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COLLATE: Source edition - Conclusion
The comparison between censorship cases of varying forms in Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany shows a clear pattern, with a few gaps and contradictions. The treatment of the films selected in the source edition can be seen as exemplary for standard practice.

Censorship practices
Censorship practice in Austria was liberal compared with the other 2 countries. There, films were usually given a permit for public screenings, and furthermore, they were shown uncut. Appeals were very rare.

The other extreme was Germany which had strict, thorough and exhausting censorship. Films were banned there much more often than in neighboring countries. Additionally, when they passed censors, they were often cut, and sometimes quite extensively. Censors not only made active use of youth censorship rules but also determined "restricted screening conditions". Such cases meant that films were given a viewing permit only for a restricted group of people. This was a peculiarity of the Reichlichtspielgesetz (Reich Moving Picture Law). Appeals were quite normal and were a standard part of everyday German censorship practice.

Czechoslovakia fit somewhere in between: Films were banned more often than in Austria, but less often than in Germany. The films that passed were cut but no to the extent they were in Germany. Appeals were provided for in the law but unusual in actual practice. The frequency of appeals did not by any means reach the German norm.

BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN was approved immediately in Austria and was shown uncut in 1926, but in Czechoslovakia it was only authorized after an appeal and then cut down from 1480 m to 1394 m. In Germany, however, the film was evaluated six times. The first version brought forward was 1617 m long and the last approved version of POTEMKIN in October of that year was 1421m long. The 6 selected horror films confirm this pattern in its entirety.

The available Austrian censorship documents do not provide any details about the reasons behind the decisions. In official “censorship decisions” from Germany, however, the detailed discussions between censors, the censored and evaluators were recorded with utmost precision in the minutes of the proceedings. Some decisions are over thirty pages long. This makes it possible to make clear statements on the lines argumentation that were used and on the official explanations for the decisions, even though it has become widely known that unofficial, unnamed reasons also played a role, as the BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN case well proves.

Czechoslovakia, once again, took the middle road. There was no detailed explanation for the decisions but some of them were named. For that reason, one knows today that, for example, the German and Czech authorities named "a threat to public order" as a reason for the banning of BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN.

Legal Situation
Germany and Czechoslovakia had more in common when it comes to censorship issues than they did with Austria. One of the common factors relates to the legal situation of censorship: Clear legal regulations defined film censorship in Germany and Czechoslovakia, whereas the situation in Austria was murkier. Film censorship was abolished in this country in 1926, yet films could not be shown before they were presented to a magistrate and were granted a screening card.

The structure of censorship boards in Germany and Czechoslovakia was similar: The board consisted of a chairman and many representatives of various societal interest groups, such as art, literature and youth protection organizations. Furthermore, various ministries were represented on the Czechoslovakian board whereas in Germany, state authorities took part in censorship proceedings as invited evaluators.

There was tension between regional and federal authorities regarding censorship issues in all three countries.

Through COLLATE, we have created a basis for international, comparative research in the field of film censorship. Two further subjects can be added as extensions. Firstly, the relationship between institutional and informal censorship, a subject which we can only touch upon, would be an insightful field of research. Secondly, it would be quite exciting but also very time-consuming and methodologically complicated to conduct research on the reasons for the similarities and differences in censorship practice in the three countries. It would please us greatly if our findings in COLLATE led to the establishment of further research fields.

by Laura Bezerra


Source Edition urrogat Production Introduction Censorship Regulations Battleship Potemkin Horror Films Conclusion Bibliography