Jews, Nazis, and the Cinema of Hungary: The Tragedy of Success, 1929-44
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Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)
Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, History
Between 1929 and 1942, Hungary’s motion picture industry experienced meteoric growth. It leapt into Europe’s top echelon, trailing only Nazi Germany and Italy in feature output. This robustness inspired Hungarian intellectuals to predict that film would help their kingdom regain its rightful place as one of Europe’s leading Kulturnationen. This became the holy grail of Hungarian cultural politics—to produce a cohesive, attractive and exportable national culture that would allow Hungary not only to recapture the prestige and power lost in the post-Great War settlements while also uniting all ethnic Hungarians. Yet by 1944, Hungary’s cinema was in shambles, its unification experiments and its productive capacity destroyed by a combination of internecine conflict and external influences it had no hope of controlling. This cultural and political history examines the birth, unexpected ascendance, and wartime collapse of Hungary’s early sound cinema by placing it within a complex international nexus. Detailing the interplay of Hungarian cultural and political elites, Jewish film professionals and financiers, Nazi officials, and global film moguls, Frey demonstrates how the transnational process of forging an industry designed to define a national culture proved particularly contentious and surprisingly contradictory in the heyday of racial nationalism and antisemitism.
Antisemitism, Jewish film, Hungary
Frey, David, "Jews, Nazis, and the Cinema of Hungary: The Tragedy of Success, 1929-44" (2017). West Point Books. 3.
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