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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Old Films are Time Capsules

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Last night I watched a couple of old "propaganda" films. These were films made for the United States Military to support our own war effort. Like a lot of old films, they were interesting time capsules about America back then. I wonder how much things have changed.

One of the films was about the German invasion of the Soviet Union. This had some interest in what revealed of what the makers thought of the general knowledge of America's young men at that time.

The film extolled the Soviet Union as a peaceful land of plenty, where all of the various ethnic groups lived in harmony and were devoted to the nation as a whole. The film went out of its way to essentially say that the Soviet Union was not militarized at the time of the German invasion, but had to retool its industries for the war. It made absolute no mention of the Soviet occupation of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. No mention was made of the fact that the Soviet Union was allied with Germany in the invasion of Poland. No mention of the Soviet invasion of Finland.

Was the typical American that much in the dark about how militarized the Soviet Union was? That lacking in knowledge of the aggressive acts of the Soviets?

I cannot blame them for not having much knowledge of what was going on in the Soviet Union in terms of how its government was treating its minorities (you can look at how well they all are getting along since the Soviet Union went out of business and just how eager the Ukrainians as an example are to become subservient to Russia once more).

Another film discussed the German invasion of France, and until that film I honestly did not know that in May of 1940 the Germans had 30 armored divisions (actually, ten) and that all of their divisions were motorized (never happened, even in 1940 the infantry divisions used a lot of horses to move supplies and the troops mostly walked).

Of more amusement was the "Warner Brothers" contribution to the war effort, a series of roughly four minute long cartoons about "Private SNAFU," the worst soldier in the United States Army. They showed four of these (purportedly there were 24 of them), one of which introduced the character, one of which showed the character encountering "booby traps" in North Africa (emphasis on "boobs"), another showing  him as a target for "Malaria Mike" a.k.a. A. Mos Quito, and the last having a wish fulfilled that made him a super hero (where his incompetence leads him to almost dropping a bomb on Congress when he thought he was bombing Berlin).