Alfred Hitchcock's Holocaust documentary to be released in full


A documentary about the Holocaust partially helmed by famed director Alfred Hitchcock is due to be released in full for the first time.

The Independent reported Wednesday that the documentary will be shown in tandem with a new documentary, “Night Will Fall,” at festivals and in theaters, as well as on British television to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Hitchcock was approached in 1945 by his friend and producer Sidney Bernstein about the possibility of helping with a documentary based on footage shot in the Nazi concentration camps by British and Soviet army units. Upon first viewing the footage, the director of “Psycho” and “The 39 Steps” was reportedly so traumatized that he avoided the film studio for a week.

The project took longer than anticipated and by the time it was ready, in late 1945 the Allied military government in Berlin decided the film would do more harm than good to the effort to pacify the defeated Germans. Five of the original six reels of footage shot were placed in a vault in the Imperial War Museum in London, where they were discovered in the 1980s by an American researcher. The unfinished film, in which Hitchcock was credited as a “treatment adviser,” was shown at the Berlin Film Festival in 1984 and on PBS in 1985 under the title “Memory of the Camps”.


As someone with family background that comes from European Jewish ghettoes, I often tend to feel it’s my duty to watch such things - sort of as an act of remembrance for the inevitable (but unknown) lost cousins, if you will.

If this film is shown on television I’ll probably watch it, albeit with a heavy heart.

More broadly, I would suggest that less people will be as shocked by it now than would have been at the time it was made: we are generally very well educated on the subject matter these days and, as upsetting as it is, it isn’t as specifically shocking as we already know what to expect. It is certainly important though that societies never forget, lest we be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.


sigh And then there’s this:

The Incredibly Depressing Answers College Students Gave When Asked What the Holocaust Was and Where It Began


Modern college students don’t know history, literature, philosophy and don’t know geography.


If it traumatized Alfred Hitchcock…is it a good idea to watch it? I have seen several documentaries about the Holocaust and perhaps there is a limit as to what you should see. How would the victims choose to be remembered? Like stacks of cordwood or as real human beings that loved, lived, and had hopes and dreams and their very humanity stolen from them before being slaughtered? I think learning more about the people and what led up to the holocaust is more important as a ‘take home’ message. I can’t help but think too many stories of what the Germans did to their victims just shows the power of Germany and forgets the real families that were lost. There is a fine line there between watching enough to be horrified and watching enough to be traumatized. All should see some footage, but we need to remember how it happened to keep it from happening again. We don’t need lessons in cruelty and mass murder. We need lessons in compassion and empathy for others. We need to recognize the baby steps that led to the immense Godless nation that Germany became under Hitler. This new release…does it really feel like a good idea? Or is it exploitation?


Six reels = how many minutes, by 1945 film standards? I don’t know, but there’s a 53-minutes Hitchcock Holocaust documentary on Youtube. I’m not going to post the link, but it’s easily found.


That’s a cut down version compiled from some of the footage. My wife’s grandfather whose entire family was mostly wiped out by the Nazis commented that there is no way to make any fictional portrayal live and breathe with the astonishing brutality or disregard for human life that was present. There is a bit in the graphic novel ‘Maus’ where the author whose father and mother were both Holocaust survivors presents a strip he wrote earlier in his career within the main text of the narrative showing himself earlier in his life coming home to find his mother dead from suicide in the bath. The text itself shows how after the camps she suffered from massive depression and mental instablitily, hardly suprisingly. .


You can watch it at the following link. I just finished watching it and it is still gut wrenching.


The film started by saying the Germans were relieved to have someone think for them. I think that message is important.


You are so right – in two respects…

First, a rabbi who had survived the Holocaust told me as we stood in Auschwitz, “You can now say that you’ve *visited *Auschwitz. You may never say that you’ve been *in *Auschwitz.” We can never truly know the level of horror experienced by the victims.

Second, *Maus *(I and II) are just a stellar set of graphic novels.


Funny enough, the other moment that most brought across the horror of the whole Holocaust to me was in a Marvel comic where we see the villain Magneto as a young boy witness his family been killed in front of him and he and they are all shovelled together into a mass grave as the Nazis assume everyone is dead. They borrowed a variation of that for the X-Men movies. As a kid of 14 or so reading the issue and seeing the image below I could sympathize to a degree but it was not until 20 odd years later when I met my wife and her grandparents that I realised that leaving aside the whole superpowers bit much of it was not that unrealistic and both my wife’s grandparents had the misfortune to witness family members killed and narrowly escape themselves. Although in her grandfather’s case as they were Jewish (at least nominally) far more of that family was wiped out as they had the misfortune to be residing in a part of the Ukraine where much of the Jewish populace was totally destroyed. My wife’s grandfather end up first fleeing to a partisan unit and then joining the Red Army. He was around 12 years old when he escaped. He was a fairly iron willed old school Soviet soldier but he still woke up in his old age screaming at times on bad days.


This version picked up a few extra minutes (including final credits) but otherwise it appears to be the same as the version on Youtube.

Edit: “Gutwrenching” doesn’t begin to describe it. My father (in Patton’s 3rd Army) was involved in the liberation of a camp that still had live Jews, and he said it was at that point that he saw GIs really begin to hate Germans. He never said much about it, but with all that I’ve read on the subject, I put 2+2 together and came to the conclusion that there may have been some summary executions of camp guards.


Hardly surprising, there is an infamous scene in one of the most brutal movies ever made about the period called ‘Come and See’ which was made by Mosfilm. In it Soviet partisan forces capture a German prisoner - the women who are living in the forests take the prisoner away from the men guarding him forcibly and we are left to infer his fate due to the screams heard in the background and the fact we see torture beginning. My wife’s grandfather once commented that this movie was the nearest he had seen to reflecting reality - particularly one of the sequences which shows a young woman gang rape by German troops tortured and then killed. It is a movie I would recommend to anyone but only on the caveat that they have a very strong stomach as it will leave you shell shocked. It never despite the fact it shows brutality uses it merely to titilate and the director has a rather larger message especially in the end sequence which is ultimately a ray of hope against all the blackness, albeit a small ray.


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