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Hitler Warning Film Lay In Vault For 75 Years
The first American film to warn about the rise of Adolf Hitler has been found in a vault in Belgium after lying unnoticed for 75 years.
Hitler's Reign of Terror features footage smuggled out of Germany, showing Nazi party rallies, book burnings and the ransacking of Jewish shops.
It was produced by Cornelius Vanderbilt, an heir to the wealthy US industrialist family, who visited Germany as Hitler was voted into power in 1933.
The only surviving copy was discovered among some 70,000 films in the vast vaults of the Cinematheque film archive in Brussels.
Staff believe the reel was ordered by someone who wanted to show the film in Belgium but never collected it. It survived the war, and Nazi occupation, in the Belgian customs office, and was transferred to the archive in the 1970s.
At its premiere in New York in 1934, the film was a big success, said Bruno Mestdagh, head of Cinematheque's digital collections.
"The German embassy in the US protested, so the film was censored and adapted. It was then shown in other cities but with much less success," he said.
The film has now been re-mastered and will be shown at New York's Museum of Modern Art next month.
"Vanderbilt was able to capture some spectacular footage, but he just had a few minutes and they constructed a complete film around it," said Mr Mestdagh.
"But that wasn't done by professional film-makers, so the film has a sometimes amateurish feel to it."
The film includes a brief interview Vanderbilt had with Hitler as he prepared to address a rally in Berlin's Sports Palace after winning the 1933 election.
"In the hour-and-a-half that Hitler talked to that packed audience, he was as effective as a barker at a side show, travelling with a circus," Vanderbilt says in the voiceover.
He also visits Leonding, the Austrian town where Hitler went to primary school.
"From all I could gather, he was one of the most unpopular kids in the neighbourhood. Nobody had a good word for him," he said.