What's 'Casablanca' Without Nazis? After WWII, German Audiences Found Out The original Casablanca was passionately anti-Nazi. But when it was dubbed for German audiences, Warner Bros. deleted all scenes with Nazis in them, and almost all mention of the war.

What's 'Casablanca' Without Nazis? After WWII, German Audiences Found Out

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The classic World War II film "Casablanca" premiered 75 years ago. It's a story of romance, intrigue and sacrifice. It's also a passionately anti-Nazi movie. But in Germany, "Casablanca" was edited to create a very different film. Reporter Izzy Ross has that story.

ISABELLE ROSS, BYLINE: "Casablanca" was released in the U.S. in 1942 in the middle of the Second World War. It was released in Germany in 1952 after the war was over. In the German version, Warner Brothers deleted all scenes with the Nazis and almost all mention of the war. Remember, "Casablanca" is a movie about Nazis and the war. It became a completely different story. Nils Daniel Peiler co-authored a book on film dubbing in Germany.

NILS DANIEL PEILER: Everything had to be changed for this first version, even in very tiny details.

ROSS: The scene where customers at Rick's drown out German soldiers with the French anthem, La Marseillaise?


UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing in French).

ROSS: Gone. In the German version, characters were also rewritten. Resistance fighter Victor Laszlo is turned into a Norwegian atomic physicist renamed Victor Larsen, who discovers mysterious delta rays and is on the run from Interpol.

PEILER: So all this dialogue had to be changed for this first German-dubbed versions.

ROSS: Here's Rick talking to the corrupt French policeman, Louis Renault, in the original.


PEILER: (As Captain Louis Renault) Rick, Laszlo must never reach America. He stays in Casablanca.

HUMPHREY BOGART: (As Rick Blaine) It will be interesting to see how he manages.

PEILER: (As Captain Louis Renault) Manages what?

BOGART: (As Rick Blaine) His escape.

PEILER: (As Captain Louis Renault) Or what I just told you...

BOGART: (As Rick Blaine) Stop it. He escaped from a concentration camp. The Nazis have been chasing him all over Europe.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As Rick Blaine, speaking German).

ROSS: In the German version, Rick doesn't mention the Nazis or say concentration camp. Instead, the dubbing actor says - he broke out of jail and has escaped many people before you. The film was released in what was then West Germany, and Warner Brothers made these changes to appeal to German audiences and to get approved by the FSK, an industry-run German film board similar to the Motion Picture Association.

JENNIFER KAPCZYNSKI: I think there were certainly plenty of West German audiences that were not eager to be confronted with certain aspects of the Second World War, but the notion that West Germans were not remembering the Second World War is simply patently false.

ROSS: Jennifer Kapczynski's a professor of German Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. After the war, people were reticent to talk about Naziism. And governmental and cultural organizations were cautious.

KAPCZYNSKI: There is this sense that in showing characters from the Nazi past and the figure of Hitler absolutely, there is this danger of perhaps awakening in people a desire for a period of time, a period in history from which they are absolutely cut off. It might reawaken these lingering desires for a fascist history.

KAPCZYNSKI: Because of these edits, the German "Casablanca" was about 25 minutes shorter than the original? When it was released, it did well at the box office. According to Peiler, German movie critics gave it lukewarm reviews.

PEILER: It was considered just a typical Warner Brothers picture starring Ingrid Bergman.

ROSS: In the decades since, Germany openly confronted its role in World War II in schools, public memorials and laws. It took until 1975 for redubbed "Casablanca" to air in Germany, which was true to the original. For NPR News, I'm Izzy Ross.

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