Holocaust documentary whose horrors remained unseen reaches cinemas – after 70 years

[From The Guardian]

In 1945, Alfred Hitchcock advised on a film that would catalogue the atrocities uncovered in concentration camps by Allied troops. Now the Imperial War Museum has completed the film with previously unseen footage.

Skeletal figures, too weak to move, wait limply for help. At gunpoint, blank-faced SS officers manhandle the twisted bodies of the prisoners they starved to death, slinging them into gigantic burial pits that will eventually be filled with thousands of corpses. Bullet-riddled bodies and skulls smashed into grotesque shapes line country roads. Having frantically tried to dig his way out of a barn where hundreds were being burned to death, a man’s body lies wedged under a wall where he was shot by German troops.

The catalogue of horrors uncovered by the film German Concentration Camps Factual Survey is unremitting, but they remained unseen for decades.

After production got under way in 1945, it was never completed and simply shelved. Only extracts have previously emerged, notably in the 1985 TV film A Painful Reminder. The story of the film, perhaps best known for the involvement of Alfred Hitchcock, was recently told in the documentary Night Will Fall, released in cinemas last September and screened on Channel 4 in January. Now, however, German Concentration Camps Factual Survey, restored and completed to the film-makers’ original specifications, has gone on public release for the first time, with a two-week run at the BFI Southbank in London, and further screenings in May through the Picturehouse chain of cinemas.

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