Ordinary Fascism

Ch. 5 The Holocaust on the Thawing Screens: From Fate of a Man (1959) to Ordinary Fascism (1965)

Ordinary Fascism (1965) is an extraordinary documentary, the first of its kind to investigate the nature of the totalitarian regimes—ostensibly in Nazi Germany, but also in Stalin’s Russia. The film is comprised of diverse visual materials, including official Nazi kulturfilms and newsreels, footage from the personal archives of Goebbels and Hitler, children’s drawings, photographs from the Auschwitz museum, amateur shots taken by Nazi troops, text of intertitles, and contemporary verite sequences. Together, these diverse materials constitute an indictment of Nazi fascism, including its murderous anti-Semitic policies. Censorship prevented the filmmakers from speaking about the Holocaust directly, so they find more subtle ways to bring it in. These scenes show two examples of how Ordinary Fascism engages with the subject of the Holocaust.


Availability: Ordinary Fascism is available, with English subtitles, on the Mosfilm studio website.

  1. How is the Holocaust invoked in the voiceover commentary in these two clips?
  2. How is the Holocaust represented on screen through visual imagery? Which images look familiar to you?
  3. What is the relationship between the soundtrack (including music and voiceover) and the visual images in these clips?
  4. Ordinary Fascism had a tremendous influence on other filmmakers, and on its audiences—over 20 million people saw it in the Soviet Union alone. How do you understand the reasons for such an impact at that time?