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‘Apocalyptic vision’: Austrian movie predicting rise of Nazism to be restored with ‘lost’ ending

A “disturbingly prophetic” Austrian film envisioning state-backed anti-Semitism prior to the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany will finally have its “lost” ending restored, more than 90 years after it first premiered.

Discovered by a French collector at a Paris flea market in 2015, the “lost” ending to ‘The City Without Jews’ is set to be digitally reinstated by the Austrian Film Archive after it received some $90,000 in an online crowdfunding campaign.

The organisation hopes to re-release the film in its original guise.

Based on the novel of the same name by journalist Hugo Bettauer, the silent film first received an audience in Vienna in 1924.

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Interestingly, at the time it was first shown, Adolf Hitler would have been languishing in jail for his part in the Munich Putsch, with his horrific anti-Jewish political beliefs yet to be unleashed on the world.

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Shot in Vienna, the movie depicts a fictionalised city of Utopia, its extremist government’s anti-Semitic laws and the subsequent expulsion of the Jewish population. Bettauer met a grisly end himself when he was murdered a year after the film’s release.

A spokesperson for Austria’s national archive described it as an “apocalyptic vision” of what would later become a reality during the Holocaust.

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“A kind of presage, it was the first film in the world to show the expulsion of Jews that became a reality only a few years later, and the related political and social consequences,” a statement about the restoration project said.

The archive previously restored the oldest-ever Austrian drama. It said that the missing footage shed new light on the “ruthless” anti-Semitic connotations of the film.

“All in all, the political message of the film and the depiction of murderous anti-Semitism in Vienna in the wake of World War I are now significantly more sharply articulated,” the archive said.

“Upon completion of the restoration work, it may be possible to present [the film], more than 90 years after its premiere, in an almost complete and authentic version once again,” it added.

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