Unseen Alfred Hitchcock Holocaust documentary ‘Memory of the Camps’ to be released

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  • Beau S.
    Feb 10th, 2013


    The ‘disturbing’ film, made in 1945 and withheld, was restored by the Imperial War Museum

    An Alfred Hitchcock documentary about the Holocaust which was
    suppressed for political reasons is to be screened for the first time in
    the form its director intended after being restored by the Imperial War
    Museum, reports the Independent.

    Hitchcock was asked to assemble footage shot by a British army film
    unit cameraman of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp
    in 1945. But the resulting documentary, which had been commissioned in
    an attempt to inform and educate the German populace about the
    atrocities carried out by the Nazis in their name, was ultimately held

    was not shown at all until 1984, in an incomplete version at the Berlin
    film festival, and was missing a sixth reel and in poor quality when it
    was screened on the PBS network in the US a year later. Now the film,
    retrospectively titled Memory of the Camps, is to finally see the light
    of day in a format Hitchcock would have approved of.

    “It was suppressed because of the changing political situation,
    particularly for the British,” Dr Toby Haggith, senior curator at the
    Department of Research for the Imperial War Museum told the Independent.
    “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.”

    Haggith said test screenings had left colleagues, experts and film
    historians extremely disturbed. The film’s narration, which has been
    re-recorded with a new actor, features descriptions of “sightseers” at a
    “chamber of horrors”.

    “The digital restoration has made this material seem very fresh,”
    said Haggith. “One of the common remarks was that it [the film] was both
    terrible and brilliant at the same time.”

    The film is due to be shown on British television in 2015 to mark the
    70th anniversary of the liberation of Europe. It will be accompanied by
    a new documentary from Andre Singer, a producer on the acclaimed 2013
    film The Act of Killing, which has topped a number of critical best of the year lists including the Guardian’s. Both films will be shown at film festivals and cinemas later this year.

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