Students Staff

11 May 2015

How films documented Nazi atrocities

The way film was used to document the ‘liberation’ of the Nazi death camps at the end of the Second World War is being analysed in a series of film screenings and panel discussion organised at the Goethe-Institut in London.

The programme is being curated by Thomas Tode and is a collaboration between the Imperial War Museums London, the University of Essex, Queen Mary, University of London, and the Institut Français du Royaume-Uni.

Documenting Nazi Atrocities: Early Films on the Liberation of the Camps runs until Friday 12 June and Professor Rainer Schulze from the Department of History at Essex will be taking part in the panel discussions organised to coincide with the screenings.

In the early months after the liberation of Germany, the Allied programme of ‘re-education’ aimed to confront the German population with their responsibility for the rise of National Socialism and its extermination policies. The moving image played an important role in this process.

This series of six programmes brings together films made by the Allied Powers between 1944 and 1946 that document the liberation of the camps and bear witness to the atrocities committed against Jews, Roma and Sinti, and other groups declared as ‘undesirable’ and not part of the Nazi vision of a homogenous German society.

The series will also include later films that became milestones in the use of archive footage through their new approaches to such images.

Introductions by historians and film experts will provide the historical context and address the various debates that have arisen around the representation of the victims. In particular, the talks will examine the recording and editing of the filmed ‘images of atrocity’ in the initial productions and their later reworking in subsequent films as archive footage.

A panel discussion on Friday 5 June will provide the opportunity to explore issues that have arisen during the screenings and introductions in more depth. Another panel discussion on Friday 12 June will relate the debates about the early holocaust films to more recent films dealing with violence and atrocities in a wider global context.

To see the full programme go to the Goethe-Institut London website.

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