Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Titanic: A Nazi piece of work

The Thermos flask used to feed Titanic survivor baby, Barbara Dainton-West
The "unsinkable" four-funnelled ship the SS Titanic. Part of the White Star Line, Titanic sank off Newfoundland on her maiden voyage to the USA after striking an iceberg (14-15/4/1912). Photograph © National Museums Northern Ireland. Collection Ulster Folk & Transport Museum
Jack Thayer, Titanic survivor

James Cameron's epic has sometimes been accused of an anti-British bias, particuarly in its somewhat romanticised portrayal of the Irish, but there was a time when the story was deliberately used as anti-British and anti-American propaganda.

In 1943, the film Titanic was supposed to be a Nazi polemic on evil Anglo-American capitalists versus brave German crewmen.

But the film, like Cameron's, an absurdly expensive production, was fraught with difficulties. Its first director Herbert Selpin, after being arrested and questioned by the Gestapo, was found hanged in his cell.

The cinema in which it was supposed to open was bombed the night before the premiere. Eventually, after a tepid run, it was banned by the man who had intitially commissioned it, Joseph Goebells.

And in a last, blackly ironic twist, the cruise ship on which much of the action was filmed, the SS Cap Arcona, was sunk just before the end of the war with a greater loss of life than on the actual Titanic.

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