The horror of genocide needs to be shown: UK film director

Fri Sep 19, 2014 10:35am EDT
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By Laura Onita

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The surviving prisoners didn’t know what to expect when British troops entered the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen in northwest Germany on April 15, 1945.

Nor did the soldiers - until the sight of the naked corpses piled high unfolded before their eyes.

Scenes of the living and the dead in the notorious camp, captured on tape by ordinary soldiers and newsreel cameramen at its liberation, are as relevant now as they were nearly 70 years ago, according to the director of a new documentary.

“The cameramen weren't really there thinking about creating documentary film-making, they were there in a state of trauma and shock just filming what they saw,” director Andre Singer told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.

Sidney Bernstein, a British producer and later founder of Granada Television, was commissioned at the time to assemble the footage into a film that would be a record of the atrocities.

It was to serve both as evidence to show the Germans the extent of the industrialized slaughter, and as timeless testimony to ensure that such crimes against humanity could never be repeated.

More than six million people died during the Holocaust, the genocidal killing of Jews, gypsies and others during the Nazis' rule over Germany and much of Europe.

Ultimately, the footage from Bergen-Belsen was consigned to the archives and the film project was shelved because of changes in the international situation after communist rule was imposed on eastern Europe.   Continued...