ghosts of remembrance: of things past

The docudrama. It was awful as commercial cinema. In fact it was a form of propaganda. But in its own inscrutable way, the newsreel style, the efforts to depict reality and achieve political goals in West Germany through cinema were an odd collaboration between Hollywood and the Armed Forces, that impacted Italian neo-realism cinema through the use of raw footage. The original mandate was to convey the message of collective guilt over the destruction and films were mounted with this thesis in mind. Early on, there was much civilian resistance to this, with claims that allied attacks were worse than they appeared in the films, that Russians in Silesia were treating German POW’s harsher than the Nazis, that Jews in Bergen Belsen did not suffer as the films portrayed, and so on. Whether this was collective disavowal is not clear.

---Hitler Lives? 1945. USA. Directed by Don Siegel. Screenplay by Saul Elkins, based on Your Job in Germany by Theodor Geisel. Narrated by Knox Manning. Controversial for its assertion that Germans are essentially untrustworthy and must be constantly monitored, this was first intended as a training tool for occupying troops. The initial version was penned by the future Dr. Seuss (Geisel).--- Read More:

The Hollywood got involved in the de-Nazification process, and as re-education devices, films like Todesmuhlen was an abject failure. It reminds me of the art of Anselm Kiefer and the baggage of dressing his pieces in Kabbalah; these grey works of art, grey of melencholy and not of mourning. Mourning. Thats what the dead yids were good for. They died. Let them do the heavy lifting. Film also communicates through emotional stereotypes, and Hollywood is not the place for only depicting some Germans as evil; they will indict them all and avoid the more subtle and ambiguous themes of collective complicity, obedience to authority etc.

---"Commissioned by the US government, the film, originally titled Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, was woven by writer-director Stuart Schulberg from footage of the initial 10-month trial of former leaders of the Nazi regime, and from two documentaries on the Reich's war plan and its concentration-camp atrocities made by an OSS unit — led by John Ford and including Schulberg's brother Budd, future screenwriter of On the Waterfront. Now restored by the filmmaker's daughter, Sandra, with Josh Waletzky, including newly incorporated trial audio and rerecorded narration, the fact of Nuremberg's denial of a release in postwar America might seem incomprehensible until, after the movie's first third details the conquest of Europe by Germany, the narrator declares, 'Two of the world's mightiest nations — the United States and Soviet Russia — blocked the Nazi drive for world supremacy.' By the time of the documentary's completion in 1948, Stalin's Reds had displaced the Nazis as the Yanks's most loathed villains,...Read More:

So, these collective guilt films were shown, but the policy of the State Department, was now, in the wake of the cold war, to convince German civilians that Naziism represented a moral horror of unprecedented proportions.

In any event, its something we will never understand. We can understand vaguely, a bit, at the idea of the irrational and nihilistic resulting when there is a disconnect between fantasy and reality; but basically we are grasping at straws. ….

---Originally made with a German soundtrack for screening in occupied Germany and Austria, this film was the first documentary to show what the Allies found when they liberated the Nazi extermination camps: the survivors, the conditions, and the evidence of mass murder. This movie is part of the collection: Short Format Films Director: Billy Wilder Production Company: U.S. Army Signal Corps--- Read More:


Justice Robert H. Jackson shocked the courtroom on November 29, 1945, when he decided to present Nazi Concentration Camps, a 1-hour compilation of U.S. and British motion picture material that

shot as the Allies were liberating some of the concentration camps.

In a letter published in 1947, Stuart Schulberg described how, at the last moment, on the morning of the presentation, he taped neon tubing under the armrest of the prisoners’ dock, so that it would be possible to see the defendants’ reactions to the film in the darkened courtroom.

When Stuart Schulberg and his editor, Joseph Zigman, made Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, they intertwined the courtroom scenes with excerpts from The Nazi Plan and Nazi Concentration Camps.Read More:

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