Just this week, in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps, HBO released this remake of a BBC produced documentary from 1945.
It features footage that was used only during the Nuremberg trials that led to the conviction of Nazi war criminals.
British soldiers were trained as cameramen and sent in to record the findings of the Allied troops on first arriving at Bergen Belsen. The raw footage was sent back to England to be compiled into a film that would provide evidence to the German people of the atrocities. Alfred Hitchcock was among those who contributed his talents.
There is some controversy over the fact that the word “Jew” was only used once, referring instead to “people of alternate religions”.
It was never released in Europe as intended, and was buried until discovered by folks from the British War Museum and re-purposed in this production.
It is grim, raw, horrifying and almost impossible to watch.
It references a 1945 BBC radio broadcast from war correspondent and eye-witness Richard Dimbleby, which I found to be even more compelling, and include here.
I had a personal experience with this issue as a child. One of my father’s best friends was among the U.S. troops who liberated these camps. He took his own photos and kept a dark, leather bound album with graphic photos, including close ups of the crematorium ovens.
These were not meant for a child’s eyes. His own children were much older than my sister and I, and gave us access. I didn’t understand what I was seeing, but I never forgot it.
The trailer for “Night Will Fall”: