A propaganda film made by the British government in 1945 after Allied Forces liberated the survivors of the German concentration camps has just been made public. Worked on by the great director Alfred Hitchcock and simply titled German Concentration Camps Factual Survey, the 70-year-old film has been restored by London’s Imperial War Museum. It may be the most powerful film on the Holocaust ever made.
Though the film records post-liberation moments, it’s not just seeing the survivors that staggers the viewer — though the emaciated survivors are gut-wrenching to behold. The camera bears witness as Nazi soldiers are forced to dispose of the dead bodies of their victims. Hitchcock was an advisor on the film. His goal was to ensure its veracity, which he was able to do with the footage, though claims made in the voiceover are sometimes problematic — it was a propaganda film, after all. HBO showed a film about the making of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey last year called Night Will Fall. Beyond the evil and devastation, Factual Survey also emphasizes the story of human resilience. It had a small showing in New York recently at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, but there are no immediate plans for wide release.