Graz, Stadt der Volkserhebung, Dokumentation über den „Umbruch“ 1938 in Graz (Graz, City of the Popular Uprising, documentary about the ‘radical change’ in Graz in 1938) Hanns Wagula, 1938

In the City of the “Popular Uprising”

In 1938, the commercial artist and filmmaker Hanns Wagula documented the “Anschluss” in Graz, the “City of the Popular Uprising”. The film shows the marching in of units of the German Wehrmacht, the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Hitler Youth, and the League of German Girls (BDM) into the inner city of Graz on 13 March 1938. The propagandistic film forges a bridge from free meals given away by young women from the League of German Girls to the programmatic “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer“ (One people, one nation, one leader). For this, Wagula was honoured with the “Wanderpreis für den besten Berichts- und Propagandafilm staatspolitischer Art 1940” by the Reichspropagandaleitung, the central party propaganda office of the NSDAP.

Film (clip), 13:00 min (original version 39:06 min)
Graz Museum

The Artist Hanns Wagula

Hanns Wagula began working as a commercial graphic artist in the mid-1920s and gained particular importance in the field of poster art in Styria. After initial sympathies for National Socialism, Wagula was increasingly opposed to the system in the final years of the war. His artistic and cinematic work was highly appreciated during the Nazi era. Several of his films, among them “Graz, Stadt der Volkserhebung” (Graz, the City of the Popular Uprising; the “Umbruchsfilm”., i.e. “film of radical change”), were honoured by the Ministry of Propaganda.

“City of the Popular Uprising“

Graz City Hall was the first public building in Austria where the swastika flag was hoisted—even before the “Anschluss” to National Socialist Germany. Styria, and Graz in particular, were a stronghold of illegal National Socialists. For this reason, Hitler agreed to the city’s request to bear the title “City of the Popular Uprising”—which the city administration was to make active use of from then on. The painting by the Styrian artist Julius Wegerer, Graz, the City of the Popular Uprising, which also served as a template for postcards, was presented to the “Fuehrer” as an honorary citizen by the Municipality of Graz on his 51st birthday.

Graz, die Stadt der Volkserhebung (Postkarte nach einem Gemälde von Prof. Wegerer. Das Originalbild wurde von der Stadt Graz dem Führer als Ehrenbürger zum 51. Geburtstag überreicht), Julius Wegerer, Postkarte: Fritz, Photo-Kopieranstalt Gratl, 1940 © GrazMuseum