Shadow of a Doubt

In feature films the director is God; in documentary films G_d is the director. Alfred Hitchcock

Photo Illustration by Emil Lendof/The Daily Beast

NIGHT WILL FALL

01.17.15

Inside Alfred Hitchcock’s Lost Holocaust Documentary

In 1945, Britain’s army film unit commissioned a sprawling doc on the liberation of Nazi concentration camps, supervised by Hitchcock. A new film explores the forgotten masterpiece.
It is, perhaps, the greatest documentary never made.Back in 1945, Sidney Bernstein, the chief of the Psychological Warfare Film Section of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, was commissioned to create the definitive documentary chronicling the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. Bernstein’s aim was, in his words, to “prove one day that this had actually happened” and have it serve as “a lesson to all mankind as well as to the Germans.”He eventually roped in his good pal, Alfred Hitchcock, to serve as the film’s supervising director. But the horrifying and heartbreaking footage of numerous concentration camps, shot by British, American, and Russian World War II soldiers as they were being liberated,

 The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture. Alfred Hitchcock

The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture.
Alfred Hitchcock

became tangled up in a complicated web of politics and artistic rows. A magnificent new HBO documentary pulls back the veil on the making of German Concentration Camps: Factual Survey.

The eye-opening film-on-a-film, Night Will Fall, will premiere January 27 on HBO. It is narrated by Helena Bonham Carter, produced by Stephen Frears and Brett Ratner, and directed by Andre Singer, who serves as president of The Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and executive produced the documentaries The Act of Killing and Werner Herzog’s Into the Abyss. It was done in concert with London’s Imperial War Museum, and took 18 months of poring over thousands of feet of film to trace the making of the unmade epic.

“Neat and tidy orchards. Well-stocked farms lined the wayside. And the British soldier did not fail to admire the place, and its inhabitants—at least, until he began to feel a smell…”

“When I first saw material, it was shattering to see; a horrific experience,” Singer tells The Daily Beast. “I’ve been in the film world a long time and seen lots and lots of footage and you think you’ll get anesthetized to it, but that isn’t the case. This is something that is once seen, never forgotten.”

Singer’s documentary opens with footage from German Concentration Camps: Factual Survey of the British 11th Armoured Division liberating the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Northern Germany on April 15, 1945. There, the Allied troops discovered a strange sight.

“Neat and tidy orchards. Well-stocked farms lined the wayside. And the British soldier did

gefilte

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not fail to admire the place, and its inhabitants—at least, until he began to feel a smell,” says a narrator in voiceover.

The British soldiers found tens of thousands of emaciated prisoners inside the camp, many of which were on the brink of death by starvation. The camera lingers on piles of naked, skeletal corpses stacked several bodies high, as well as line after line of dead children. A total of 30,000 corpses were witnessed by Allied troops, according to the film. Singer managed to track down several British soldiers who were there, and some break down in tears recalling the horrors.

“It’s very difficult to describe,” recalls survivor Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, who was 19 when Bergen-Belsen was liberated. “You’ve spent years preparing yourself to die, and you’re still here. Every British soldier looked like a God to us.”

 Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.

There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.

While Soviet intelligence had uncovered the existence of concentration camps in Poland as early as July 1944, because of the Soviet’s alleged record of falsifying atrocity reports, these warnings went largely ignored. However, once Bergen-Belsen was liberated, Bernstein decided to include footage of Russian troops liberating the Majdanek concentration camp in occupied Poland.

“We opened one warehouse. Women’s hair,” says Matvey Gershman, a member of the Soviet’s 8th Guards Army at Majdanek. “We opened the second warehouse. Children’s shoes. The third warehouse, something else: Zyklon gas in barrels. And ashes, ashes. They stored people’s ashes the way they stored women’s hair.”

Footage from Bernstein’s documentary shows Russian soldiers opening stacks of large packages the size of duffle bags and removing piles of human hair, as the camera rests on a young girl’s ponytail amid the pile in close-up. You see crematoriums filled with ashes, still burning, and long rows of human bones.

Also included is footage of the Russian liberation of Auschwitz, including a fascinating sequence wherein Soviet soldiers are captured clad in white, camouflaged snowcoats crawling across the wintry tundra towards the Nazi death camp while clenching ski poles, with skis attached to their feet. Eva Mozes Kor, a survivor of the sadistic Mengele experiments, tears up watching footage of her younger self being freed from captivity.

American soldiers, meanwhile, captured the liberation of Buchenwald and Dachau, and since American films began using 16mm color footage in January 1945, Bernstein’s film includes haunting color shots of heaps of withered corpses at Buchenwald, as well as shrunken Jewish heads inside jars. The American troops made local German citizens from the nearby city of Weimar visit the camp and witness the genocide firsthand. A German woman is seen fainting and being carried away, while other women casually turn their heads away in disgust.

“They had been aware of the camp and had been willing to make use of the cheap labor it provided—as long as they were beyond smelling range of it,” the narrator says.

While Bernstein’s opus was first commissioned in April 1945, it wasn’t until June that his pal, “The Master of Suspense” Alfred Hitchcock, came onboard after being released from his Hollywood duties. “I had felt that I needed at least to make some contribution,” 3333Hitchcock says in an interview from 1962. “There wasn’t any question of military service—I was overage and overweight at that time—but nevertheless, I felt the urge.”

Since Bernstein was only given three months to complete the film, by the time June rolled around, he felt the need to recruit Hitch to help him piece it together. “Bernstein knew he needed some leverage,” says Singer. “He thought if they had a big name director it would help not just because it was better for the film, but it would give credibility to the film.”

So, Hitchcock served as a “director’s advisor,” supervising the way the footage was edited. He demanded that the documentary emphasized long shoots and frequent pans, so that people wouldn’t question its authenticity. He was also blown away by the stark contrast between the quotidian (the lives of Germans living near the camps) and the ghastly (the nightmare within), and requested that the film use maps to highlight their proximity, driving home the message that these German citizens knew exactly what was going on.

“Hitchcock himself is reputed to have been very nauseated by the footage,” says Singer. “He saw it in the cutting room and then didn’t want to watch it again.”

Bernstein’s time, however, soon ran out. According to a June 1945 memo from the Psychological Warfare Film department, Bernstein, lost in an artistic quagmire, was relieved of his duties. “Here he was trying to make a propaganda film, and he ended up making a great documentary,” says Singer. “And that’s not really what the government

Henry Kissinger stars as Mengele's evil assistant Igor.

Henry Kissinger stars as Mengele’s evil assistant Igor.

wanted.”

The Americans then installed acclaimed Double Indemnity filmmaker Billy Wilder as supervising director, and used some of Bernstein’s footage to create a short propaganda film entitled Death Mills. Whereas Bernstein’s film was artistic and captured the full breadth of suffering, Wilder’s version is described as a “hectoring short film” that “merely accused the Germans of committing these crimes.” Still, to the Americans’ credit, the film premiered in Germany.

“We must show it to as many Germans as possible,” Wilder says in a 1988 interview. “They will say: it’s a lie. These are extras with makeup. This is Hollywood… made by Jews. But where would we have got them from? They were just skin and bone!”

While Bernstein’s footage was eventually used as evidence against Nazi officials during the Nuremberg trials, his original, uncensored vision never saw the light of day. Singer’s film claims that the British government chose to kill Bernstein’s comprehensive documentary largely for two reasons. First, that Britain didn’t want to “further alienate the German people,” who were in a rebuilding phase and, with hints of the Cold War starting to appear, were seen as a potentially ally against the Soviets. And second, that the British were worried about the budding Zionist movement and weren’t interested in galvanizing support for a Jewish state.

“I don’t think that in government they were concerned about whether the German people were denying it ever happened,” Singer says of the film’s cancellation. “Morally and ethically it should be done, but in practical terms, it was just bad, bad timing. Churchill had just been kicked out of government and was more sympathetic, and there was a new foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, who was virulently anti-Zionist. I don’t think it was a conspiracy, or that any censorship was going on.”

As for his own documentary Night Will Fall, Singer feels it’s vital to inform audiences of what really happened at the Nazi concentration camps in order for the wounds of the past to heal, but not be forgotten.

“A lot of people are worried about whether we should be showing atrocity footage like this tumblr_m64pddHk1p1rxcu96o1_500to people, is it meant to shock, and is there a pornography element to it,” says Singer. “I believe the opposite. Put in context, it’s incredibly important.”

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6 Responses to Shadow of a Doubt

  1. NinjaJohn says:

    Of course, these filthy Shylock imposters and their brainwashed followers wouldn’t find video footage of the firebombing of Dresden to be an atrocity now would they?

  2. melgibstein says:

    The Morgenthau Plan wouldnt need Hitchcock at all to spice it up.

    How about a story on Judenstein? Nope, a little too horrific even for Alfie.

    • Truthwillout says:

      Hi Mel,I hope you and yours are safe and healthy.
      I attended Mass earlier today and the local Bishop gave the Homily.He said near the end of Mass that he would welcome any questions regarding Christianity.
      The first thing I asked the Bishop was,was he not worried about the direction the RC church has taken since the moderninity of the RC in 1962/1965,being that the modern Church teaches that the Jews were not really responsible for Christ the Redeemers death,he asked if I had read yesterdays missal,moving on I asked him about what Jesus said about the synagogue of Satan,that the Jews were liars and murderers from the beginning,he asked me whereabouts does it say that in the Scriptures,I informed him it did indeed say that,he said I had to prove it to him ???….again moving on,I asked him was it right to call the Jews ”our elder brothers in faith” considering what it says in the Talmud that Christ is boiling in excretement and the Virgin Mary was a Whore and Jesus was the bastard son of a Roman Centurion.
      He thought about this briefly and said to me that it was dangerous ground I was going down and we should discuss this at a later date.
      I left feeling somewhat perplexed and feeling kind of empty?
      God bless you and yours Mel.

      • melgibstein says:

        Yeah its dangerous ground for him, he’s a sitting duck in that church if he says anything wrong. I once asked Bill OReilly the big intelligent Catholic historian genius on his radio show if he ever heard of Saint Simon of Trent. He said he hadnt and asked me who he was about 3 times so he could call me an antisemite. I kept telling him, “youre a Harvard grad and always talking about Catholic Theology, look it up”. He probably thought I was scared to say who it was, but sometimes its best to peak the listeners interest.

        Ive been told that same reply by a priest discussing that same issue. I visited a priest at his home down my street and asked him that question in his living room. His eyes popped open and looked about 20 years younger for a minute or two. He knew I had him cornered and he said, yes they bought up all the shops in Ireland too…….but even after serving me an ice cold drink he shuffled me on out of there right quick. That was a looooong time ago.

        Theyre all scared **less of the jew, Im sorry to say and show no signs of being a Christian. Fr Coughlin may have been the last. You say something wrong in an old quiet church and you get fed to the fishes.

  3. Truthwillout says:

    Hi Mel
    further to my difference of opinion with the Bishop regarding Biblical scripture including what Jesus said rd?garding the Jews,I went down to one of my local chapels and talked to one of the local Franciscan Monks.
    I told him how the converstation went with the Bishop and he said the points regarding scripture were indeed valid and he said the Bishop was wrong!
    Why he asked me was he telling outright falsehoods about what Christ said,and then we got round to talking about the Jews and there nation wrecking way and the way they denigrate Christ every day and Pope Frankie cosies up to them???
    Talked to the fella around an hour and he asked me from where I got a lot of my info from.I told him from Maurice Pinay,Bishop Williamson,Akira,a couple of CI sites,and of course your excellent site and a few hollocaust revisionist guys,like Zundel,Faurison and I-man.
    He seemed genuinely interested and said he would search those sites out and I gave him my copy of Hellstorm to read as he had said he would love to read it!
    I have also been checking out a site called Cambriawillnotyield,it seems to be a decent site regarding Christ,perhaps you could check it out and see what you think!
    God bless you and yours.

  4. melgibstein says:

    Thanks again for the comments Truth, although I can never trust a jew under any circumstances even if they appear to be on my side. It is already determined that they are not and never will be and though we like to hear someone say the right thing, understand that it’s like the Marx Brothers coming up the field with a football handing it off to another to get past you. Once they do its too late. They shouldnt even be on the field.
    Catholics believe Jesus came for everyone and he did not. James wrote his epistle to the 12 tribes scattered abroad, Paul mentions the 12 tribes several times and somehow the Popes, Bishops, Cardinals believe we are “spiritual Israel”? Its just too much. It’s in our faces BS. The Bible isnt for everyone and it was never intended to be and it sure as hell isnt for the Jews (which most of these Catholic priests actually believe it once was).
    Its unforgivable and cowardice. They wont even determine a Jew from a white person, they dont care and they dont know that they are being HAD (or they are on the take). Its lack of knowledge or refusal of knowledgeand they want to be your priests? They dont even believe in free speech.

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