Belgische onderwerpen van de door de bezetter gecontroleerde UFA en Belga filmjournaals, 1940-1944
Faculty of Social Sciences. Communication Sciences
Belgisch tijdschrift voor nieuwste geschiedenis / Jan Dhondt Stichting. - Gent, 1969, currens
, p. 199-236
University of Antwerp
During the Second World War Belgian cinemas were obliged to broadcast a Belgian version of the Auslandswochenschau or Auslandstonwoche (ATW) at every film showing. These news reels were produced by the Reichsministerium fur Volksaujklarung und Propaganda (RMVP) and were specifically meant for distribution abroad. Hence, they should not be confused with the Deutsche Wochenschau (DW) in the Third Reich. The news reels shown in occupied Belgium were part of an international production and distribution network, with which the German Ministry of Propaganda tried to create a monopoly on news reels. The Belgian ATW version was entitled UFA Actualites Mondiales - Wereld Aktualiteiten. It was produced in Brussels by a team headed by a representative of the Deutsche Wochenschau GmbH, a branch of the German Ministry of Propaganda. He collaborated closely with the Propaganda-Abteilung Belgien. The editorial staff weekly integrated a number of topics filmed in Belgium in a news reel that was sent from Berlin to Brussels. Because in and around Brussels there was no strict demarcation between a francophone and a Dutch (film) region, it was impossible to produce separate francophone and Dutch news reels. The locally produced topics only accounted for 20% of the average news reel and mainly contained sport and small news items. They were intended to 'prepare the way' for the German military propaganda that closed every news reel. The Belgian ATW editorial staff did indeed promote recruitment for the eastern front or labour service in Germany, but its tone was moderate. Neither did it give the Belgian collaborationist parties (VNV, DeVlag, Rex) the possibility to promote themselves unless it dovetailed with the German military propaganda. The news reels gave a very shaded view on life in occupied Belgium - there were for instance no locally produced reels on the Judenfrage. They were very moderate as far as home affairs were concerned. Even topics such as the allied bombardments were broached relatively serenely although they were clearly meant as anti-allied propaganda. Despite their relative caution, the news reels did not succeed in garnering credibility. The scarce sources on the public's reactions indicate that movie goers sometimes denounced the reels very vocally in 1940, which lead to reprisals. After 1940 it seems that the audience usually underwent the obligatory viewing silently, yet without taking the propaganda for granted.