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A newsreel was a compilation of film reports on political, social, sporting and cultural events that was newly produced every week for the cinema . The cinema newsreels were shown in the opening program for the main film. They became superfluous when many households had their own television set and could use it to watch news programs - daily or several times a day.

On television, programs with “Weekly Review” tie in with the tradition of the cinema newsreels.


The French “Eclair-Journal” ( France in 1907) is considered the first independent newsreel . The forerunners of the weekly newsreel were the “ topicality films ”, which had been imported from France to Germany since 1896 and were very popular. From 1911 such films were also produced in Germany . The first major German newsreel is the Messter Week , which was first shown on October 23, 1914. The first newsreel in Austria appeared in September 1914 with the war journal of the Viennese art film industry ( see also: History of the newsreel in Austria ). Comparable institutions had established themselves internationally. There was an international exchange of images between the various national newsreels.

First German newsreel cinema in Berlin (September 1931)

Up until 1940 there were four privately produced competing newsreels in Germany. As of June 1940, they were by the Nazi centralized rulers and brought into line : The UFA produced as a consequence the German newsreel .

In the 1950s, there were specialized cinemas in many German cities - news cinemas , often near train stations - which played weekly newsreels of all kinds, including cultural and animated films, from morning until late at night. With continuous operation you could stay in the cinema as long as you like, i.e. watch the films and newsreels several times.

After the Second World War , the cinema newsreels gradually lost their importance to the new medium of television , which started in Germany in 1952 and regularly showed news programs: the Tagesschau in the Federal Republic of Germany and the current camera in the GDR .

While the television news was similar to the word news format with illustrative images, which was already widespread in the USA, the newsreel retained its format despite criticism of its one-sided presentation and further increased the entertainment content .

Contrary to the requirements of the Allies, the newsreel was owned by the state, but this was concealed from the public. It served the Adenauer government to control public opinion, as a showcase for the economic miracle, for political advertising and to present a West-oriented Germany to other countries.

Content and form

The content of the newsreels was broad; acts of war usually played a major role. Newsreels were an important medium of propaganda, especially in times of war and under dictatorial regimes . During the recording by the film reporters of the propaganda company in World War II , emphasis was placed on a strong aestheticization and stylization, which was further increased in the course of post-production , in particular through editing and music dubbing. The wartime newsreel should not primarily act as an information medium, but rather as a "medium of impression".

While the UFA Tonwoche, which was shown until 1940, had a playing time of 11 minutes at 1000 feet, the German newsreel broadcast afterwards had between 2000 and 2600 feet with a playing time of around 20 to 30 minutes.

Hans Magnus Enzensberger dedicated an article published in the Frankfurter Hefte to the weekly newsreels in 1957 , which criticized the superficiality of the reporting and contained the following characterization:

“The information value and topicality of the show are minimal. The elements used are standardized to such an extent that the same stereotypical patterns recur several times even in a single sequence. The brevity of the individual stories (twelve numbers averaging 30 seconds in length) leads to an emotional rollercoaster between idyll and detonation. The loud acoustic background reinforces the psychological pressure of the pictures. The style ideal of the newsreel is ballistic: it wants to strike. "

Overview of individual newsreels


  • Messter newsreel, first published in 1914
  • Ufa week (silent film; first time September 17, 1925)
  • Ufa Tonwoche (September 10, 1930– June 19, 1940 No. 1–511)
  • Tobis weekly newsreel (1938–1940; previously Bavaria weekly newsreel)
  • The German newsreel (June 25, 1940 to March 22, 1945; No. 512–755)
  • Deulig Week (silent film; 1920–1931)
  • Deulig Tonwoche (January 6, 1932 to February 1939; No. 1–370)
  • Fox's Sounding Newsreel (1930–1940 and 1950–1978)
  • Ufa Europe Week (February 1944 to January 1945; Nos. 50–100)
  • Ufa sound week abroad (1943–1945)
  • Descheg Monthly Show (March 1942 to April 1944; No. 1–26)
  • Panorama Color Monthly Show (1944–1945)
  • Welt im Film (newsreel of the British and American occupation forces in Germany, from May 1945) until June 1952
  • New German newsreel (January 1950 to May 1963)
  • The time under the microscope (continuation of the NDW June 1963 to August 1969)
  • Look into the world (1951– January 1987)
  • The eyewitness (GDR, February 19, 1946 to December 19, 1980)
  • Welt im Bild (July 1952 to July 1956)
  • Ufa newsreel (from August 1956 to June 1977)
  • TV program Wochenspiegel (ARD) (January 4, 1953 to August 24, 2014)


  • Gaumont Actualités
  • Pathé Journal
  • Éclair Journal
  • Actualités Françaises

Great Britain

  • Pathé News (1910 to 1970)


  • Settimana Incom
  • Caleidoscopio CIAC
  • Film giornale SEDI
  • Mondo Libero ASTRA
  • panorama


While it belonged to Germany between March 1938 and the end of the war in 1945, the UFA Tonwoche was shown; from September 7, 1939, only this was allowed to be shown until it was included in the German newsreel .

The first Austrian newsreels after the Second World War were the Austrian newsreels , which were shown in May 1945, and several editions that were produced with material that was already available but were then banned. This was followed by Die Welt im Film , a joint production by the British and US occupation forces in Austria . This newsreel was published until 1949.


  • Jornal Português


  • Ciné-Journal Suisse (1923–1936, Office Cinématographique, Lausanne, then Cinégram AG, Geneva)
  • Ciné-Journal Suisse , Swiss Film Weekly (1940–1975, Cinégram AG, Geneva; last producer: Max Dora)

On April 16, 1940, the Federal Council decided to create a Swiss film weekly "to ensure security in the country and maintain neutrality". This was intended to counteract the overwhelming presence of foreign newsreels (especially from National Socialist Germany). According to the directives of the film chamber, it was produced by a private company. The cinema owners were obliged to subscribe and show them. The Swiss newsreel closed a sensitive gap that had arisen when the French newsreel was discontinued.


United States

Individual evidence

  1. a b Mark Rüdiger: 'Golden 50s' or 'Bleierne Zeit' ?: Historical images of the 50s on German television, 1959-1989 . transcript Verlag, 2014, ISBN 978-3-8394-2735-4 , pp. 65- ( ).
  2. Karl Stamm: The "experience" of the war in the German newsreel. On the aestheticization of politics in the “Third Reich”. In: Berthold Hinz, Hans-Ernst Mittig, Wolfgang Schächen (eds.): "The decoration of violence". Art and media in fascism. Giessen 1979, ISBN 3-87038-058-6 , p. 119.
  3. Hans Magnus Enzensberger: Outland. The anatomy of a newsreel. In: Details I: Awareness Industry. Frankfurt am Main 1964, pp. 122-123.
  4. see also , Excerpts from the "Austria Wochenschau" online ( memento of the original from February 13, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Cinémathèque suisse: Schweizer Filmwochenschau ( Memento of the original of May 27, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. ( Memento of the original from August 13, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /


  • Ulrike Bartels: The newsreel in the Third Reich: Development and function of a mass medium with special consideration of ethnic-national content . Lang, Frankfurt 2004, ISBN 3-631-52570-2 (Zugl .: Göttingen, Univ., Diss., 1996).
  • Bernd Kleinhans: "The sharpest substitute for reality". The history of the cinema newsreel. Röhrig Universitätsverlag, St. Ingbert 2013, ISBN 978-3-86110-503-9 .
  • Hans Petschar, Georg Schmid: Memory & Vision. The legitimation of Austria in pictures. A semi-historical analysis of the Austria Wochenschau 1949–1960. With a contribution by Herbert Hayduck. Academic Printing and Publishing Company, Graz 1990, ISBN 3-201-01510-5 .
  • Sigrun Lehnert: work, leisure and strike in the cinema newsreel in West and East Germany from the 1950s to the mid-1960s . In: Work - Movement - History , Issue I / 2018, pp. 110-133.

Web links

Commons : Wochenschau  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Wochenschau  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations