Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan interview: ‘Camp Confidential’ directors
“I think every part of our history is worth being reexamined,” argues Daniel Sivan, co-director of the documentary short “Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis,” which is currently streaming on Netflix. The film, which examines a secret military operation bringing Nazi soldiers to America during World War II, was recently shortlisted for the 94th Academy Awards. Watch our exclusive video interview with Sivan and co-director Mor Loushy above.
The movie chronicles a secret military operation in which German prisoners of war were housed and interrogated under the watch of American soldiers, many of whom were Jewish refugees. One of those prisoners was Wernher von Braun, a decorated Nazi scientist who was later assimilated into American culture and ultimately became and integral part of America’s space program. The film includes interviews with some of the surviving American soldiers, who discuss the emotional and psychological toll of having to keep their actions secret for more than five decades.
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Both Sivan and Loushy see the film as an examination of the lengths countries will go to during times of war. “Doing historical docs, you always discover that countries are not necessarily moral…but we did have this perception that there are some red lines,” Sivan explains. “There should be some kind of good and evil going on, and you discover that there’s just nothing like that.”
Loushy argues that part of the tragedy of the story is found in the impact of the mission on the Jewish-American soldiers. Many of those soldiers were unaware that their Nazi prisoners would be rewarded with new lives and opportunities is the United States. “It was a process for them and a real burden,” she explains. “When they understood what was going on, they were crushed. But they were also refugees that just escaped Europe and escaped Germany. They weren’t in a position to say, ‘No, we can’t do it.'”
The film uses animation to recreate the atmosphere of the secret base, known only as PO Box 1142. Loushy admits that she was initially reluctant to include animation in the film. “I don’t even like cartoons,” she laughs. However, with no archival footage of the base or any of its prisoners, the filmmakers ultimately saw animation as a way to bring the history to life. “We started this process and I think that it was the best decision for the film because it gave us the opportunity to tell this ironic and crazy story.”