862.4061 All Quiet/10

The Ambassador in Germany (Sackett) to the Secretary of State

No. 1135

Sir: With reference to my despatch No. 654, of December 17, 1930, and to further correspondence relative to the disturbance caused in Germany by the showing and subsequent prohibition of Eric Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front,” I have the honor to report that the Bureau of Film Censorship in Berlin, on September 2nd, released this film for unrestricted public exhibition in Germany, although the showings have not yet commenced. The reversal of the authorities’ decision was made after the deletion of a few scenes and the receipt of a letter from Mr. Laemmle, the head of the American Universal Pictures Corporation, in which he stated that his company had decided to adopt the expurgated German version for presentation henceforward in the whole world.

The Department will recall that the disturbances which the film caused in Berlin and other German cities on its first being shown here were arranged by members of the Nazi Party, foremost among these being the Reichstag Deputy Dr. Goebbels, and in view of this fact the present reaction of the chief Nazi organ, the Voelkischer Beobachter, is of interest as giving some indication of the reception the production is likely to experience when it is again shown in Germany. On September 4th, this paper greeted the action of the Bureau of Film Censorship with a violent tirade against the film and remarked that the fact that it had now been released was a symptom of present day conditions, namely, of the predominant Jewish influence in Germany. However, in view of the strong language daily employed by this sheet, this statement is not surprising, but it may be assumed that no further disturbances are as yet planned, as it went on to say that the German people were now too low-spirited and exhausted to oppose this insult to their men who had fought in the world war.

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Comment in the moderate press was by no means as extensive as at the time of the disturbances caused by the first showing, which, of course, had much greater news value than the present release.

From a broad point of view the present action may be regarded as indicating that the authorities no longer feel bound to make concessions to the Nazis as they did shortly after the successes of the radicals in the elections to the Reichstag in November, 1930.31 The chief present significance of the whole affair is that of a straw which shows which way the wind is blowing.

Respectfully yours,

Frederic M. Sackett