The Arm Behind the Army is a sensational propaganda film produced by the US Army Signal Corps in 1942 to encourage the home front to participate in war production -- the "Arm Behind the Army". The film uses stock footage of both Japan and Germany, along with driving score and urgent narration, to promote "outproducing the Axis". This type of appeal was especially important in this era, as there was worry that labor unrest and strikes could torpedo the war effort.
The film begins with a short outline of American military history, noting that each war has advanced military technology a little further, from the muskets of the Revolutionary War in 1776, to Thaddeus Lowe's observation ballon in the Civil War, the gatling gun, and the tanks and airplanes of the First World War. The various arms of the US Army are introduced: infantry, artillery, air corps, signal corps. These are Uncle Sam's fist, the narrator notes, and behind it is American labor "Uncle Sam's muscle" the arm behind the army.
The narrator notes "Behind the desks, behind the drawing board, behind the benches, on the assembly lines, American industry is making the greatest production effort in history to supply our armed forces with the weapons of war." (Great assembly line footage in airplane factories at the 3:15 mark onward).
The film briefly explains how dissention among Austrian and Czech management and labor led to the ruin of both, and how French factories were left idle while France fell. It noted the terrible working conditions in Axis-occupied territory, the coerced labor, the ending of old-age benefits, unions and "all the advances that labor every made." The film ends with a picture of a soldier and a picture of an industrial worker superimposed on a battlefield, noting that wherever the soldier is, the worker is there too.
The Skoda works is shown at the 4:10 mark, after Hitler entered Czechoslovakia, followed by the Nazi occupation of Poland at 4:40. The film shows Polish prisoners and underscores that they are being used as force labor, and contains footage in which a Polish officer is denounced by a German collaborator. In images that were unusual in this era, before the Holocaust was widely known, the film shows stacks of naked bodies in a mass grave (5:09).
"The success of the Army on the firing line depends upon the success of labor and industry on the production line. And the security of American industry and labor depends upon the success of the American Army. An Axis victory means the enslavement of both labor and industry. The film shows what happened in Vienna, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Holland, and France: cities destroyed, industry taken over by the Nazis, labor conscripted, men, women, and children subjected to terror and starvation. The Axis has tremendous resources, but so have the Allies -- they have the mills of Krupp, we have the mills of Birmingham; they have the Rumanian oil, we have the oil of Oklahoma, Texas, and California. This war is industry's war, labor's war to outproduce the Axis. From the production line to the firing line must come tanks and planes and guns for victory.""
School Management gave the film this review during the war: "This is one of the best films on the war effort, as it makes a positive appeal for unity, both between management and labor, and between civilian war workers and the armed forces. There is an artistic quality in the rhythm and contrasts of the images. Suitable for a variety of applications in school and community."
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com