Holocaust: Affect and Absence.
(Billy Wilder, US 1945, 22 min., 16mm)
Originally made with a German soundtrack for screening in occupied Germany and Austria, this film was the first documentary to show what the Allies found when they liberated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. The film includes accounts of the economic aspects of the camps’ operation, the interrogation of captured camp personnel, and the enforced visits of the inhabitants of neighboring towns, who, along with the rest of their compatriots, are blamed for complicity in the Nazi crimes—one of the few such condemnations in the Allied war records.
Night and Fog
(Nuit et brouillard, Alain Resnais, France 1956, 32 min., 16mm, French w/subtitles)
Ten years after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, filmmaker Alain Resnais documented the abandoned grounds of Auschwitz. One of the first cinematic reflections on the horrors of the Holocaust, Night and Fog contrasts the stillness of the abandoned camps’ quiet, empty buildings with haunting wartime footage. Resnais investigates the cyclical nature of man’s violence toward man and presents the unsettling suggestion that such horrors could come again.