A documentary by Alfred Hitchock showing the horrors of the Holocaust finally sees the light of day on Tuesday night - 70 years after it was made and shelved for political reasons. The documentary is the focus of a new film by director Andre Singer, called "Night Will Fall", which was to be aired around the world by HBO on Tuesday night to mark International Holocaust Memorial Day.
Hitchcock's documentary, entitled "German Concentration Camps Factual Survey", was made using footage taken by British and Soviet soldiers, including during the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. It had been commissioned with the intention of showing it to the German people to inform them what the Nazis had done during the Holocaust.
Dr. Toby Haggith, senior curator at the Imperial War Museum, told the Independent newspaper that, “Once they discovered the camps, the Americans and British were keen to release a film very quickly that would show the camps and get the German people to accept their responsibility for the atrocities that were there."
But, added Haggith, "It was suppressed because of the changing political situation, particularly for the British." The emphasis had shifted to reconstruction, not retribution, he said.
The Imperial War Museum in London, where five of the six reels of the film had been stored, has now carefully restored the documentary using digital technology. A partially complete version of the film was screened at the 1984 Berlin Film Festival entitled “Memory of the Camps”.
According to the Independent, Hitchcock was traumatized when he first saw the footage, that he stayed away from Pinewood Studios in London for a week.
"Night Will Fall" (a line from the Hitchcock documentary: “Unless the world learns the lessons these pictures teach, night will fall”) is narrated by Helena Bonham Carter and combines the original 1945 footage with contemporary interviews with the people involved in making that documentary.
The restored original documentary was also set to be shown on British TV. "Night Will Fall" aired on Britain's Channel 4 last Saturday night.