His [Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels's] speech singled out four favorite films as models to which good German filmmakers should aspire. One was Greta Garbo's Love, a 1927 silent film based on Anna Karenina, Tolstoy as rendered by the MGM director Edmund Goulding; another was Sergei Eisenstein's Potemkin, the classic Russian film about a mutinous episode in the 1905 revolution; the third, Der Rebell (The Rebel), about the Tyrolean struggle for freedom against the Napoleonic occupation army, was a German film from 1932, co-directed by Luis Trenker and Kurt Bernhardt. The fourth was Fritz Lang's Die Nibelngun, which the Minister of Propaganda singled out for effusive praise: "There is an epic film that is not of our time, and yet it is so modern, so contemporary, so topical, that even the stalwards of the National Socialist movement were deeply moved."
"What a backstairs joke of film history, of world history almost!" Paul Erich Marcus wrote, years later. Eisnstein, Bernhardt, even Lang--according to common knowedge--were Jewish. Edmund Goulding, an Englishman, and Luis Trenker were the only gentiles among those listed by the anti-Semitic Gobbels. It was a chilling irony, and the Jews among the crowd realized their days in Geramny were numbered; many resolved then and there to flee at the first opportunity.