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Film Censorship in Germany: Continuity and Change through Five Political Systems

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Silencing Cinema

Part of the book series: Global Cinema ((GLOBALCINE))

Abstract

As the German Reich incited two world wars that resulted in its defeats, all through the twentieth century, German history proceeded in turmoil, which did not end with the Anschluss of East Germany to the Federal Republic in 1990 when the Cold War saw losers and winners.1 All the five systems of political rule in Germany were confronted with alternatives and felt a strong need to protect their principles against “the enemy” inside and outside the country. In Germany, as in many countries, film exhibition was subject to precensorship from the beginning of cinematography. Though there was no universally applicable film legislation in Wilhelmine Germany, many films were cut or completely banned in the decade before the First World War. While theater and press censorship were abolished in Germany following the dissolution of the monarchy in 1918, the new Weimar democracy introduced uniform film censorship in 1920 through the Reichslichtspielgesetz (Reich Motion Picture Act). The guidelines of that law were significant for film censorship up to the early 1970s: a pronounced continuity extends from imperial Germany, across the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany, and on into the Federal Republic. The situation in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was fundamentally different, as the state itself had a monopoly over film production.

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Notes

  1. This chapter is a revised and updated version of Loiperdinger, M. (2002) State Legislation, Censorship, and Funding, pp. 148–157 in Bergfelder, T., Carter, E. et al. (eds) The German Cinema Book. London: BFI Publishing.

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  4. §32.2 of the draft constitution of February 17, 1919.

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Daniel Biltereyst Roel Vande Winkel

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© 2013 Daniel Biltereyst and Roel Vande Winkel

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Loiperdinger, M. (2013). Film Censorship in Germany: Continuity and Change through Five Political Systems. In: Biltereyst, D., Winkel, R.V. (eds) Silencing Cinema. Global Cinema. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137061980_6

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