This week in the Research Forum our students watched the documentary “Night Will Fall.” The film retells the story of liberation using film from British archives shot in 1945. The British government used this raw footage to create a film titled, “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey.” The original footage reveals a small portion of the horrors the liberators found, yet the images are overwhelming. Director, Andre Singer, explores the significance of the original British documentary which remained untouched in archives for 70 years.
Much of the footage from different liberations in 1945 concentrate on the shocking, inhumane conditions within the camps, showing graphic content. Singer included survivors and liberators in the film which gave the images context. They identified themselves in different segments of film, many of the survivors remembered being filmed and relayed their impressions of this and so much more.
Singer’s documentary also discusses the historical impact of the original film from 1945. After the 1945 documentary, “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey,” was completed they decided not to show it anywhere, and put it in archives, where Andre Singer found it. The film would have been shown as a sort of “atrocity propaganda” but the British government felt that it would not be conducive to the de-nazifacation process. The questions “Night Will Fall” addresses are: Is it appropriate to show the truth? Would this film have furthered tensions between Germans and the Allies? Who is responsible for making these decisions: governments or individuals?
Regardless, the documentary is a reminder of the dark potential of humanity. The title of the documentary was derived from narration from the original 1945 film, “Unless the world learns the lesson these pictures teach, night will fall.”
Before you open these links, know that there are very graphic images shown:
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