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John Taylor of South Africa spots a hasty but significant excision of a key paragraph from The Independent's obituary of Leni Riefenstahl

"Hitler's Typewriter"

Retouching the life of Leni Riefenstahl

At six a.m. GMT yesterday, I looked at The Independent site and looked at the Leni Riefenstahl biography. I then looked at eight p.m. last night: The biography had been changed to that below -- and I didnt keep the earlier one.

What had been cut out was however interesting. The biography had originally stated that Riefenstahl had got into the film business because there was an enormous gap created by Hitler's expulsion of the Jews from film-making.

It stongly implied that film-making in Germany had been dominated by the Jews and that Germans didn't get a look-in. The article then said that they went to Hollywood and were accepted there -- also implying that Hollywood was also strongly Jewish.

This must have upset those folks, who evidently check up on all the first editions off the presses, and censor what they don't like. O'Reilly knows where his baked beans comes from.

John Taylor


The Independent

London, September 10, 2003

Riefenstahl, Hitler's willing propagandist, dies at 101

By Tony Paterson
in Berlin

LENI Riefenstahl, the Nazi film director who achieved world fame with Triumph of the Will, her hypnotic propaganda portrait of a 1934 Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg, has died aged 101.

Her friends yesterday announced her death at her home near the Starnberger lake, south of Munich, just over a fortnight after her birthday.

"She died in her sleep at home on Monday night," her companion, Horst Kettner, told the German magazine Bunte. "Her heart simply stopped."

Mrs Riefenstahl, one of the last famous Nazi-era figures, was an active filmmaker almost right up until her death. It was, however, one of the most controversial careers in German cinema history. Last year she released a new film based on her activities as a scuba diver, Impressions under Water.

Yet throughout her post-war career she was never able to rid herself of the reputation gained during the 1930s as Hitler's favourite filmmaker and willing author of some of the Nazi's most powerful propaganda.

"Her work was particularly repellent because it served National Socialism," said Rainer Oter, a German biographer of Riefenstahl. "She never denied being an admirer of Hitler but equally she denied that her work was useful to his regime. She took refuge in naivety."

Riefenstahl heard Hitler speak for the first time at a rally in 1932 and described the experience as so overwhelming that she felt "paralysed". She wrote to him offering her talents and the Nazi party engaged her to make films of its Nuremberg rallies.

Triumph of the Will, which depicts thousands of goose-stepping Nazi Brownshirts and German civilians spellbound by Hitler, won awards at the Venice and Paris film festivals. In Germany the film has been banned since 1945. Cinemas wishing to show it need to obtain special permission.

It was followed in 1936 by her documentary on the Berlin Olympic games, Olympia, which won her similar acclaim.

Blind to the political aspect of her Nazi film career in later years, she remained unrepentant. "I don't know what I should apologise for," she said last year. Yet despite allegations that she was Hitler's lover, she claimed to have known nothing about the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis and insisted she learned about the concentration camps only after the war.

"I always see more of the good and the beautiful than the ugly and the sick," she said.

Riefenstahl spent three years under allied arrest after 1945 before being cleared. She spent much of the 1950s living in poverty with her mother in a one-room flat and only reclaimed her career in the 1970s with her photographic essay on the Nubians. In the 1980s the German film world grudgingly acknowledged her role as a pioneering documentary maker.

Yet even last year, she was investigated for "denying the Holocaust" after she claimed she did not know Gypsies were taken from concentration camps to serve as extras and then sent back to their deaths. State prosecutors eventually dropped the case.

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