We might have been worried about Hitler, but watching Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh survive the Civil War certainly helped give us hope and strength." Against such a backdrop, America represented a land of freedom, peace, and prosperity to millions of Europeans affected by WWI and on the brink of WWII. It was the export of American cinema, along with newsreels containing U.S. positive propaganda that provided many would-be immigrants with hope and strength.
Michael remembers his family attending Gone With The Wind as a pivotal turning point in his life. His family was greatly affected by the powerful emotions illustrated in the film's characters. He remembers that his sister fell in love with Clark Gable and he became quite "smitten" with Vivien Leigh. The fact that Leigh was a European in an American film portraying one of literature's greatest heroines thrilled the family. As Michael told me, "We were proud to be Europeans because of her representation, especially since Hitler made Germans look poorly too many people around the world."
Michael and his family were emotionally affected by the racism and prejudice toward African Americans displayed in Gone With The Wind. They were worried that as Germans they might be perceived or treated with similar prejudice if they came to America. Michael and his sister made a pact after the movie ended that if they ever came to America they would "Not tell people we were German except for other Germans." Such expectations of culture and society are often gleaned from cinema. Michael told me he used to laugh at worrying over this aspect of the film but also said it was "a painful, hurtful" image for him as a young boy. I noted that Michael did seemed to still feel some measure of pain over prejudice and the way he might have been treated, arriving in America as a German immigrant in 1942. He did not tell me anything about h