VHS40 / DVD40 - Mussolini visits Hitler
September 1937 over one million excited people jam into Berlin's Olympic stadium to see and hear the rousing visit by Fascist Italy's Benito Mussolini. Includes a spectacular nighttime military tattoo performed by thousands of military musicians!
For Benito Mussolini’s state visit to Germany in 1937, the Third Reich pulled out all the stops when it came to pageantry. As such, this film is among the most spectacular examples of its kind, documenting as it does the meeting of two kindred ideologies and their like-minded founders.
It took place at a moment when both National Socialist Germany and Fascist Italy were approaching the zenith of their cultural and economic florescence, although the rearmament of both countries was already well under way, as suggested by the military maneuvers showcased in the film. Featured are some light armor which saw action two years later during the Polish Campaign, and .88 artillery pieces which were to prove the bane of Mathilda tanks in the Libyan Desert and Allied freighters on the high seas.
Luftwaffe aircraft include a Henschel-123, a tough dive-bomber that belied its antiquated bi-plane design to serve with distinction throughout the war, and, ironically enough, the Fieseler Storch, or “Stork”, a single-engine spotter and utility high-wing monoplane that, six years later, would rescue Mussolini from his remote captivity, high in the Abruzzi Mountains.
Duce and Fuehrer review a huge Wehrmacht march-past, during which all the military services are represented in their dress uniforms and shiny, new equipment. Second only perhaps to Hitler’s 50th birthday parade, two years later, the combined armed forces presentation is unmatched for spectacle. The film is endowed with an extremely musical soundtrack, including a number of massed bands which perform a spirited rendition of La Giovenezza --- “Youth” --- the Fascist anthem.
In Munich, Mussolini lays a wreath at the Feldherrnhalle, dedicated to Nazi martyrs, then takes the salute of massed NSDAP formations, including troops of S.A., S.S., Hitler Youth and Party veterans from the Struggle for Power.
He was fluent in German, and, standing atop the flag-draped podium at the center of Berlin’s colossal Maifeld stadium, he addressed no less than one million listeners in their own language. Outside the mass-meeting, another 150 million Germans and Italians were glued to their radio sets, listening to live coverage of the rally. Under an effect known as the “Cathedral of Light” created by the concentrated illumination of several hundred surrounding search-lights, he said, “My visit should not be weighed in the same sense as in the usual, diplomatic, political sphere. The fact that I have come to Germany today does not mean that I shall travel to some other place tomorrow.”
Throughout his late September stay, he was obviously impressed by the lavish attention showered on him, and proudly wore the Luftwaffe badge presented by Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering. Earlier scenes of Mussolini visiting Karinhall, Goering’s estate, show both men at ease and relaxed, while Goering’s wife, Emma, plays affectionately with a lion cub. The Duce had his own lion, a full-grown male, at home.
In his introduction, Hitler described his prominent guest as “one of the great, lonely men of history, who is not only tested by history, but makes history,” and referred to the occasion of his visit as “a meeting of two nations.”
Mussolini’s most memorable comment was an allusion to his host: “When one has such a friend, you go with him through thick and thin, in good times and in bad.” The Duce’s statement was to prove remarkably prescient of things to come.
The Maifeld rally ends with an enormous torch-light parade and assembled troops from every branch of the Party and Wehrmacht. Viewers of “Mussolini Visits Hitler” may find the contrast between that time and ours almost staggering.
Seeing this vhs/dvd is to glimpse a time and culture where national grandeur on a monumental scale challenged the immemorial splendor of Greece or Rome, and seems now no less remote than those other, vanished civilizations.
by Marc Roland
Mussolini visits Hitler
Details: Original German 1930's films, Running time 31 minutes, Black & White with English subtitles.
DVD 40 =