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Director - Michael Kloft
Run Time - 52 minutes
Language - English and German with English subtitles
Format - DVD
Year - 1999
Genre - Documentary

Educational Interest- Communication, History (World), Media Studies,
World War II


Institutional DVD Price: $195


Legend has it that the triumphal march of television began in the United States in the 1950s but in reality its origins hark back much further. Nazi leaders, determined to beat Great Britain and the U.S. to be the world’s first television broadcaster, began Greater German Television in March 1935. German viewers enjoyed their TV broadcasts until September 1944, as Allied troops closed in.


Making use of 285 reels of film discovered in the catacombs of the Berlin Federal Film Archive, TV UNDER THE SWASTIKA is a fascinating look at the world’s first television broadcast network. It explores both the technology behind this new medium, and the programming the Nazis chose to put on it. Interviews with high-ranking Nazis as well as “ordinary” people on the street, cooking shows, sporting events, cabaret acts and teleplays are some of the stunning finds seen here – all of it propaganda, but some of it quite entertaining.


A rare and intriguing look into the Third Reich, TV UNDER THE SWASTIKA is required viewing for anyone interested in the history of television, the intersection of media and propaganda, and the inside story of Nazi Germany.




• The first regular broadcasts began in March 1935

• Material discovered includes vaudeville acts, cooking shows, sporting events, man-on-the-street interviews, cosmetics tips and teleplays

• Maximum entertainment was the goal of the broadcasts, always with a heavy propaganda element

• Initially, two televisions with 8 x 10 inch screens were placed in television parlors for public screening

• Thousands of televisions made it into the homes of the Nazi elite, who would switch them on during important visits

• When the war began, the broadcasts were used to entertain and distract the soldiers from their woes, and were prominent in hospitals

• One of the last broadcasts was in 1944, a public service message instructing amputees on how to stay fit so that they could return to the fighting


Television Under the Swastika is also available as part of the collection Inside the Third Reich.