Night Will Fall (2014) Movie Script

With World War II
in Europe drawing to a close,
the 3 Allied armies,
British, Soviet and American,
began their move towards Berlin.
Among their ranks
were soldiers newly trained
as cameramen.
In April 1945,
an advancing British unit
halted by the River Aller,
Northern Germany.
As events unfolded,
they were recorded
by the army camera crews.
I think it was
about the 12th of April.
Apparently two German
officers approached
our front line
with a white flag,
asking to speak to our General,
and they were ushered through,
blindfolded actually,
and taken to our corps
where I happened to be,
and they had a message
from their General.
The message was that we
were approaching or probably
going to approach a large
civilian prison camp
where typhus had broken out,
and their General wanted to
send a message to say
that he didn't think
it was a good idea if we
fought through that camp
because those inmates
with typhus would get loose
and would get
amongst the civilian population
and the German army
and the British army.
They pulled us out up a track,
and we had to hoist
a white flag of truce.
This is... out of nowhere,
this has happened.
We were sent
under the flag of truce
miles behind enemy lines.
The Germans, in fairness
to them, on the roads,
they all got off the road,
and they were all armed
on the side of the roads
as we were driving through.
The more I think about it now,
I'm amazed that none
of us opened fire,
but in fairness to the Germans,
not one of them fired,
and not one of us fired either.
The British
camera crews continued to film.
Their footage was to become part
of an extraordinary
documentary produced
for the allies
by Sidney Bernstein
with a team that included
the director Alfred Hitchcock.
This film, called "German
Concentration Camps Factual Survey,"
has been described
as a forgotten masterpiece
of British documentary cinema,
yet it was abandoned
unfinished until now,
70 years later.
In the spring of 1945,
the allies advancing
into the heart on Germany
came to Bergen-Belsen.
Neat and tidy orchards,
well-stocked farms lined
the wayside,
and the British soldier
did not fail to admire
the place and its inhabitants
at least, until he began
to feel a smell.
Then dawn came up,
and then we could see
where the stench
was coming from.
I think one of the first
things we did was to line up
all the SS men and women
and took them...
made them prisoners
of war basically.
The SS were still there.
Josef Kramer was still there,
the camp commandant.
I looked at the tower,
and the and the tower was empty,
and there was always
a German there
with a shotgun
or... or with whatever he had.
And I started screaming,
"The Germans are gone.
I don't see any Germans!"
And some girls ran with me,
and we made it to the gate,
and I am behind
a barbed wire fence
to witness the first
British troop entering the camp.
We had
a loudspeaker van with us.
We'd entered the camp
to see what we could see,
and of course,
what we could see was
a complete utter shock,
and... and, um,
I'll never forget it.
Through a loudspeaker
in different languages,
they said, "Be calm,
be calm, be calm.
"Stay where you are.
Be calm.
"Help is on the way.
"We're the British soldiers.
Help is on the way."
And people went just crazy.
It was an unbelievable moment.
Suddenly you hear
English spoken,
and, you know,
we should remain calm,
don't leave the camp,
help is on the way,
you know, that sort of thing.
Ja. It's... it's very
difficult to describe.
It was... you know, you
spent years preparing
yourself to die, and suddenly,
you're still here, you know.
I was 19 when
the liberation came,
and, I mean, it was
very difficult
to actually take on board.
We thought we were
dreaming really,
and every British soldier
looked like a god to us.
Ja. Well, it was...
it was not what we expected,
to still be alive,
but there we were.
We didn't know what
we were going to go into.
We were sent...
um, and then we drove...
excuse me.
Sorry about this.
Too painful.
Dead prisoners hurled out
and stacked in twisted heaps.
Dead women like
marble statues in the mire.
This was what these inmates
had to live among
and die among.
The dead which lay there
were not numbered
in hundreds but in thousands.
Not one or two thousands
but 30,000.
We drove in and saw
a sight that shook us
as nothing, even the sights
of war had ever, ever,
ever shaken us before.
It was pain to look at it,
pain that this could
happen to people.
There were hundreds
and hundreds of dead bodies
sort of piled up.
There were... there was
a stench of death everywhere.
There was pits containing
bodies of people as large
as lawn tennis courts,
containing babies, girls,
youths, men, women, old, young,
and how deep we didn't know.
These half-dead people
walking about,
glazed eyes and...
There was hopelessness.
The stare, the appalling smell,
the whole atmosphere
of depression
Like the end had come.
The... the bodies, you...
you lost contact,
and reality went...
they were dummies,
they were dolls, they were...
I don't know whether you...
we ourselves withdrew
into another space,
time, existence,
but you could never
associate what you were seeing
with your own life,
if you know what I mean.
This was something
completely separate.
It was another world. Uh...
I don't think if we...
if you had become
too involved, I think you
would probably have gone mad.
We were there for
about two weeks filming
all these sights, which no film
which I've seen
since that really conveys
the feeling of despair
and horror that can be done
to people who are Europeans
of another faith
for no other reason,
and I thought as time
went by it might leave me.
I wanted to forget,
um, but it never does leave you.
I find it hard
to describe adequately
the horrible things
that I've seen and heard...
but here unadorned
are the facts.
I passed through the barrier
and found myself
in the world of a nightmare.
Dead bodies, some
of them in decay,
lay strewn about the road
and along the rutted tracks.
On each side of the road
were brown wooden huts.
There were faces at the windows,
the bony emaciated faces
of starving women
too weak to come outside,
propping themselves
against the glass to see
the daylight before they die,
and they were dying
every hour and every minute.
It was so horrific that
the BBC initially waited
before they broadcast it
because they had doubts
whether my father had
actually accurately
described what he'd seen,
and they checked
and then put it out.
It's the moment
when he describes
"people no longer behave
like human beings"
that you realize what
he's actually saying,
what the implied message
of this is
"This isn't just Germany,
this isn't just
"the people in those camps.
"This could be any
of you anywhere
if civilization breaks
down in this way."
The day after
the report, Churchill declared,
"No words can express
the horror which is felt
"by His Majesty's government
and their principal allies
"at the proof of these
frightful crimes
now daily coming into view."
The success of cinema
in the 1930s
had underlined the power
of the moving image.
Keen to exploit its
potential role in war,
Britain and America set up
a joint film department.
Its brief was to produce
short propaganda films,
initially to support
the war effort
and later to assist
the task of dealing
with a defeated Germany
once the war was won.
In Britain, this unit was headed
by leading film producer,
Sidney Bernstein.
The day following
Churchill's statement,
Bernstein set out
for Bergen-Belsen.
By the time he arrived,
the army film cameramen
had been at work for a week.
The film shot
at Bergen-Belsen
by the British cameramen
reveal every level of humanity
to a much greater extent
than any other
of the film evidence.
It feels as if
the whole human story is there.
They used the camera
in a very specific way.
It was there was a...
it began to directed
to collect evidence,
to gather evidence.
So one of the difficulties
about filming an atrocity
or a... is that in order to
reveal that a person has
been murdered or brutalized,
what you have to do is
you have to reveal that
by getting close to the person
because you have to show
the wounds, have to give
some indication
of how they've been killed.
Now that went against
the tradition previously
of combat cameramen,
where they'd shied away
from representing or
recording scenes of people
who'd been killed or brutalized.
For Bernstein,
the visit to Bergen-Belsen
was galvanizing.
On his return to London,
he began planning
a full-length documentary.
Its purpose was clear
from guidelines he issued
to the Allied cameramen.
My instructions were
to film everything
which would prove
one day that this
had actually happened.
It'd be a lesson to all mankind,
as well as to the Germans
for whom the film that we were
putting together was
designed, to show
to the German people
because most of them
on our way down
and on the troops' way down
had denied they knew
anything about the camps.
This would be the evidence
which we could show them.
First of all, I
wanted them to record that
all the local bigwigs
and people,
the municipal burgomaster
and like,
who lived within
a reasonable range
saw what was being done,
burying these tragic figures.
Some of the Germans we
brought in to be filmed
when the bodies were being
buried in the pit
just couldn't look anymore.
I wanted to prove
that they had seen it
so there was evidence
because I guessed rightly that
most people would deny
that it happened.
Bernstein also used footage
of German SS officers
helping with the worst
of the tasks in the camp.
There was
an urgent need to get rid
of as many bodies as possible
as quickly as possible,
so all the SS were set to work.
500 Hungarian troops
captured with the SS
were started
on a grave digging operation.
Here. Here.
No. Here. Here.
The SS
themselves were made to do
the unpleasant job they had
forced the inmates to do.
This, after all, was
nothing to these men.
They, the Master Race, had
been taught to be hard.
They could kill in cold blood,
and it seemed
to the British soldier
fit and proper that
the killers should bury
the nameless,
hopeless creatures
they had starved to death.
The army film units
had no sound equipment.
It wasn't until news teams
arrived that Bernstein
was able to access
some sound recordings.
Today's the 24th of April 1945.
My name is Gunner Illingworth,
and I live in Cheshire.
I'm at present in Belsen camp
doing guard duty
over the SS men.
The things in this camp
are beyond describing.
When you actually see
them for yourself,
you know what you're
fighting for here.
Pictures in the paper
cannot describe it at all.
The things they have
committed, well,
nobody'd think they
were human at all.
We actually know now
what has been going on
in these camps,
and I know personally
what I'm fighting for.
Once Bernstein's documentary
proposal had been approved
by both British
and American governments,
he hired perhaps the best known
film editor in London...
Stewart McAllister.
Together, they began to
assemble the army film footage
now arriving in the edit rooms.
The deadline for completion
of the film was set
at just 3 months.
The news from Bergen-Belsen
was not entirely a surprise
to the British government.
Soviet intelligence
had reported uncovering
concentration camps in Poland
as early as July 1944,
but as the Soviets had a record
of falsifying atrocity reports,
the Allies ignored
the information.
Now in the light
of Bergen-Belsen,
the British reconsidered,
and Bernstein broadened
the scope of his film
to include footage
from the Soviet camps.
The Soviets discovered
few living inmates at Majdanek.
In the face
of the advancing troops,
the Germans had begun emptying
the camps in Poland,
sending prisoners
westwards to camps,
including Bergen-Belsen.
The evidence filmed
in Poland became part
of Bernstein's documentary.
Prisoners paid
their own fares to Majdanek.
They thought they were
going to new homes,
and so they brought
their most precious
portable possessions.
They say dead men's boots
bring bad luck.
What of dead children's toys?
Their mothers carried
scissors perhaps.
The scissors are here.
The mothers, no,
but here in this room
is part of them.
Nothing material
could be wasted.
These packages
contain human hair,
carefully sorted and weighed.
Nothing was wasted.
Even the teeth were taken
out of their mouths,
byproducts of the system.
nail brushes...
shoe brushes...
shaving brushes.
If one man in 10
wears spectacles,
how many does
this heap represent?
All these things belonged
to men and women
and children like ourselves,
quite ordinary people
from all parts of the world.
The Soviet forces carried
on through the Polish winter
to liberate another,
larger camp...
I stood there maybe 30 minutes.
It was snowing heavily,
I couldn't see,
and at a distance,
I saw lots of people,
and they were all
wrapping themselves
in white camouflage raincoats.
They were smiling
from ear to ear,
and they didn't look like
the Nazis, which was
the most important part.
We ran out to them.
They gave us
chocolate, cookies, and hugs,
and this was my first
taste of freedom.
We didn't have
the strength even, you know,
to... to... to dance or what,
so we just feebly,
very feebly started singing,
and we were so happy,
we were so happy that
these angels came
from the heavens to liberate us.
Unlike Bergen-Belsen,
which was a prison camp,
Auschwitz was a slave labor camp
and a mass extermination center.
Within its gas chambers,
more than a million men,
women, and children died.
Their fate was usually
determined within minutes
of their arrival.
The cattle car doors slid open,
thousands of people spilled out
from the cattle car.
My father and two
older sisters disappeared
in the crowd.
Never ever did I see them again.
As we were holding
onto mother, a Nazi
was running, yelling
in German, "Twins, twins!"
A woman came up,
and she took the little suitcase
from my mother and she says,
"Listen, are these two...
are these two twins?"
My mother said, "Yes."
So she says, "Why don't
you say they're twins?
"It's a good thing
to have twins here
in this place."
The next time the Nazi came,
my mother said,
"Here are my twins."
They took us to Mengele.
Mengele looked at us.
The Nazi said, "Here,
I found twins for you."
Eva and Vera were
among the few survivors
of Josef Mengele's infamously
cruel medical experiments.
1,500 of his other victims
died at his hands.
The Soviet army camera unit
did not arrive
until a few days after
the first troops.
There came a... there
came a crew, a film crew
to film... to film the...
the inmates,
especially the twins.
A soldier, a Russian soldier,
he was beckoning to me.
He says, "Come, come, come.
Film, film, film."
So they filmed us marching
between those two rows
of barbed wire,
and because Miriam and I
had the striped prison uniforms,
we ended up in the front.
These children are twins.
When identical twins were
born to non-German parents,
they were confiscated
and handed over
to an experimental station.
German doctors injected
them with diseases
and attempted cures.
Success in the cure was
not important as these
children were
written off, unknown.
They had no names, only numbers
tattooed on their arms.
Across Germany,
many more concentration camps
were coming to light.
The Allies recorded
the evidence on film,
more material
for Bernstein's documentary.
300 kilometers southeast
of Bergen-Belsen at Buchenwald,
the Americans entered a camp
described as
a prison and labor camp.
I found out the Buchenwald camp
was being liberated,
so the captain that
I was working with,
we hopped in... got a Jeep,
and we drove over
to Buchenwald death camp,
and I started filming there.
It was shocking, yeah.
It was because the bodies
of the prisoners were
stacked up,
they were dead, you know,
and they were piled up.
55,000 of them
died because of this place.
Here, Schoker,
the camp commandant said,
"I want at least
600 Jewish deaths reported
in the camp office
every day."
Thugs were appointed
as overseers or block leaders.
People were tattooed
across the belly
with slave numbers
and forced to work
on starvation diet.
People were coldly
and systematically tortured.
We would receive a report that
strange groups of people
had been seen on a road.
They seemed to be wearing
some kind of a pajama,
and they all looked
like they were dying.
The ones who were seen
on the road were those
who were still alive.
Those who couldn't
walk were lying dead
on the ground.
Everybody has seen the barracks.
I don't want to go
into the details.
It's a little difficult
for me to do that,
but you couldn't tell if
they were dead or alive.
You'd step over a body,
and it would suddenly wave
at you or raise a hand.
Total chaos.
Dysentery, typhoid.
All kinds of diseases
in the camp.
Um... putrid.
It really... the smell
of the camps...
the crematoria were still going,
the dead bodies piled up
like cordwood
in front of the crematorium.
It's hard to imagine
for a normal human mind.
I had peered into hell in this.
It's not something you
quickly forget, uh,
and it's a little hard
for me to describe.
Some of the American
crews were beginning to use
color film,
although as it was sent
for processing to America,
it wasn't included
in Bernstein's film.
When color came out,
that was the start of 1945,
in January.
We were the first unit to
start using color film.
Up to that point,
it was black and white,
and it was 35-millimeter,
but when color came out,
it was 16-millimeter movie, see?
That was sent to the processors,
and then they would enlarge it
for showing in theaters.
Newsreel theaters were
showing this stuff
in the States.
We covered the people
that were living in a town
called Weimar,
and they were paraded
through this camp to show
the death scenes
and the bodies stacked up
and the ovens where
the, you know, the prisoners
were put in.
So I covered a lot
of that with Captain Carter,
and we... we shot
a lot of coverage.
German citizens
were brought in from Weimar.
They had to see, too,
to see what they had been
fighting for
and we had been
fighting against.
They came cheerfully
like sightseers
to a chamber of horrors,
for here indeed were
some real horrors.
These shrunken heads belonged
to two Polish prisoners
who'd escaped
and been recaptured.
Some of the visitors
did not care for the sight
and were assisted
by ex-prisoners.
They had been aware of the camp
and had been willing to make use
of the cheap labor it provided
as long as they were
beyond smelling range of it.
The Supreme Commander
in Europe General Eisenhower
came to the camps
to see for himself,
telling accompanying reporters,
"We are told that the American
soldier does not know
"what he is fighting for.
Now at least he will know
what he is fighting against."
Eisenhower arranged
for journalists,
senators, congressmen,
and a British parliamentary
to visit the camp and publicize
their findings at home.
Towards the end of April,
the Americans,
moving close
to the city of Munich,
entered and filmed another camp.
The footage was sent
to London, where it was viewed
in the processing laboratory.
One morning, just sitting
there waiting for rushes,
we got a dope sheet which had
the name of the cameramen,
how much film had been shot,
and we looked,
and there was
an enormous amount of film,
much more than usual,
and at the top
of the dope sheet was a name
which was totally unfamiliar
to all of us.
It was spelt D-A-C-H-A-U,
and we didn't know
what the hell that was,
whether it was
initials or anything,
but we soon found out
because once they started
screening this material,
it was like looking into
the most appalling
hell possible,
and especially in negative...
where the blacks were white
and the whites were black.
There was a grotesqueness
to it anyway,
but to see it in negative
was shattering,
and there was 4 hours
of this without break.
None of us wanted a break,
and to see these piles
of bodies,
these rooms stacked with bodies,
and there was what looked like
a... a giant barbecue made
out of railway sleepers,
which an attempt had been
made to burn the bodies
obviously before
the Americans arrived
to try and lessen the...
lessen the atrocities,
but none of us,
none of us could talk,
and I think each one of us
was hoping that we were
not going to get... be the ones
who were going to cut it.
When it was over,
we sat absolutely still,
and nobody smoked,
nobody could talk.
We had no idea what
had been going on
in these camps.
Richard Crossman,
German expert and writer,
was a member of the
Psychological Warfare Division
in London and was sent to report
on the situation in Dachau.
His experience there was
later to inform
his final script
for Bernstein's film.
In the last
3 months, official records show
that 10,615 people
were disposed of here.
Their clothes were turned over
to the Deutsche Textil
und Bekleidungswerke GmbH,
a private corporation
whose stockholders were
SS officials, which reclaimed
and repaired the garments
with the use of unpaid
prison labor
and then resold them
to the camp clothing depot
for the use of new prisoners.
The prisoners arrived
often in railway trucks,
but there'd been no hurry
to unload this one.
They went away leaving
the prisoners to die
of hunger and cold and typhus.
We found them like this,
frozen stiff in the snow
alongside a public road.
By some miracle,
17 men were still alive.
All the rest,
about 3,000, were dead.
Germans knew about Dachau
but did not care.
By the beginning of May,
the scope of Bernstein's
documentary had expanded.
He wanted a director,
and his thoughts turned
to his friend Alfred Hitchcock,
already a major Hollywood name.
Alfred Hitchcock was
an eminent director,
and I thought he,
a brilliant man,
would have some ideas how we
could tie it all together,
and he had.
Hitchcock was fully
committed in America
and not immediately available,
but he agreed
to join the film later as
its supervising director.
It was to be his only known
documentary work.
I left America to go to England
to do some war work.
I had felt that
I needed at least
to make some contribution.
There wasn't any question
of military service.
I was overage
and overweight at that time,
but nevertheless,
I felt the urge,
and my friend Bernstein, who was
the head of the film section
of the British Ministry
of Information,
and he arranged
for me to go over.
Before Hitchcock could
join the Bernstein team,
the Allies declared
victory in Europe.
It was the end of the war,
but the challenges
of dealing with the peace
were just beginning.
In the concentration camps,
a huge relief effort was
among the many thousands
of stranded inmates.
In Bergen-Belsen,
army cameramen were still
filming and sending their
material back to London.
I was... had a big
temperature, a fever,
because I get
"tee-phus"... typhus,
and I was thinking,
"I'm dying."
I was thinking, "I've died"
because there was
a music coming,
and I think it was
the pipes of the Scottish...
I think in front
of the Brits there went
a Scottish brigade with pipes,
and there was a music
I'd never heard.
I haven't seen them
because I cannot go up
to the window, but I heard them,
and I was thinking that I
heard so many about angels
and how they're singing
and making music,
and I was thinking,
"I'm in heaven."
It was amazing how quickly
those poor people
who were reduced
to almost animal status,
how they came back to be...
be human again,
and some of the girls,
women, who really were
in a terrible state
quite soon started to dress
themselves up a bit
and clean themselves up a bit,
get their hair done
a little bit,
and get back to being
normal humans again.
It happened amazingly quickly
within 2 or 3 weeks, I suppose,
these people began
to become human again,
and they'd been... they had been
completely dehumanized.
There's no question about that.
As they logged
their shots, the army cameramen
made notes on what were
known as dope sheets.
One of them commented,
"It is interesting to note
"that as soon as the first
primitive necessities
"of food and rest
and warmth had been met,
"the patients,
particularly the women,
"were immediately
crying out for clothes.
"Clothes became
a medical necessity,
"a powerful tonic
against the dangerous apathy
of the very weak."
Uniquely, Bernstein's
film documented
the healing process.
Clothes was
another urgent problem,
so an outfitting department
was set up,
and clothes gathered from shops
in the surrounding
towns were soon being
tried on an gossiped over,
as women love to do.
In late June 1945,
Hitchcock, released
from Hollywood,
at last arrived in London
to start work with Bernstein.
The Americans had been
slow in sending their footage,
but despite this,
the film was taking shape.
Hitchcock's visit was
short but intense.
After seeing the footage,
he returned to
the London hotel Claridge's.
There he made a series
of proposals
for the completion of the film.
And I can remember him
strolling up and down
in this suite at Claridge's
and saying,
"How can we make
that convincing?"
We tried to make shots as
long as possible,
use panning shots so that
there was no possibility
of... of trickery,
and going
from respected dignitaries
or... or high churchmen straight
to the bodies and corpses
so it couldn't be suggested
that... that we were
faking the film.
Hitchcock was struck
by the contrast
between the normal lives
of Germans living near the camps
and the nightmare within.
He suggested using maps
to highlight
how close they were.
Alfred Hitchcock's...
one of his contributions
to the film is that
he had a particular
conceptualization of those maps.
He also thought they
were very important
because he said not only
should they show the sites
of atrocity
or the concentration camps
were close
to population centers,
they should do so
on a map that was very simple,
and it should be like
a school's atlas.
We wanted to know whether
the Germans surrounding
the concentration camp
knew about it.
So Hitch did
this drawing, circles,
one mile from the camp,
two miles from the camp,
10 miles from the camp,
20 miles from the camp.
His idea was show
the area surrounding each camp
and show how people had
led a normal life outside.
Ebensee is a holiday resort
in the mountains.
The air is clean and pure.
It cures sickness,
and there is a sweetness
about the place,
a gentle peace.
In this place, the Luftwaffe
or SS Panzer officer
on leave relaxes,
eats well, breathes deeply,
finds romance.
Everything is charming
and picturesque...
but the concentration camp
had become
an integral part
of the German economic system.
So it was here, too.
Able to see the mountains,
but what use are mountains
without food?
Even as Hitchcock
and Bernstein worked,
events in postwar Europe
were developing
in unexpected directions.
In many of the camps,
thousands of survivors
remained, marooned.
Now we were faced with...
with... in... in Belsen anyway
over 20,000 who refused to go,
and the same situation occurred
to other concentration camps
and slave labor
all over the British
part of Germany
and the American part
of Germany, too.
So all of a sudden, we had
another big problem
on our hands... how to handle
this humanitarian
disaster situation.
I was born in Bergen-Belsen
in the displaced persons' camp.
Both my parents were
liberated at Belsen.
My mother put together
a team to work
alongside the British
medical personnel
to try and save as many
as possible
of the thousands
of critically ill survivors.
At the same time,
my father emerged
as the leader, the political
leader of the survivors.
Most of them did not
want to go back
to their country of origin
but wanted to go, settle
in Palestine or elsewhere,
the United States,
Canada, and the like.
And apparently
the American answer was
definitely no.
"We're not taking
any ex-prisoners in.
We've got problems of our own."
Britain said, "No. There's
no way we're going to take
hundreds of thousands of... of these
homeless, stateless people in."
So that was the situation.
And so now of course
I am in heaven.
I am free.
I am in Germany, but I am free.
I can go anywhere I want to,
and I'm thinking to myself,
"Do I go back to Poland?"
It was so bad in Poland,
so bad for Jews.
"Do I want to go back to Poland,
but where do I go?"
And I hear about
at the time about Palestine,
about Israel, and I said,
"Those are my hopes."
During May, June,
and July, many Jewish survivors,
ignoring the views
of the British government,
went to Palestine,
where they found themselves
either turned back
or interned in camps.
The situation
of the survivors was
a complicating element
in a rapidly changing
post-war political climate.
The so-called Hitchcock film,
or the Bernstein film,
was made with the best
of intentions
and at a given point became
a political inconvenience.
It would have evoked
strong sympathy
on the part
of the average person
seeing the film of doing
something to help these people,
and certainly film that
was put together
with the genius of a Hitchcock
would undermine
their own political position.
At this time, the Brits
had enough problem
with the Jews already,
and, uh... and given that,
you show to the people
this movie,
maybe people will say,
"Why the British don't
"let these people
that suffered so much
let them have their land?"
Britain's wartime coalition
was confronting other,
more major problems.
A defeated
and destroyed Germany,
divided among the Allies,
had now become
the responsibility
of the victors.
As the nation most heavily
involved in the task
of reconstruction,
Britain was anxious
not to further alienate
the German people,
whose help would be vital.
Furthermore, with hints
of what would become known
as the Cold War
already appearing,
Germany was now seen as
a potential future ally
against the Soviet Union.
The evidence on the ground
in occupied Germany,
both in the American
and British sectors,
was indicating that
the Germans had already been
so bombarded with the message
of their guilt
that there's no need
for a film like this
any longer at this time.
America, however, was
still keen to show
a shorter film in Germany,
and had grown impatient
with Bernstein's slow progress.
There were secret talks with
Hollywood director Billy Wilder,
himself an Austrian refugee
from the Nazis,
with a view to taking
the film away from London.
In late June, a senior American
in the Psychological
Warfare Division
wrote a confidential memo
to his superior in Washington
suggesting the Bernstein that
team "should be relieved
"of all further responsibility
for the picture.
"It is our belief
that Mr. Bernstein
"would be relieved to have
the picture taken off his hands,
"and now that Billy Wilder
is with us,
"we are prepared to take
over the job.
"He would be appointed
producer and also
supervising director
for the film."
The involvement of the Americans
seems to have come
to an end of June '45
when they had really
become exasperated
that the British
were getting nowhere.
So they withdrew,
and subsequently,
they carried on making
a much shorter film
directed by Billy Wilder,
which was eventually released
in their own sector.
The film was called
"Death Mills."
The subject matter was similar,
but the treatment
of these two films
was entirely different.
The British film,
Bernstein's film, was
an artistically shaped film
with a much profounder message
that humanity must take note
of what had happened.
The American film was
a much more hectoring,
a short film which simply
accused the Germans
of having committed
these crimes.
At Belsen,
we caught the camp commander
Josef Kramer,
the Beast of Belsen.
Men or women, they
were the Nazi elite,
Himmler's own.
Amazons turned Nazi killers
were merciless
in the use of the whip,
practiced in torture and murder,
deadlier than the male.
When Allied armies approached,
the Nazis often tried to rush
their prisoners elsewhere.
Thousands were suffocated
in overcrowded freight cars.
Many of the dead and the dying
were flung into the water.
If the allies moved too rapidly,
the Nazis attempted
to kill their prisoners
so that no witnesses of their
crimes were left behind.
In Majdanek, in Ohrdruf,
in many other camps,
thousands were murdered
just before liberation.
Ignoring the politics
swirling around them,
Bernstein's team carried on
throughout July.
At the end of the month,
Hitchcock returned to Hollywood.
On August 4, a memo arrived
from the British Foreign Office
saying, "Policy at the moment
"in Germany is entirely
in the direction
"of encouraging, stimulating,
"and interesting the Germans
"out of their apathy,
"and there are people
around the Commander-in-Chief
who will say, No atrocity film".
By September,
the edit had been shut down.
The unfinished film,
together with shot lists,
cameramen's notes,
reels of footage,
and a copy of Crossman's
completed script
was labeled and filed away.
Bernstein moved on,
crossing the Atlantic
to begin a feature film
with Alfred Hitchcock.
Bernstein's last recorded note
on the film was a letter
from Hollywood to
Peter Tanner, the editor,
saying, "One day,
you will realize
it has been worthwhile."
documentary was shelved,
but the reels of film
that he'd used still had
a public role to play.
In the autumn of 1945,
the trials of Nazi
war criminals began,
and the prosecutors
found that they had
a new and powerful source
of evidence.
The first trial was
that of Commandant Kramer
and his staff
at Bergen-Belsen.
Kramer was convicted
of war crimes
and sentenced to death.
Anita, who had survived both
Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen
and who appeared in the British
liberation footage,
was one of those
called upon to testify.
Well, I was
asked to be a witness there,
yes, and I said,
"Yes, of course."
I found it was... was like
a theater performance to me.
I said, "There are
people sitting there
"defending these people?
"Are the crazy?
You see the crime,
you see the crime."
Later, in November,
the International Military
Tribunal, or IMT,
began in Nuremberg.
Here, too, film footage was
part of the evidence.
It certainly bolstered
the prosecution.
At the IMT, I think there's
no question that people
paid attention to the films,
and it... it informed people
in the courtroom
and confronted the defendants
with a mass
of demonstrable evidence
of their activities
over many years.
We are now ready to
hear the presentation
by the prosecution.
This was the tragic
fulfillment of a program
of intolerance and arrogance.
Vengeance is not our goal,
nor do we seek merely
a just retribution.
We ask this court to affirm by
international penal action
man's right to live
in peace and dignity,
regardless of his race or creed.
I was
appointed a chief prosecutor
in what was surely the biggest
murder trial in human history,
and it was my first case,
and I was 27 years old.
...will show that
the slaughter committed
by these defendants was dictated
not by military necessity
but by that supreme...
Even though
Bernstein's 1945 film
had been quietly dropped,
this was not
the end of its story.
70 years later,
an Imperial War Museum team
completed the film using
the original shot sheets,
script, and rushes
to meticulously reconstruct
Bernstein and Hitchcock's
intended final section.
We knew that it was
a powerful piece of cinema
and also had been made by some
of the best film technicians
and writers of the era.
What we wanted to do
was ultimately produce
and complete the work
of these original filmmakers.
This was the end of the journey
they had so confidently
begun in 1933.
12 years? No.
In terms of barbarity
and brutality,
they had traveled backwards
for 12,000 years.
Unless the world learns
the lesson these pictures teach,
night will fall...
but by God's grace,
we who live will learn.