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Global Politics on Screen - A Japanese Film on the Lytton Commission in 1932

A Japanese propaganda film of the early 1930s apparently documents the League of Nations' diplomatic efforts in Manchuria, one of the most contested regions of the time. Students of Heidelberg University’s History Department and scholars of the Cluster Asia-Europe analyse this film by using the opportunities of the film annotations database Padma. Testing the potential of new technological tools, this project is committed to collaborative research and seeks to combine established models of historical interpretation with new opportunities provided by digital humanities.  

In September 1931, an attack on a railway line near Mukden and the following Japanese invasion of Manchuria initiated the way to the Second World War. The Japanese South Manchuria Railway Company filmed the League of Nations commission of inquiry which was called to assess the situation on site. The film is an example how Japanese propaganda tried to influence the global public about the legitimacy of the newly proclaimed state Manchukuo - turning the role of the League of Nations from investigator of Sino-Japanese troubles to that of a welcomed guest of the new state of Manchukuo.

The project focuses on the analysis of the Japanese documentary while additionally presenting links to further information and material about the topic, hereby providing a start platform to explore the 'Manchurian Incident' and its historical contexts from a new point of view.


The film analysis and an annotated version of the film are publicly available.