How to Tell the Story of Liberated Concentration Camps: On the Written Documents of British Cameramen and Filmmakers
Presentation by Ulrike Weckel
In the seventh session of CERCEC's H2020 "Visual History of the Holocaust" Research Seminar, Ulrike Weckel (Justus Liebig University Giessen) explores what the written documents of British cameramen and filmmakers can tell us about their perceptions of Allied atrocity films.
Historians studying the making and screening of Allied atrocity films at the end of World War II are in the paradoxical position of knowing the most by far about the one film that was never finished or screened. It was the British, Sidney Bernstein’s team workin
g in the Ministry of Information in London, who gave the most thought discerning the stories that footage of the liberation of concentration camps could tell and which it should tell to especially German audiences. Fortunately for historians, the team sketched its main conclusions on paper. It also sent memos to the Army Film and Photographic Unit describing the material they wanted. And the British cameramen at Bergen Belsen filled out caption sheets, detailing the contents of their footage and the circumstances in which they had shot it. The talk will explore what the written documents can tell us about cameramen’s and filmmakers’ perceptions of the shocking images and the sensitivity with which at least some of them considered their effects on contemporary audiences.
H2020 “Visual History of the Holocaust”. Research Seminar 2021–2022:
As part of the Horizon 2020 project “Visual History of the Holocaust”, this seminar focuses on film documents created by Soviet filmmakers during the liberation of Nazi-occupied territories. The history of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe, the literature on mass violence, and the history of still and moving images serve to contextualize this little-known corpus of Soviet film images documenting Nazi crimes. Participants are invited to examine the period from 1941 to 1947, and thus to consider the different phases in which the identity of the victims was explicitly discussed or ignored. The seminar aims to engage in a dialog about the visual traces of Nazi atrocities in Central and Eastern Europe and the USSR. The Research Seminar 2021–2022 is hosted by CERCEC and coordinated by Sarah Gruszka, Valérie Pozner, and Irina Tcherneva.
LBIDH project: VHH
LBIDH team: Ingo Zechner