The March Toward War: The <em>March of Time</em> as Document and Propaganda
Introduction The Time Empire MOT as Document Marching into War Voice of Conscience Timeline/Index
The Shadow of War
Germany's Rising Power
The World Prepares for War
America Prepares for War
American Neutrality
Failure of the League
Failure of Versailles
England's Failures
Ambiguous Russia
Plight of the Jews
Humanizing Dictators
Americans All
War Zones
Italy Seizes Ethiopia
Japanese Conquests
Chinese Resistance
Spain's Civil War
The Mediterranean
Austria
Czechoslovakia
Poland
Pearl Harbor
 New citizens

Americans All?

 Map before World War I
(1) The title shot puts an exclamation point on the topic, literally and figuratively with the symbol of immigration, Lady Liberty. (2) Immigrants swear in as citizens.
Pledge allegiance
Coming off the boat
(3) The latest refugees include "scholars and artists, doctors and scientists." (4) Hopeful immigrants, below, strike up viewer sympathy.
On the boat
Studying for citizenship
(5) Immigrants study in an Americanization class.
 

"Americans All," February 1941 Play movie

With the war in sight, The March of Time sets about preparing Americans to both accept immigrants and be wary of those who might be enemy agents.

Appropriately enough, this issue discussing the importance of immigrants to America begins with immigrants pledging allegiance to the flag to attain their citizenship (2). Because of the Nazi conquests, the narrator notes, hundreds of Europe's men of genius and talent have come to the United States—they offer "new blood" and "new brains." At the same time, American immigration is strictly limited, and every applicant's background is investigated. A score of recent bills are aimed at new aliens, including one bill that wants to deport all immigrants with connections to radical groups. But there are 5 million law-abiding foreign-born, the narrator points out, and its unfair to mistreat them because of a select few.

In fact, the role of immigrants is important to American history, the Voice of Time continues. [Shots show a number of fabled immigration centers, including New Orleans' French Quarter].

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Within the past century almost 40 million entered America for a new life. Immigrants' "blood and sweat" build many buildings, roads, railroads, and more. New York's five burroughs show the waves of immigrants, a cross-section of all nationalities, races and creeds [shows images of Jews]. Irish-Americans were "once strangers in a strange land," and now they're the backbone of the Catholic Church (10-11). German-Americans are descendants of the first political exiles and found employment "not as unskilled laborers" but as skilled artisans (12). Within a generation, one-fifth of the Nordic and Swedish population migrated to the new world, and "no farms are more prosperous and productive than those worked by Scandinavians." And now, with American industry stepping up to meet defense needs, the United States is dependent on Eastern European workers.

Immigrants throughout history Scandinavian-American farm

(6) The March of Time notes the historical importance of immigrants. (7) Scandinavians keep idyllic farms.

New York City Jewish American (8) The blood and sweat of immigrants built American cities. (9) All "races and creeds" live in America.
Irish cops Irish dancing (10) While March of Time thinks it's being progressive by welcoming Irish-Americans, the two images offered here—Irish cops (10) and jig-dancing Irish-Americans (11)—offer the usual stereotypes.
German artisan Germans in regalia (12) German immigrants are the more desirable artisans and craftsmen. (13) Germans have brought a certain easy living, or "gemutlichkeit," an attitude that has influenced the whole nation.
Japanese-American Boy Scouts Only native born need apply (14) The Boy Scout movement has helped "[weld] together all races and creeds into a single united democracy." (15) But war-time hysteria has taken hold.
Communist rally
(16) Demonstrations in Russia show the communist threat, while (17) Japanese-American fishermen face suspicion at home.
Japanese-American fishermen
(18) Italian-language newspapers appear to be pro-Italy.
Italian-language newspapers
 

Although illiteracy is widespread among some immigrants and some are slow to adapt to American life, according to the narrator, there's hope for immigrants to become part of the phrase he uses: "Americans all." The issue points to foreign-born leaders in government, such as Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter.

As war approaches, there are already manifestations of war hysteria against immigrants, the narrator says (15). "Most fears are proved groundless," he explains, but there are a few who try to undermine the United States. [The scene cuts to communist rallyers carrying large posters of Stalin and Lenin, 16.] American communists "have shouted loudly against any aid to Britain." Japanese spies use loyal Japanese as cover, and some who work in the West Coast fishing fleets are suspected of being Japanese navy men (17). Of Italian-Americans, "not 200,000 have fascist leanings." He goes on to note the biggest Italian daily is impressed by fascist Italy (18). There are Nazi organizations in 35 U.S. cities, and they appeal to German-Americans on the basis of Hitler's doctrine: "once a German, always a German (19)." Nazi newspapers are anti-Semitic, opposed to democracy, and opposed to American aid to Britain, the narrator explains (20). However, the Voice of Time pointedly states, most German-Americans reject Nazi doctrine and "are steadfast in their loyalty to the American ideal (21)." As proof that most immigrants are acceptable, the narrator points to crowded Americanization classes, where immigrants see in the United States the last stronghold of democracy. "Those who built the country, have always come forward to preserve it," he announces (22). But the offered image includes only white males.

American Nazis England Can't Win, Says Newspaper

(19) Nazi groups are alive and well in America (other images show Americans singing "Seig Heil!" (20) and German newspapers denounce aid to Britain. If you click on the image, you'll see it's actually American Charles Lindbergh's statement.

God bless America flag Soldiers (21) Still, a patriotic flag adorns one sample German immigrant family's home, as the March of Time seeks to reassure that German agents are fewer in number than some may think. (22) The immigrants' sons can be counted on to serve in wartime, as names like "Scarpello," "Silverman," and "Karakassian" are called out in a military roll call. The faces are all white, however.