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Examples under the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany:
- The 1930 film adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front (see Literature below) provoked widespread protests by the Nazis and German nationalists, with Joseph Goebbels himself leading the occupation of a theater that screened the film. It would soon be pulled from theaters, and would only be rereleased in 1931 with severe cuts that the Germans demanded be applied to international versions as well. The affair had a chilling effect on Hollywood in the '30s; until the outbreak of war, studios were highly reluctant to make films portraying Germany, the Nazis, or fascism in a bad light lest they lose access to the lucrative German market (which ultimately happened to Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; see below). Universal president Carl Laemmle was so distressed by the affair, especially after Hitler's rise to power in 1933, that he personally helped over three hundred Jewish people escape Germany before his death in 1939. It was only when the outbreak of war started threatening access to the British and French markets, both far more lucrative than Germany, that Hollywood started seriously making explicitly anti-Nazi films.
- The similar German-made pacifistic World War I film Westfront 1918 was similarly protested against by the Nazis, had screenings disturbed by them and was eventually pulled from theaters.
- The Mad Dog of Europe, a film about anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany written by Herman J. Mankiewicz (of future Citizen Kane fame) and produced by Sam Jaffe, was outright canceled due to the aforementioned chilling effect. As Mankiewicz was making the film through an independent studio that didn't do business in Europe, banning it in Germany would have no effect, and so Georg Gyssling, a Nazi diplomat sent to Hollywood to work with the studios as an adviser and ensure that their films would be acceptable for German distribution, attempted to get both the Hays Office and the Anti-Defamation League to stop production on the film, the former by telling them that allowing the film's release would lead to a blanket ban on all American films in Germany and the latter by saying that it might provoke an anti-Semitic backlash. Ultimately, Mankiewicz and Jaffe failed to find funding due to investors and studios afraid of being banned from Germany, and the film was never made.
- The Laurel and Hardy film The Bohemian Girl (1934) was banned as Romani were on the Nazis' list of undesirable peoples who were exterminated under Hitler's rule.
- Das Testament des Doktor Mabuse was banned because Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels felt it would undercut the audience's confidence in its political leaders. He called the film a menace to public health and safety and said it "showed that an extremely dedicated group of people are perfectly capable of overthrowing any state with violence."
- Although Hitler loved Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs enough to own a personal copy and draw Fan-Art based on it, the film did not receive an official German release during his lifetime. It was one of fifty American films that Goebbels purchased the rights to in 1938, but it wasn't released due to growing anti-American sentiment. Snow White was finally released in West Germany in 1950.
- In May of 1939, six months before Germany's invasion of Poland, Warner Bros. released Confessions of a Nazi Spy, the first explicitly anti-Nazi film produced by a major Hollywood studio. The Nazis responded by banning all Warner Bros. films. A year later, MGM released its own anti-Nazi film, The Mortal Storm, resulting in Germany banning all MGM films too.
- While the Nazis loved Gone with the Wind for its racism (it was a favorite movie of Hitler himself, in fact), they banned it in countries they occupied, such as France, because the Occupiers out of Our Country theme was inspiring to La Résistance. It was eventually banned in Germany itself for being an MGM release (see above).
- The Nazis banned Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator (1940), which directly mocked Hitler and his regime. However, curiosity got the best of Hitler, and he had a private copy brought in, which he viewed twice. His opinion on the film has been a matter of debate.
- Sometimes the Nazis would ban their own movies if they weren't happy with how they turned out:
- Minister of Propaganda (and czar of the Nazi Germany film industry) Joseph Goebbels had Leni Riefenstahl's Sieg des Glaubens (Victory of the Faith) banned in 1934. The reason for this was the prominent role the SA (the infamous "Brown Shirts", paramilitary units of the Nazi party during its political ascent) had in it. The SA was purged of its leadership during the Night of the Long Knives in June 1934 and the organization's role was considerably reduced, so works showing them prominently (and especially their leader Ernst Röhm, who was executed during the purge) were not welcome anymore. All copies were believed to have been destroyed but one survived.
- Goebbels also banned the 1933 film Hans Westmar (a fictionalized biopic about the life of young Nazi martyr Horst Wessel) for some time, before allowing a "revised" version to be released."As national-socialists, we do not particularly value to watch our SA marching on stage or screen. Her sphere are the streets. Should however somebody try to solve national socialist problems in the realm of art, he must understand that also in this case the art does not come from ambition but ability. Even an ostentatious display of a national-socialist attitude is no substitute for an absence of true art. The national socialist government has never demanded the production of SA movies. On the contrary: we see a danger in this excess. In no way does national-socialism justify artistic failure. The greater the idea that shall find a form the greater the aesthetic demands have to be."
- What he meant by "artistic failure" was very likely the very real violence the SA used in the Nazis' conquest of power. Now that they were in power, depicting the SA's street fights against Communists didn't make for a great PR move, quite the contrary.
- Goebbels commissioned a film about the sinking of the Titanic, to be used as anti-British propaganda. But when the Nazi Titanic was completed, Goebbels decided a movie that featured terrified crowds running around in a panic before getting killed in a tragically helpless situation was no longer a good idea in a Germany that was getting pounded by Allied bombing. He banned it, and the film wasn't screened in Germany until 1949.
- A very successful anti-British German film Uncle Krueger, made in 1940 and detailing a very slanted account of the Boer War, was later banned from cinemas in 1944 when Germany entered a state of total war. A film that graphically portayed civilians getting shot, blown up, rounded up and sent to death camps became a highly sensitive inconvenience for the Nazis.
- A 1939 musical about Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, ironically titled It Was a Gay Ballnight, was banned in Germany after they declared war on Soviet Union due to its positive portrayal of Russia and Russian culture.
- When the U.S. entered the war in 1941, the Nazis decided to just ban all American films and be done with it. Eva Braun, who loved American films, was allowed to continue watching them in private.
- A full list of all the books and plays banned in Nazi Germany would be rather unwieldy, but Jewish playwright Heinrich Heine's Almansor deserves special mention as the source of the quote "Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people." This quote is now engraved in the ground at the Opernplatz, which is now called the Bebelplatz for being the site of a major Nazi Book Burning.
- All Quiet on the Western Front was banned during Hitler's regime for portraying war as a pointless waste of human life and for its perceived anti-German messages. It was banned in Austria too for the same reasons.
- Hitler ordered the children's novel The Story of Ferdinand to be banned and even burned because the story of a bull who doesn't want to partake in bullfighting was considered to be pacifist/communist brainwashing. Mussolini and Franco banned it in their respective countries as well.
- Na tropach Smętka by Melchior Wańkowicz was banned as anti-German, since it was a travelogue describing Mazury (ethnically mostly Polish, then part of Germany) and the poor treatment of Poles there.
- The Nazis banned jazz and swing for being "negro music". The film Swing Kids is about the youths who defied this ban.
- The Mickey Mouse short "The Barnyard Battle" (1929) was banned back then for depicting soldiers using pickelhauben, the helmets used by German soldiers in World War I.
- After German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky won the 1935 Nobel Peace Prize for exposing the illegal German rearmament program, the Nazi regime responded by banning all German nationals from accepting the Nobel Prize. When Gerhard Domagk won the 1939 Nobel Prize in Medicine, he had to wait until after the war to collect it.
Examples under post-1945 Germany:
- The notorious 1940 costume drama Jew Suss, personally commissioned by Goebbels as a way to condone the Holocaust among German citizens by inflaming their hatred towards the Jews, was immediately banned after the war in 1945, and its makers were put on trial . To this day, it is illegal to screen the film commercially in Germany and many other countries. Like all other Nazi propaganda films, it's classified as a Vorbehaltsfilm ("film under reservation"), and the only copies that are allowed to be distributed have a running educational commentary dubbed in.
- Similarly, the 1941 courtroom drama Ich Klage An (I Accuse), meant to encourage German citizens' support of the Nazi euthanasia policy towards the disabled was promptly banned after the war, with some of the people behind the production ending up on trial.
- Many other propaganda films made by the Nazis are still classified as Vorbehaltsfilm and tightly controlled in modern Germany. Those include the ugliest Nazi propaganda such as The Eternal Jew, as well as less actively offensive works such as Kolberg. Oddly, the most famous Nazi propaganda film—Triumph of the Will—is not banned in Germany, nor is the 1943 Nazi Titanic (although the latter is only distributed in a censored version that was put together by the Allies in 1949, which is missing two scenes and the film's epilogue).
- Inverted with the West German film The White Rose, a biopic centering on a resistance group consisting of university students which defied the Nazis from 1942 until their arrest and execution in 1943. Export of the film was legally forbidden for a time due to red tape; the film so embarrassed the German government that they would go on to abolish the People's Court which had condemned the group in the first place, allowing export within a year.
- Volkswagen is sufficiently sensitive about the fact that the company was founded in part by Hitler that they still object to Volkswagens being depicted as weapons of war, hence the live-action film incarnation of Bumblebee being a Camaro until the release of Bumblebee in 2018, where he was finally depicted as a Beetle like his first-generation counterpart. General Motors wrote a big check to complete the change to a Camaro. The problem also arose when Hasbro wanted to make a new version of Bumblebee for the Alternators toy line, which consisted of robots that transformed into accurate (and licensed) 1:24 scale replicas of current cars. However, in 2014, this was all finally averted with the release of Masterpiece Bumblebee, with an officially licensed Beetle mode.
- Posters for Inglourious Basterds were edited to remove swastikas as per their No Swastikas (or anything pertaining to the Nazi party) rule.
- The only version of The Evil Dead (1981) that isn't banned in Germany had 15 minutes cut.
- Twenty minutes were cut from all German-dubbed releases of Bedknobs and Broomsticks to remove scenes with the Nazis. This included home video releases.
- All in all, about 130 movies are banned in their uncut form in Germany. This includes the usual suspects like Cannibal Holocaust, the Faces of Death series and many of Lucio Fulci's films, but also Dawn of the Dead (1978), Halloween II (1981) and Phantasm. There are essentially two tiers of banning films in Germany: banning them from being sold altogether, and allowing their sale but banning them from being advertised, displayed in shops, reviewed, or otherwise given publicity. Films in the latter category can't be sold to minors, which means that with all the other constraints, they're only sold online.
- Averted with Mein Kampf, despite many thinking it was banned; it wasn't. A 1979 legal decision declared that it could not be subject to laws against "unconstitutional propaganda" as it was first published before the introduction of the then-West German constitution. It couldn't be sold in Germany, but that was because the state of Bavaria (Hitler's legal residence at the time of his death) held the copyright and chose not to publish it. The book became public domain in 2016 and is now published and sold within the country again.
- The Turner Diaries is not allowed to be sold in the country, due to the fact it is essentially the National Front's manifesto.
- The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Patterns Of Force" was banned in Germany because the plot deals not with the usual "evil alien culture which coincidentally resembles Nazi Germany", but with an alien culture explicitly imitating the real Third Reich under the influence of a misguided human infiltrator. It was shown on German pay TV in 1996 and was finally shown on public TV in 2011; interestingly, it was already included in the DVD/Blu-ray sets.
- Due to a patent dispute between Motorola and Microsoft, Germany banned the sale of Microsoft products, including the Xbox 360 and Windows 7. There is a loophole for the latter though; Microsoft isn't allowed to sell Windows, but it is still allowed to be bundled with new PCs.
- It has since been ended as Motorola were defunct.
- Any media that counts as Holocaust Denial is illegal.
- A doll called My Friend Cayla was banned in Germany due to the government finding that the doll could be used by hackers to spy on children.
- Germany classifies all games (including video games) as children's toys. Among other things, it bans the depiction of swastikas and other Nazi-related stuff in non-educational media, under a law prohibiting the use of symbols of anti-constitutional groups unless it's for historical or educational reasons.
- In Hearts of Iron 2, Nazi Germany uses the Imperial Tricolour (think the Red Baron's plane), which the Nazis actually banned, instead of a swastika flag. Thankfully, this was enough to appease the German censors (unlike what they had to do in China).
- Surprisingly, Bionic Commando Rearmed is not banned in Germany because it has no Nazi imagery. However, the main villain is obviously supposed to be Adolf Hitler, even though he's never referred to as such by name. In the English version, he's known simply as "The Leader". The German translation refers to him as "Der Führer", which makes it even more obvious.
- Wolfenstein 3D, filled with Hitler posters and Nazi symbols, was banned. For Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Wolfenstein: The New Order, id Software made some changes to the German version to get a release, including removal of swastikas. Also, the two Secret Level homages to Wolfenstein 3D were removed entirely from the German release of Doom II; if the player attempts to access the levels with the level select cheat code, the game will crash.
- Hidden & Dangerous was censored of all blood and Nazi symbols — but the original textures are still in the installation directory. A little tweaking with WinRAR can undo the censoring.
- The entire Nimdok section of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream was removed in the German release due to it being set in a concentration camp. This made the game unwinnable, as the final part of the game requires all four characters.
- German censors are also very sensitive to violence, leading to many games being edited to feature often ridiculous Bloodless Carnage. A side effect of this tendency is that Austrian online shops are far more successful than German video game dealers. Some examples:
- The German version of Team Fortress Classic was virtually unplayable. Every class model was replaced with the generic death match "Robot" model, so you couldn't tell enemy classes apart. The German version of Team Fortress 2 uses the weird organs from Party Mode permanently.
- Half-Life had all the blood removed, HECU soldiers replaced with the same robots as with Team Fortress, and scientists, rather than dying, just sitting down and shaking their heads. In 2017, 18 years after the game was originally released, Valve put out an update for German players that allowed them to play the uncensored version.
- Turok's human opponents were replaced by robots that "bled" green liquid.
- Resident Evil 4's German release was badly chopped up to remove the gore. But ironically, at least one scene ended up with even more disturbing implications when its ending was replaced with a fadeout.
- The German versions of Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn and Command & Conquer: Red Alert had to refer to infantry units as "Cyborgs". When they died, the sound would resemble that of power going down, and there was no blood. The censorship of the German version becomes apparent in the first minutes of the game if you've played the English-language version. Some shots from the cut scenes were also cut, leaving bits with gruesome deaths (such as Stavros killing Stalin) somewhat disjointed. However, under EA things have changed for the better. Tiberium Wars had two versions for the European market, one with censorship and one uncut, 16+ version.
- Command & Conquer: Generals was originally released uncensored, but then the censors changed their minds; they removed all references to the actual countries named in the game, turned all infantry into "cyborgs" (and photoshopped every picture to support this), made the audio sound more robotic, removed a mission from the GLA campaign, removed all video of the campaigns, and turned the Terrorist unit into a toy car with a bomb strapped to it. Zero Hour only had a censored version, which was much the same except with the videos surviving the cuts.
- In Wing Commander IV, the scene where Seether slits Captain Paulson's throat has two versions, with and without gushing blood. The latter is the one found on the German release of the game.
- The German version of Left 4 Dead 2 is censored to remove the gore; however, the German version also features four extra weapons ported from Counter-Strike: Source, which don't normally spawn in other versions of the game.
- Madworld is outright banned in Germany due to extreme violence, despite being showcased at the Games Convention before its launch.
- Carmageddon's German version uses robots as targets instead of humans or zombies. One could, however, swap the names of two files in the install folder and restore some of the original content.
- Germany flat-out refused to rate Dead Rising, which was tantamount to a ban because Microsoft will not release a game unless it's properly rated.
- The first Unreal Tournament is the only game of the Unreal series to be forbidden in Germany, to the point that the local editions of the Compilation Rereleases (such as Unreal Anthology) don't feature it.
- Harvester was banned due to its gory and grotesque nature, but it crossed its line with three children eating their own mother, which was the biggest reason for the ban.
- Moonstone: A Hard Days Knight was banned in Germany because of its (at the time) unusually gory content.
- Shadow Dancer is banned in Germany, which led to the game being dropped from Sega Mega Drive Collection in the PAL region and Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection in all regions and one trophy in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing being named "Shadow Dancing" instead.
- When the Wii U first launched in November 2012, the European Nintendo eShop restricted viewing pages for content rated 18 by PEGI to between 11:00 pm and 3:00 am. This also meant that one could only purchase an 18-rated game during this window. Nintendo's European division is based in Germany and imposed these restrictions based on German laws, even though these restrictions were enforced throughout Europe. When other European gamers protested, Nintendo lifted these restrictions.
- House of the Dead is banned, leading to it being renamed Curien Mansion in the Sega Superstars games, even in the US.
- A whopping twenty-seven games were pulled from the German version of Steam on May 31, 2016, several of which had been banned over a decade ago.
- Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors was banned in Germany due to the character Mizuki, who in the opinion of the board appeared to be under 18 and was placed in sexual situations. This is quite a contrast from the first game, which Germany gave a 16 rating, the lowest age rating for it of anywhere in the world.
- Germany is now a proud member of the countries whose parliament passed a law for censoring websites. The law only survived for a couple of years before being repealed. It was mostly to deal with the really bad stuff, like child pornography, and its only requirement was that ISPs block the URL.
- In February 2018, Project Gutenberg (a website for Public Domain Stories) was banned in Germany following a lawsuit from Fischer Verlag. The hosted authors (Heinrich Mann, Thomas Mann [who were brothers], and Alfred Döblin) will see their German copyrights expire in 2020, 2025, and 2027 respectively.