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Nazi-Era Filmmaker Visits Russia

June 21, 2001

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) _ Nazi-era propagandist Leni Riefenstahl said Thursday that she does not regret her work but wishes people would show her more kindness. Officials in Russia’s second-largest city have banned public screenings of her films.

The 98-year-old filmmaker and photographer is best known for the 1934 Nazi classic ``Triumph of the Will,″ both reviled and renowned as the best propaganda film ever made.

Her visit to St. Petersburg came on the eve of the 60th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union. Her films were to be screened at a documentary film festival.

But officials in St. Petersburg on Wednesday decided to prohibit public screenings of ``Triumph of the Will″ and ``Olympia,″ Riefenstahl’s film about the 1936 Berlin summer Olympics, after residents protested, TV-6 television reported. The films will be shown at closed screenings.

``I don’t regret what I did, but I always wish that toward me, as toward every person, there could be more forgiveness and kindness,″ she said at a news conference in St. Petersburg.

Riefenstahl was shunned in Germany after World War II, but she later regained respect with her photographs of the African Nuba tribe and her underwater photography.

Anti-Nazi emotions are still strong in Russia 56 years after the end of World War II, especially in St. Petersburg, then called Leningrad, which suffered a nearly three-year Nazi blockade. The Soviet Union lost some 27 million people in the war.

The festival’s organizers said they were disappointed at the outcry over Riefenstahl’s films.

``We made films about (Soviet dictator Josef) Stalin _ why is this worse?″ said festival director Mikhail Litvyakov. ``We need to learn professional tolerance.″

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