“The Kaiser, The Beast of Berlin” may have been one of the best pieces of propaganda against the German Empire produced during World War I.  It played to crowds everywhere, with sensational advertising.  Today, however, it is a lost film, one of the American Film Institute’s “Ten Most Wanted” lost pictures.

It was a film that had a lot going for it.  It starred Rupert Julian, who also directed, as the Kaiser.  He looked so much like the Kaiser that he would reprise the role several times.  Also appearing was Elmo Lincoln, now remembered by film buffs as the first actor to play Tarzan, The Ape Man.  There was also The Man of a Thousand Faces, Lon Chaney, as the German Chancellor Bettmann-Hollweg.

Publicity for the film certainly left no doubt about its viewpoint.  Consider these lines:

“An Amazing Expose of the Intimate Life of the Mad Dog of Europe.”

“WARNING!  Any Person Throwing Mud at this Poster (showing the Kaiser’s image) will NOT be Prosecuted.”

“This Startling Photodrama Brings . . . Frequent Outbursts of Applause . . . Numerous Ringing Cheers . . . A Number of Hisses . . .Hundreds of Tear-Dimmed Eyes . . . and A Burning Hatred for the Kaiser!”

It apparently showed at the Convention Hall in Kansas City in mid-April 1918.  It played in Ellinwood in early May at the Knights of Columbus Opera House and later in the month at the Echo Theater of Great Bend.

And this is what we have of the film, now in the Kansas Museum of History collections in Topeka–toilet paper:  http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/313970

This appears to have been used, so to speak, in promoting the film.  It came to the Museum from Ellinwood in 2013, fairly well preserved, with it’s message to “Do Your Bit.”  It currently can be seen in the exhibit, “Captured:  The Extraordinary Adventure of Col. Hughes.”


Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.