More Than Goebbels Bargained For: Nazi Newsreel Dissemination in Occupied Denmark and the Golden Age of Danish Documentary
From the earliest days of the occupation, the dissemination of German newsreel propaganda was met with obstruction from Danish authorities anxious to curb the scheduled Nazification of Danish audiences, but the production and distribution of Nazi films simultaneously became a bargaining chip for private enterprises eager to make a buck such as Nordisk Film. Official countermeasures to the Nazi cultural offensive quickly gave birth to the ‘Golden Age of Danish Documentary’ and an internationally unequalled production of illegal film covertly shot by the Film Group of the Danish resistance. The illegal footage was subsequently put to anti-German use in Allied newsreels, while the sustained insistence by German film organizations to coerce their propaganda onto Danish screens provided the dare-devils of the Danish resistance with a high-profile target, an arena where they could flaunt their defiance of the occupiers and their disgust with Danish moviegoers’ box office support for German films in front of a live audience. And while these entanglements took place, a generation of young documentary filmmakers honed their skills and would soon form the core of filmmakers behind the ‘Golden Age’ of Danish documentary. So, in a sense, it was Joseph Goebbels in unintended collaboration with Danish officialdom that put Danish documentary on the path to international acclaim in the post-war years.