One of the most intriguing facts of the Nazi Party membership rolls is how many of its adherents belonged to what today would be considered the green movement. Even many ‘greens' who were not Nazi Party members, like Leni Riefenstahl (1902-2003), the infamous propaganda filmmaker for the Third Reich, became caught up in the new movement. Nazi biologist Walther Schoenichen asserted that National Socialism was the political fulfillment of more 100 years of German Romanticism. With its strong emphasis upon celebrating the authenticity of the German folk people (das volk) indigenously rooted in the natural landscape of their homeland in great contrast to the liberalism of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, German Romanticism is one of the great foundational pillars of modern environmentalism. While in hindsight, some environmental historians may debate over how green the Nazis were in actual practice, the National Socialist aspirations for a greener Germany cannot be denied. In the 1920's Leni Riefenstahl was a tomboy movie star who played in popular German mountain films. She starred in such silent, snowy movies as The Holy Mountain in 1926 and The White Hell of Pitz Palu in 1928, not to mention SOS Iceberg in 1933. Weimar Germany was captivated by these realistic nature movies. From his memoirs, Albert Speer recalled that many of his German compatriots sought what he described "a close contact with nature." He went on to say that their love affair with the great outdoors "was not merely a romantic protest against the narrowness of middle-class life. We were also escaping from the demands of a world growing increasingly complicated." It was in fact a world which they largely disdained, full of varied responsibilities and demands of them which they would rather not do. In their mind, such an ‘artificial' world could be overcome through mountain climbing, "often, from the mountain tops, we looked down upon a gray layer of cloud over the distant plain. Down there lived what to our minds were wretched people; we thought we stood high above them in every sense."
They were looking for purity, simplicity and peace without the modern stress of working and making a living, which was especially difficult in the trying times of the Weimar Republic, "we felt that the world around us was out of balance. In nature, in the mountains and river valleys, the harmony of creation could still be felt. The more virginal the mountains, the lonelier the river valleys, the more they drew us." Their life in Weimar Germany was characterized by depression and defeat under laissez faire capitalism, but these harsh realities and embarrassments could all be escaped from in the lofty alpine hills where such considerations somehow became unimportant. Abandoned and forsaken by the Weimar Republic, many of them would unfortunately find romantic solace in the isolationist ideology of the Nazi Party.
In 1932, Riefenstahl made her own romantic nature film called Blue Light which highlighted the evils of modernism and capitalism. However, Riefenstahl is infamously known as the director of the notorious 1935 propaganda film Triumph of the Will that even manages to showcase the Nazi green jobs agenda of the time. In one particular scene at the colossal Nuremberg rally, militant, uniformed Germans are shown with shovels in their hands instead of rifles as they cry out, "we plant trees!" Later, Riefenstahl made the highly acclaimed documentary film Olympia shot at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The film strongly emphasized the competitive natural strength of the athletes. While Jesse Owens may have gone home with four gold medals and four oak trees as gifts from the Fuhrer, Germany came away with most of the other gold medals.
Riefenstahl became enthralled with Hitler the first time she heard him speak. She became convinced he could lead Germany out of its post-WW I international political chaos. Riefenstahl stayed loyal to Hitler well into the heights of the war, only to be gravely disappointed in the end (like many Germans), especially as the horrors of the Holocaust became fully exposed. She would spend the rest of her life in a vain attempt to disassociate herself from her Nazi past. Even though she was officially de-nazified by both the American and French authorities, her unapologetic defense of her actions during the Nazi era remains unconvincing to this day.
After the war, Leni Riefenstahl followed in the footsteps of Charles Lindbergh. Lucky Lindy had Nazi sympathies in the 1930's, and later became a radical environmentalist. Over the years he became especially intrigued by indigenous races. Riefenstahl followed suit by moving away from her modern Nazi tribalism when she became extremely fascinated with black indigenous races. Riefenstahl relocated to a remote African village to make a documentary film of an almost extinct group of Sudanese called the Nuba. Instead of protecting the indigenous Germans from international Jewish Communism and Capitalism, something needs to be done to protect the primitive Nuba from corrupting, globalist forces. However, the documentary was never completed. Some have speculated that the reason why the documentary was never made was because she was a perfectionist. Late in life, Riefenstahl became involved with Greenpeace. She died in 2003 at the age of 101. Robert von Dassanowsky, the director of Film Studies at the University of Colorado, acutely noticed back in 2001 that James Cameron's epic movie Titanic is based on the German mountain films that Riefenstahl starred in. Although largely ignoring Riefenstahl's compromised relationship with the Nazis, von Dassanowsky makes a compelling case that Cameron's Titanic is a German mountain film set upon the sea ice of the North Atlantic.
Von Dassanowsky even went so far to strongly suggest that the heroine in the Titanic, Rose, is actually based on Riefenstahl's personal character. He then intimates that Cameron may have indeed directed the Titanic to show how Riefenstahl's untamed feminism eventually overcame her compromised relationship with the chauvinism of the Nazis, represented by her dictatorial fiancé on the ship, whom she never married. In the end, Riefenstahl, like Rose, redeemed herself from the dictatorial Nazi regime.
Even more startling, Cameron also borrowed from Nazi Germany's own version of the Titanic made in 1943. In the Nazi version, the hero of the story is a German officer who blames the English profit crazed capitalistic owners of the ship for sinking the Titanic. In the end, Nature's iceberg proves to be more powerful than all of the superficial worries and concerns of those attached to the manipulations of the stock market. A romance also develops between a German musician and an already engaged woman. This romance, however, is left undeveloped in the Nazi film. Cameron's movie seemingly picks up where the Nazis left off by focusing on the romance between Rose and Jake. Jake, of course, is the drifter played by Leonardo Dicaprio who upsets the pre-arranged marriage plans of Rose's aristocratic fiancé. One also wonders if Cameron's Avatar was made with Riefenstahl's never completed Nuba documentary film in mind? Instead of the Nuba, Cameron calls the nature worshiping indigenous tribe in Avatar the Na'vi. Just exactly who are these Na'vi anyway? The answer to that question may be much more compromising than many might assume. Indeed, it was Jewish historian Dr. Harold Brackman who noted that what unsettled him the most about Cameron's Avatar was that it borrowed heavily from the Neo-Nazism of Savitri Devi. It was Savitri Devi who helped transition the Nazi blood and soil mythology into a Neo-Nazi New Age environmentalism that lurks in the background of the modern green movement. To add more gasoline to the fire is that James Cameron's hero in both films, Jake, is based on Jack London's own character. This means that Social Darwinism and the call of the wild certainly means something to James Cameron. It also must be pointed out that while the Nazis did burn Jack London's Marxist-Socialist books, they left alone his wilderness adventure stories. That Jack London was also a white racist only compromises the issues further. Thus, James Cameron has managed to give the world two spectacular movies starring Jack London and Leni Riefenstahl, all decorated in green socialist themes and wrapped up with romantic streaks of multicultural, indigenous racism. Certainly James Cameron loathes the mythical Hitler of the modern leftist imagination that trumpets the Nazis as an extreme right wing movement thanks to 80 years of Marxist and Socialist propaganda. On the other hand, do we really believe Cameron does not know Hitler was called "Avatar" by Savitri Devi in her 1958 Neo-Nazi manifesto called "The Lightning and the Sun?" Put in another way, can the shift to New Age indigenous environmentalism atone for the racist political biology of the Nazi past like getting out of a previous bad marriage? While James Cameron certainly thinks so, the verdict is still out with regard to that particular ecological question. Indeed, Luc Ferry, the author of "The New Ecological Order" wrote that "we have to be ignorant or prejudiced not to see it: Nazism contains within it, for reasons that are in no way accidental, the beginnings of an authentic concern for preserving ‘natural,' which is to say, here again, ‘original' peoples." Ferry then goes on to establish the surprising link between Nazi authenticity and modern environmental multiculturalism, "like the aesthetics of sentiment and deep ecology, which also place new value on primitive peoples, mountain folk, or American Indians, the National Socialist conception of ecology encompasses the notion that the Naturvolker, the ‘natural peoples,' achieve a perfect harmony between their surroundings and their customs. This is even the most certain sign of the superiority of their ways over the liberal world of uprootedness and perpetual mobility. Their culture, similar to animal ways of life, is a prolongation of nature." Thus, the distinction between National Socialism and a multicultural national geographic is not as big of a repentance as many would like to presume.