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These films have valuable lessons for us today.

FORBIDDEN FILMS (2014) begins with scenes from the 1941 German Nazi Propaganda film HEIMKHER (HOMECOMING). You can see HEIMKHER here:   .  The picture quality is atrocious however this serves to illustrate how ineffectual banning these films is.

My Grade 12 homeroom English teacher John Casey in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario told me he put all the books he wanted his kids to read in a bookcase with glass doors. He locked the doors, hid the key and said to his children, “If I catch you reading those books I will spank you.”

Of course, they read every one of them.

The people who ban books, movies, works of art, etc., are not particularly bright people though, by God, they think they are.

FORBIDDEN FILMS is a riveting look at how the Nazis used motion pictures to indoctrinate the German people into accepting their aims and ideas. Some of the works, like THE ETERNAL JEW, are so over the top they were rejected by those who first saw them. The Nazis were quick to learn their lesson. The body of the films discussed in this documentary are super skillful works of mass media manipulation.

I have a lot of experience in presenting difficult works to public audiences. I have probably presented Leni Riefenstahl’s film TRIUMPH OF THE WILL (not one of the works discussed in this feature) more times than anyone else on the planet.

At the first showing I did of the film in the 1970s I was surprised when many members of the audience stood up when Hitler’s plane landed at Nuremberg. They gave a Nazi salute.

The biggest ones were back by the projector. I let the moment pass. I knew that if I did anything there would be a riot during which the projector and the 16mm print would disappear.

At the next screening of the film I preceded the picture with a spoken introduction.

This time no one stood up when Hitler’s plane landed. There were no Nazi salutes.

At the presentation’s end a group of people came up to me. One of them said, “We are from the Ontario Human Rights Commission. We are here because we got complaints about your presentation of this film. You are doing good work. Keep it up.

Because I had made myself visible people spoke with me after the screening. These were always men and women who had survived the worst Hitler had to throw at them. One fellow told me he had been released from a concentration camp on his birthday. I said, “That was a helluva birthday present.” He said, “You know, in all these years I have never looked at it that way.”

One woman came many times. She came so many times I began to think she might be a Nazi. Finally I asked her why she was coming to the film so many times. She said, “I am in it.”

Then she told me that she had been a small child in Nuremberg when Hitler came there in 1934. The first time she saw the film she had recognized her father, her mother, her sisters and her brothers standing in the window of their apartment waving Nazi flags. They were Jews. Except for herself they had all perished. She had no pictures of them. She came because for those few seconds she saw her family once again.

I backed off respecting her pain. At home after the presentation I thought of having one of those frames enlarged for a photograph so that she could keep it. I looked forward to seeing her again but she never returned.

Many people complained about my screening of that film. They did their best to stop me. All of them assumed that in presenting the film I was supporting Nazism. Those screenings were being held at The Bathurst Street United Church in Toronto. The complaints became hysterical.

One of the people who had been among the first to attend the presentation was Jane Jacobs, the author of the pivotal book, THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES. Mrs. Jacobs wrote an extremely strong letter of support.

One of the people who speaks in this picture tells us how ineffectual the banning of these motion pictures has been. She states, “We can buy them on DVD and we can find them on YouTube.”  That is what prompted me to do a YouTube search.

Banning any work gives it power. If religions understood this they would stop talking about sin. They don’t. If politicians understood this they would not allow the banning of anything.

One of the many letters written over the years complaining about my work. This one was signed (and not meant to be seen by me. The writer was furious when she found out I had been given a copy). Most of them are unsigned and include threats on my life.

What forbidding does is it adds to the attraction of the work denied.

One day while posting a flyer for a presentation of TRIUMPH OF THE WILL (1935) on which was a picture of Adolf Hitler a woman crossed the south west corner of one of Toronto’s largest intersections (Broadview and Danforth) to where I was at the north east corner. I thought she was going to give me grief for posting a picture of Adolf Hitler. I figure if I am going to do that then I should be prepared to take criticism for it.

I was not prepared, however, for what she did say. She said, “As long as men want God on earth there will always be a Hitler.

I thanked her for, of course, that is true.

Christians, Moslems and Jews await a Messiah who will create order out of chaos and who will punish the wicked with eternal fire. Adolf Hitler created order out of the chaos of post World War One Germany. Those whom he saw as wicked met their deaths in his ovens.

As I reflected on this I realized the last thing we need is a Messiah.

Kino Lorber has done us a great service in making this documentary available. I urge everyone to take a look at it.

Taking my cue I have located copies of many of the films discussed in it. I will be giving you the chance to see them.

The power of movements like that of the Nazis is the power of tribalism.

Tribalism rises when we refuse to see ourselves as one Human family.

Our ideas of race are false. There is not a Black Race, a Brown Race, a White Race, a Yellow race. There is one race, the human race. It comes in many shades.

Those who promote the idea of race are clinging to a wildly out of date idea.

It’s time to leave them behind.

As for the the banned films in this documentary (and all banned works) it is time to open the vaults and make them available.

What is worse than the actual banning is the way film makers bowdlerize stories like Victor Hugo’s THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. They clearly lack the courage of Victor Hugo.

Knowing the true story seeing the Disney version of POCAHONTAS makes me want to vomit.

It’s about time they got some balls.

Toronto’s Nazis used to send young people to my screenings so that they could see Hitler (this was in the days before the world wide web made everything available to everyone). Toronto’s Nazis stopped sending young people to my screenings because they were losing too many of them. I know this because those young people thanked me.

Katharine Hepburn when invited to join New York’s prestigious GROUP THEATER at the start of her career said, “I want no part of the group dynamic. The group dynamic by nature is always second rate.”

She’s right. Those attracted to the group (and that includes political parties and religions) are the second rate.

The best walk alone.

–Reg Hartt 2018–05–10.

Toronto, despite the best efforts of people like Audra Williams, is not an anti-black city. There are, of course, in this city people of limited vision who are anti-black, anti,Roman Catholic, anti-Jewish, Anti–pick one. They are not the city. Native American Elders teach that beating a child only pounds the badness in. I’m with them.


Bernie Farber, quoted in this piece, served as the head of The Canadian Jewish Congress.

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

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