Death camp guilt doc gets Berlin screening

4 February 2014

A "lost" documentary intended to confront the Germans with guilt about the World War II death camps has been reconstructed and can been seen for the first time at Berlinale.

The 70-minute German Concentration Camps Factual Survey - shot by Russian, American and British camera teams at the end of the war - can now be seen in its intended form.

Berlinale-logo-2014-2-DIWhen bringing the German-occupied territories of Europe and finally Germany itself under their control in 1944 and 1945, the Allied forces were determined to end the spectre of Nazism by way of propaganda.

Hitchcock was enlisted by his friend and patron Sidney Bernstein to help with the documentary...but the project was shelves as it was thought detrimental to post-war reconciliation.

When British troops liberated Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 1945, the cameras of the Psychological Warfare Division documented in detail what they found there.

Among the more than 10,000 dead and 15,000 dying, they filmed the industrial cost of the Holocaust with the intention of plainly demonstrating to the German people the enormity of their war crimes.

However, even the legendary Hitchcock’s putative involvement was unable to prevent the ambitious work from disappearing into a dusty vault in late 1945.

A fragment entitled Memory of the Camps was presented at the Berlinale Forum in 1984 and shown on US television a year later.

This milestone in documentary film has been reconstructed and extended and can now finally be viewed in its intended form.