depicting the glories of Prussianism was designed for the film by Franz Bachelin, and painted by artists Benno Prival and P. T. Blackburn. Some scenes were shot at Warner Bros. studios, at the Los Angeles YMCA, and on location in Elysian Park and the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA. Variety lists the running time as 101 minutes, but this length is probably an error.