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When bringing the German-occupied territories of Europe and finally Germany itself under their control in 1944 and 1945, the Allied forces didn’t only have military liberation on their mind. They also knew they had to put an end to the spectre of Nazism by way of propaganda. Russians, Americans, and British camera teams and photographers arrived with no idea of the atrocities they would capture on film. 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 carried out the hardest job of their lives. Their footage was meant for a film to be produced the same year to confront the Germans with their guilt.
In the end, it turned out differently. Even Alfred Hitchcock’s involvement was unable to prevent this ambitious work from disappearing into the archives in late 1945. A fragment entitled Memory of the Camps was presented at the 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. (Christoph Terhechte)

Production: Imperial War Museum, London
Format: DCP 1:1.33 (4:3), Black/White
Running time: 70 min
Language: English

Photo: IWM FLM 1232, Imperial War Museums

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur