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The first and one of the most important books on the cinema I read.

Ernst Zundel came to see TRIUMPH OF THE WILL when I screened it at The Bathurst Street United Church in the 1970s and the 1980s.

Ernst Zundel died last week. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/07/world/europe/ernst-zundel-canada-germany-holocaust-denial.html

While I never met the man personally he did come to the first screening I did at The Bathurst Street United Church of Leni Riefenstahl’s film of Adolf Hitler’s 1934 Nuremberg Rally, TRIUMPH OF THE WILL.

I had screened the film at Rochdale College before that. Rochdale’s reputation acted as a terrific filter. Not many came to see the film there.

Thus I was surprised when a huge crowd showed up to see the film the first time I screened it at The Bathurst Street United Church when I moved my program there after finding out that a drug dealer in Rochdale had ordered a hit on me because he wanted to open a fine dining restaurant in the space I used for my screenings.

Dope is aptly named as it makes dopes out of those who use it. I knew that no one outside Rochdale would go there to fine dine while people in Rochdale, no matter how stoned they might be, when they wanted to fine dine were not going to do it in Rochdale.

Rochdale had begun in 1968 as the boldest experiment ever undertaken in alternate education. The most radical aspect was that the authorities decided to allow within Rochdale the use of hashish, LSD, marijuana, mescaline and peyote. Not all the people who provided these things were dopes, of course. LSD, in particular, sharpens the mind. Hashish and pot puts us in a head space where we can hear and see with a clarity our normal senses do not provide.

Robert Herring, one of the best teachers I had, after I had shown my 8mm print of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film, METROPOLIS to him and some friends in Sault Ste. Marie where I lived briefly, had given me a copy of a book that was to deeply affect my thinking about the movies. The book was titled FROM CALIGARI TO HITLER. Written by Dr. Seigfreid Kracauer it is a psychological study of German film from 1919 through to 1934. By the way, one of Bob Herring’s friends in the Sault was a woman who had been a star in German silent films. When she and her husband found I had the film they wanted to see it.

I was 17 when I read from the book. I determined to see as many of the films written about in it as possible.

The film TRIUMPH OF THE WILL (1935) fell into the public domain. I was able to buy a 16mm print of it.

My screenings primarily are offered as education tools for those who wish to use them.

Jerzy Zaborski, an archaeologist, Egyptologist, Sumerologist and Tibetan Lama who had accompanied The Dalai Lama on his first journey across Canada, introduced himself to me after a presentation he had come to see on the Sumerian Epic Of Gilgamesh I give now and then said to me, “This place is like a university. People can learn here.”

I replied, “Some do. Most do not.”

The Honourable John Roberts P.C. said in 2000 when he came to see another film I had read about in FROM CALIGARI TO HITLER, the G. W. Pabst film of Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht’s THE THREEPENNY OPERA, “You have been doing great work for the art and culture of this country.”

Again I replied, “Some see it that way. Most do not. What do you do?”

He gave me his card. I found out he had been attending my programs since Rochdale College.

This was all in the future that night in the 1970s when my first screening of TRIUMPH OF THE WILL played to a capacity crowd at The Bathurst Street United Church.

To my shock when Hitler’s plane landed at Nuremberg and he walked down the ramp most of the people stood up and gave a Nazi salute.

The biggest ones were back by the projector where I was.

I knew that if I stopped the film there would be a riot. I knew I would get beaten up. I knew the projector and the film would be stolen.

I let the moment pass.

I had the film scheduled for another showing the next week. This time I got up in front of the audience. I introduced myself. Then I spoke for about half an hour.

This time no one stood up. No one gave a Nazi salute.

What did happen was that several people introduced themselves to me after the presentation. The spokesman for them said, “We are from The Ontario Human Rights Association. We are here because we received complaints about your presentation of this film. You are doing good work. Keep it up.”

The next week I was visited by members of The Toronto Police. They were there because they too had received a complaint. Again, after witnessing the program, they said, “You are doing good work. Keep it up.”

Then something happened I had not anticipated.

Many people spoke with me after the program. All of them were men and women who had lived and suffered under Adolf Hitler. They had come to see how it all had started. In many instances they brought their children.

One man told me he had been released from a concentration camp on his birthday. I said, “That was a Hell of a Birthday present.”

He said, “You know in all these years I had never thought of it that way.”

Because the people coming to see the film were among the most interesting I had ever met and because I was learning so much from these people who had been witnesses to that moment I continued the screenings.

The Bathurst Street Church got many complaints about the presentation.

I began my programs anew at The Bathurst Street United Church in the 1980s where I ran my program for quite a long time. Emo Philips, then in his salad days at Yuk Yuk’s, was I found later a regular.

These screenings were particularly profitable intellectually.

One woman came to see the film week after week after week.

I could see someone coming a couple of times but this got my attention. Around the 15th week I asked her why she was coming. I thought perhaps she was a Nazi.

She was not.

Her reply staggered me.

She said, “I am in it.”

She explained that she had been a small child in Nuremberg when Hitler came to the city in 1934. The first time she saw the film she saw herself, her father, her mother, her sisters, her brothers leaning out of a window waving Nazi flags as Hitler rode by.

She was Jewish. Her entire family had perished under Hitler. She had no pictures of them. She came every week for those few brief seconds she could again see them.

Humbled by her answer I moved back respecting her space.

That week I realized I should offer to have those frames enlarged so that she could have photographs. I determined to do that. I was not able to. She never returned.

I continually did research.

I found out that one of Adolf Hitler’s nicknames was the “Teppichfresser.”

The word means “carpet chewer.”

William Shirer wrote about this in his 1941 book Berlin Diary.  

This quote is from his diary:

Sept. 22, 1938. This morning, I noticed something very interesting. I was having breakfast in the garden of the Dresen Hotel, where Hitler is stopping, when the great man suddenly appeared, strode past me, and went down to the edge of the Rhine to inspect his river yacht.

[…]

I think [Hitler] is on the edge of a nervous breakdown. And now I understand the meaning of an expression the party hacks were using when we sat around drinking in the Dressen last night. They kept talking about the “Teppichfresser”‘, the “carpet-eater”.  At first I didn’t get it, and then someone explained it in a whisper. They said, Hitler has been having some of his nervous crises lately and that in recent days they’ve taken a strange form. Whenever he goes on a rampage about Benes or the Czechs he flings himself to the floor and chews the edges of the carpet hence the Teppichfresser. After seeing him this morning, I can believe it.

Shirer later included this story in his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich which was first published in 1961.

Here is the exact quote from page 391 of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:

“Hitler was in a highly nervous state. On the morning of the twenty-second [of September 1938] I was having breakfast on the terrace of the Hotel Dressen, where the talks were to take place, when Hitler strode past on his way down to the riverbank to inspect his yacht. He seemed to have a peculiar tic. Every few steps he cocked his right shoulder nervously, his left leg snapping up as he did so. He had ugly, black patches under his eyes. He seemed to be, as I noted in my diary [Berlin Dairy] that evening, on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

“Teppichfresser!” muttered my German companion, an editor who secretly despised the Nazis. And he explained that Hitler had been in such a maniacal mood over the Czechs the last few days that on more than one occasion he had lost control of himself completely, hurling himself to the floor and chewing the edge of the carpet. Hence the term “carpet eater.” The evening before, while talking with some of the party leaders at the Dressen, I had heard the expression applied to the Fuehrer — in whispers, of course.”

The quote above is from Chapter 12, The Road to Munich.  The sub heading is Chamberlain at Godesberg: September 22-23.  This section of Shirer’s book begins with this explanation of what is happening:

Though Chamberlain was bringing to Hitler all that he had asked for at their Berchtesgaden meeting, both men were uneasy as they met at the little Rhine town of Godesberg on the afternoon of September 22nd.

So both Hitler and Neville Chamberlian were “uneasy.”  Shirer wrote that it was “an editor who secretly despised the Nazis,” who told him about Hitler’s habits.  I wonder what the editor who despised the Nazis said about Chamberlain.  If we only knew his name, maybe we could ask him.

According to Mr. Stolpmann, who is a native German speaker, the term Teppichfresser has no other meaning. It is not like the English expression “chewing the fat,” which does not mean literally chewing fat.  However, the German language has two different words for eat:  essen and fressen.  The word “fressen” is used to refer to the way an animal eats, and when used in reference to a human, it is a grave insult.

Hitler was from Austria, where the natives are noted for their nice table manners.  To call an Austrian a “fresser” would be the worst possible insult.  I once went on a guided tour of Austria, and the guide felt the need to tell me (a boorish American) to watch my table manners while in Austria.

I told that story several weeks in a row. One night I thought to myself, “You have seen a grown man throw a tantrum. Why don’t you act it out?”

There was a carpet on the floor. I got down, acted out the tantrum I had witnessed (that in itself is a terrifying thing to see) and mimicked chewing the carpet.

The place was packed.

At the rear one man rose, screamed, “The Fuhrer was never like that!” He ran out into the night.

I said, “Ahh! We got one!”

A few weeks later I met Sir Peter Ustinov. I said to him, “I have a story I would like to share with you.”

After hearing me out Ustinov said, “Thank you. That is a marvelous story. That is how you winkle out the bastards!”

The years passed.

In the 1990s a young man dropped by. He was in shock. He had just been thrown out by his then girlfriend. He said, “I have no lace to live. Where am I going to live?”

I said, “I have room for you.”

After he had lived here a while he told me that he had been one of those sucked in by Ernst Zundel. He told me that Zundel used to send people to see the film of Hitler’s 1934 Nuremberg rally when I screened it but he stopped doing it because after they saw my program they did not return to Zundel. Zundel stopped sending them because he was losing too many of them.

That was the finest possible thing to hear.

This fellow (who died last summer) was also a bike mechanic. He was one of the best in the city. For a brief period he worked for the man who has been doing his best to get me murdered with street posters over the years. He quit when he found out the man was stealing bikes.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/toronto-alternative-theatre-founder-stands-up-to-bullying-threats/article549053/

In Jerry Mander’s FOUR ARGUMENTS FOR THE ELIMINATION OF TELEVISION (which I was given by a man who had come to The Cineforum to see the Nuremberg film) Mander writes that documentary films have no power to move an audience to act. “That only happens when people have personal contact with a speaker,” Mander wrote.

When Katharine Hepburn left home to become an actress she was invited to join the prestigious GROUP THEATER. She replied, “I want no part of the group dynamic. The group dynamic by nature is always second rate.”

She is right.

The secret to Adolf Hitler’s power is that he knew most people will look for the excuse to do nothing.

They say, “This storm will pass.” They say, “I am only one person. What can I do?”

I have always known that the group dynamic is the dynamic of the coward. The biggest coward is always at the center.

Justin Bieber has taken the path that seems right to men but which leads to death.

Most of the world has taken that path.

Poet Alden Nowlan writes about the path the world rejects in his poem, THE RITES OF MANHOOD.

Robert Frost wrote about it in THE ROAD LESS TAKEN.

My current councilman, Joe Cressy, when running for office, stepped in. He said, “Reg, I have seen those posters [attacking you]. They are hate. Why aren’t the police doing something?”

I told him, “The police are doing what they can. When you get in office YOU do something. Not for me. For everyone.”

Joe has done nothing.

That’s fine. We do not gather grapes from thistles.

“My mother loved you,” Jane Jacobs’ son James has told me again and again.

“I love your mother,” I replied.

I first met Jane Jacobs the year she arrived in Toronto, 1968.

She was a regular at my programs until her health no longer allowed it. After that I kept her informed. I dropped by to visit. I took her to see the film CHICAGO. She loved it. When I brought her home she invited me in for coffee. Inside she pulled a couple of beers out of the fridge. By the third one she said out of the blue, “The best part of what you offer is what you have to say.”

“Hearing that from you is better than receiving an Academy Award,” I replied.

She said, “I would not say that.”

I told her, “I know the caliber of the people who vote on those things. I would.”

I learned a lot from Jane Jacobs. The most important thing I learned was to stand up for the helpless.

A few years back I saw flyers posted all over Toronto designed to incite street people to murder a man they labelled as a police informant:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=an6wuSoPjlc .

The man they were tar getting had briefly worked for me. He had said, “Let me post flyers for you on Queen Street. I can use the money.”

I did.

After a month he said, “I can’t work for you. I have been offered more money.”

Then he began to tear down my flyers. He said, “I am sorry but the man I am working for told me to tear down your flyers.”

That lasted for quite a long time.

Then one day he asked if he could post flyers for me again as the man he had worked for owed him a lot of money and he had finally quit.

I said, “No. I will post them myself. Too bad you got ripped off.”

The flyers smearing that fellow were put up to get street people to kill him. Why? So that the man he had worked for would not have to pay him the money he owed him.

Henry Miller wrote in AN OPEN LETTER TO SURREALISTS EVERYWHERE, “…When at last each man realizes that nothing is to be expected from God, or society, or friends, or benevolent tyrants, or democratic governments, or saints, or saviours, or even that holiest of holies, education, when each man realizes that he must work with his own hands to save himself, and that we need expect no mercy, perhaps then…Perhaps! Even then, seeing what manner of men we are, I doubt. The point is that we are doomed…No God is coming to save us. No system of government, no belief will provide us with that liberty and justice  which men whistle for with the death-rattle….What distinguishes the majority of men from the few is their inability to act according to their beliefs. The hero is he who raises himself above the crowd…To get men to rally round a cause, a belief, an idea, is always easier than to persuade them to live their own lives.”

I had only one reason to stand up for that man. Nothing he had done (or has done) warranted my standing up for him. In fact, he had given me reason enough to leave him to the fate the man behind the posters wished for him.

That one reason came from three remarkable American women who had made Toronto their home. Those women were Judith Merril (the mother of modern science/speculative fiction whom I had met in 1968 at Rochdale College), Doris Mehegan (who was the head librarian of THE SPACED OUT LIBRARY (Now the Merril Collection) and Jane Jacobs (author of THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES) whom I had met the same year I met Judy, 1968.

These three women taught the importance of standing up for those no one else will stand up for. Who are they? Read THE LAST JUDGEMENT in MATTHEW’S GOSPEL. It will show you how far removed Christianity is from Christ.

The thing everyone ignores about the parable of The Good Samaritan is that the Samaritan was viewed with absolute contempt by the pharisee and the scribe who crossed the road rather than stop to help the bandit’s victim.

Doris, Jane and Judy had taught me that when we act as the pharisee and the scribe acted we kill our self.

These women were not Christians.

They did by nature what many who call themselves Christians refuse to do.

Last summer Edward Keenan of THE TORONTO STAR walked in. The first thing he said was, “Reg, you are the only person in this city who stands up.” ( https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/06/27/cineforum-deserves-a-happy-ending-to-its-saga-keenan.html  )

Perhaps I am.

What would Jane Jacobs say about that? She would say, “Shame on you, Toronto.”

And she would be right to do it.

Kurt Vonnegut (an atheist) wrote: “I am a Humanist, or Freethinker, as were my parents and grandparents and great grandparents — and so not a Christian. By being a Humanist, I am honoring my mother and father, which the Bible tells us is a good thing to do.

“But I say with all my American ancestors, “If what Jesus said was good, and so much of it was absolutely beautiful, what does it matter if he was God or not?”

“If Christ hadn’t delivered the Sermon on the Mount, with its message of mercy and pity, I wouldn’t want to be a human being.

“I would just as soon be a rattlesnake.

“Revenge provokes revenge which provokes revenge which provokes revenge — forming an unbroken chain of death and destruction linking nations of today to barbarous tribes of thousands and thousands of years ago.  When Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross, he said, ‘Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.’ What kind of a man was that? Any real man, obeying the Code of Hammurabi, would have said, ‘Kill them, Dad, and all their friends and relatives, and make their deaths slow and painful.’

“His greatest legacy to us, in my humble opinion, consists of only twelve words. They are the antidote to the poison of the Code of Hammurabi, a formula almost as compact as Albert Einstein’s ‘E = mc2.’ ”

What are those twelve words? They are said daily by millions who say them without once thinking about them. They are, “Forgive us this day our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

As Miller stated, “What distinguishes the majority of men from the few is their inability to act according to their beliefs. The hero is he who raises himself above the crowd…To get men to rally round a cause, a belief, an idea, is always easier than to persuade them to live their own lives.”

I don’t expect others to stand up.

What matters is only that I do.

There was one thing more important than all the rest I learned from presenting TRIUMPH OF THE WILL.

I learned it not at the presentation but on the street posting flyers for the program.

At the intersection of Broadview and Danforth in Toronto (a very large intersection) a woman on the southwest corner charged towards where I wasw posting a flyer at the northeast corner. On the flyer was a picture of Adolf Hitler.

I figure if I am going to post pictures of Hitler I have to be prepared for people being upset.

Clearly she had something to say. I waited for her to say it. Her words shook me to the core. I thanked her for what she had said is true.

She said, “So long as men want God on earth there will always be a Hitler.

Amen.

In the end I am grateful to Zundel. I learned a lot I could not otherwise have learned by standing up to him.

There is no such thing as race. There is only humanity. We come in a rainbow of colors. We come in a Babel of beliefs. Nonetheless, we are one family.

It is long past time to demand revenge. That does not mean we stand by in silence while wrong is being done. It does mean we forgive the wrong doer.

I have learned a great deal about forgiveness from the man bent on destroying me. That is why he can not.

In the end his hate will consume him.

Too bad.

Don’t look for anyone to stand up for you.

You stand up for yourself.

If you get knocked down get back up.

If the religion or system of belief (or unbelief) you follow tells you an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is okay change your religion, your system of belief (or unbelief).

It is worn out.

Come to my SHROUD OF TURIN presentations.

Death has been decisively defeated.

–Reg Hartt 08, 17, 2017.

Joe Fiorito: “If Martin Sheen can come to town and stand on the picket line with striking hotel workers, why won’t our senior cineastes stand up for Reg Hartt?” https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2010/09/15/fiorito_we_gotta_have_hartt.html

 

The left is as bad as the right. Both feel free to lie to serve their cause.

Bernie Farber, quote d in this piece, served as the head of The Canadian Jewish Congress. Compare what he said with what the author the letter accusing me of spreading hate stated.

That’s damned high praise. It does not get better.

I came to Toronto from Hollywood in 1970 to become part of the most reviled place in the city, Rochdale College, where I became Director of Cinema Studies. Rochdale had no money to pay me. That was fine because I was standing on Faith. I am still standing on Faith.

We don’t need to be Albert Einstein to understand this.

“Reg Hartt’s Cineforum is everything Jane Jacobs writes about.”

Not many people got fan letters from Jane Jacobs. I got several. Here are two.

 

 

 

 

 

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