YouTube censors anti-Nazi documentary Prelude to War

An archivists appeal was rejected.


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At present, it is impossible to moderate all the content that exists on the large multimedia platforms, as it has been seen repeatedly on YouTube, who have removed videos that do not seem to break the rules of the site – the most recent case being the film “Prelude to War” by the filmmaker Frank Capra.

The story behind “Prelude to War”

This film has its origin during World War II. The United States sought public support, so they decided to commission content in favor of their cause. That’s when they started doing business with big Hollywood stars, including filmmaker Frank Capra.

With the support of the government, the famous director of the 30s produced a series of films under the banner “Why We Fight”, with the first being “Prelude to War”. Prior to deployment, it was compulsory for all US soldiers to view the film and the feature won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1942. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill also encouraged the film to be played in British theaters.

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Beyond being historical content about the events of WWII from the United States’ perspective, the film has no image that, in theory, violates YouTube’s conditions. However, it seems that a quick review has determined otherwise.

YouTube policies and their application

Last summer, the mainstream media was very angry with YouTube for having “Nazi” content, so YouTube decided to update its policies to cover a much wider scope of content – changes that caused history channels and even tabletop game and model channels to be hit by the changes.

Now they ban all videos that “promote or glorify the Nazi ideology”. However, this is not done in “Prelude to War” – quite the opposite, which is why archivist Carl Malamud (who uploaded the video) appealed to the site’s decision. But he was rejected.

It sounds crazy that an anti-Nazi film financed by the United States government and made by the famous Frank Capra goes against the rules set by YouTube. In addition to being an important historical material, this does not promote any Nazi ideology. So what has been the cause of its elimination?

Most likely, some moderator (or bot) saw some Germans celebrate Hitler in the film and consider this to be Nazi propaganda, without bother to quickly research the context.

According to Malamud, the most ridiculous of this decision is that it is not the first time he uploaded this film to the site, so, while one version has already been banned, the other version remains available on YouTube.


Fabrizio Bulleri
Fabrizio Bulleri is a tech reporter with several years of experience covering the Asian tech market. He likes traveling and keeping up with everything digital-related. [email protected]