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German Newsreel Clip on Hitler after the Defeat of France 1940

Walter Frentz
US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Courtesy of the Bundesarchiv

Walter Frentz worked as Adolf Hitler's cameraman from 1938 to 1945. Filming Hitler1 throughout Nazi Germany's war effort, Frentz enjoyed privileged access to Nazi leaders. His footage appeared in many German newsreels and propaganda films.2 In the early 1930s, famous director Leni Riefenstahl recruited Frentz to work as her cameraman.3 She valued his skill with a handheld camera. Beginning in 1938, Frentz traveled throughout Europe to film Hitler, sites of German occupation, and German troops at war. He created idealized, dynamic, and powerful pictures of the Third Reich. The Nazi regime used seemingly positive propaganda images to make membership in the so-called "national community" ("Volksgemeinschaft") seem appealing to "Aryan" Germans. 

The featured film is an excerpt from newsreel footage shot by Frentz on June 27, 1940. The clip shows Hitler learning about the fall of France.4 This clip shows how Frentz portrayed movement in his shots and played with perspective. Filming Hitler on a moving train, Frentz focused on the excitement of German crowds in Munich instead of just filming Hitler. Frentz believed that depicting Hitler from behind and showing the scene from the leader's perspective would make the scene more exciting to viewers.

After the war, Frentz defended his contributions to the propaganda of the Third Reich. He claimed that he was a professional artist who had only reproduced what he had seen. He argued that it was his job as an artist to create good pictures. Frentz never joined the Nazi Party, but his images still made important contributions to the visual power of Nazi propaganda. Frentz's images helped Nazi propagandists portray Hitler and other influential Nazis as heroic and decisive leaders while hiding the ugly realities of life under Nazi rule.5

Images of Hitler were ever-present in Nazi society, from films to postcards. See the related Experiencing History items, Film of Hilter Postcards on Display and Cigarette Card with Image of Hitler Receiving Flowers.

Newsreels were a common source of infromation for the general public during World War II, usually updated each week and screened before popular films in movie theaters. For more on Nazi propaganda, see Susan D. Bachrach and Steven Luckert, State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda (US Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2009); and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum's online exhibition, State of Deception. For more primary sources on Nazi propaganda methods, see the Experiencing History collection, Nazi Propaganda and National Unity.

Frentz shot three films with Riefenstahl between 1933 and 1936: Victory of the Faith (1933), Triumph of the Will (1934), and Olympia (1936). 

In an interview for a film called The Eye of the Third Reich, Frentz stated that he tried to catch Hitler's less staged moments. Frentz claimed that he was even given information about the war before Hitler was—including the military surrender of France—so that he could be ready to record Hitler's reactions. The Eye of the Third Reich, directed by Jürgen Stumphaus (New York: First Run/Icarus Films, 1995). 

David Crew, "Visual Power?: The Politics of Images in Twentieth Century Germany and Austria-Hungary," German History 27, no. 2, 278. Crew quotes from Das Auge des Dritten Reiches: Hitlers Kamermann und Fotograf Walter Frentz, ed. Hans Georg Hill von Gaertringen (Berlin: Deutsche Kunstverlag, 2007). 

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Nach der Kapitulationserklärung General Pétains legt Generaloberst Keitel die Einladung für den Duce nach München zur Unterschrift vor. Ein geschichtlicher Sieg ist errungen. Frankreichs Armeen sind zerschlagen. Der Führer auf der Fahrt nach München. Überall jubelt ihm ein dankbares Volk entgegen. Auf der Fahrt zum Führerbau. Vom Balkon des Führerbaus grüßen der Duce und der Führer die begeisterte Menge. In der folgenden Aussprache einigten sich der Führer und der Duce über die Stellungnahme der beiden verbündeten Regierungen zu den französischen Waffenstillstandsgesuchen.


After the declaration of surrender by General Pétain, Generaloberst Keitel submits for signature the invitation for the Duce to come to Munich. A historic victory has been achieved. France's armies are defeated. The Führer on the way to Munich. Everywhere, a grateful nation greets him with cheers of acclaim. On the way to the Führerbau [German: "the Führer's building"]. From the balcony of the Führerbau, the Duce and the Führer greet the enthusiastic crowd. During the following talk, the Führer and the Duce reached an agreement on the attitude to be assumed by the two allied governments towards the French requests for an armistice.

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Courtesy of the Bundesarchiv
RG Number 60.3896
Date Created
June 27, 1940
Duration 00:02:24
Sound Yes
Videographer / Creator
Walter Frentz
Munich, Germany
Moving Image Type Newsreel
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