When the National Socialists took power in January 1933, the freedom of interaction
between artistic elements in German films came to an end.
In July 1933 the Reichsfilmkammer (Imperial Chamber of Films) was founded under
the aegis of the minister of propaganda Goebbels (who appointed himself as patron
of German film). All those involved in making films had to belong to this
organisation - which, however, was not open to Jews.
This measure resulted in a dramatic increase in emigration, which started in February
following the burning of the Reichstag: Fritz Lang, Erich Pommer, Billy Wilder,
Peter Lorre and many others left the country.
From 1934, the entire German film industry was put under state control with a
new Cinema Act: from the choice of material through to the production and distribution.
Nationalisation of the film industry followed in 1937. Mainly entertainment films
were produced, but also adaptations of literary works and historical portraits
of heroic personalities. After the beginning of the Second World War, films were
intended to distract the public from poverty, suffering and crime. Explicit propaganda
messages were not incorporated into the majority of films. The main purpose was
to keep the people in high spirits, which Goebbels considered to be
decisive for the war.
The constitution of the Murnau Foundation provides for responsible conservation
of the films produced with ideological intentions during this period and not to
permit any unsuitable showings of these so-called reserved films.
The Murnau Foundation assures that reserved films are only shown within the context
of functions and discussions that are accompanied by expert introduction and comment.
The Murnau Foundation also bears responsibility for political education and
instruction by granting approval for showing reserved films in the non-commercial
Furthermore, the Murnau Foundation supports the work of the Cologne-based Institut
für Kino und Filmkultur (Institute for Cinema and Film Culture), which shows
reserved films within the context of educative political functions.