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 back.
It 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”.