On 17 April the BFI will release German Concentration Camps Factual Survey on DVD and Blu-ray in a Dual Format Edition. This lost masterpiece of British documentary filmmaking recorded the horrors that were discovered in the German concentration camps upon liberation and has never been released on disc before. Now, restored and completed by IWM (Imperial War Museums), it will be presented in a Special Archival Edition with newly-created contextualising special features and archival interviews with British soldiers, SS guards and recently liberated prisoners.
On 29 September 1945, the incomplete rough-cut of a disturbing yet compelling documentary revealing the horrors of the German concentration camps was screened at the Ministry of Information in London. For five months, Sidney Bernstein (who later founded Granada Television) had led a small team – which included Stewart McAllister, Richard Crossman and Alfred Hitchcock – to complete the film from hours of footage.
Unfortunately, this ambitious Allied project to create a feature-length visual report that would damn the Nazi regime and shame the German people into acceptance of the Allied occupation had missed its moment, and was left unfinished and shelved. Even in its incomplete form, the film was immensely powerful, generating a shocked silence among audiences. But now, complete to six reels, this faithfully restored and definitive version produced by Imperial War Museums and with a newly recorded narration by actor Jasper Britton, has been rightly compared with Alain Resnais’ Night and Fog (1955).
The release of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey coincides with the anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen (15 April 1945).
The film was the subject of the 2014 documentary feature Night Will Fall.
German Concentration Camps Factual Survey will be released on UK Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) on 17 April 2017 at the RRP of £29.99.
Click here for a short clip.
- New restoration by IWM (Imperial War Museums) which was recognised with a Special Award at the FOCAL International Awards 2015
- Presented with both an optional contextualising Intro and Outro
- Panel Discussion at the BFI Southbank (2015, 42 mins): restoration director Dr Toby Haggith (IWM) is joined on-stage by a panel of experts to discuss the film
- Audio commentary with Dr Toby Haggith and BFI senior curator Patrick Russell
- Vox Pops Compilation (2015, 6 mins): cinema-goers reflect after a screening at BFI Southbank
- Statement from Ludwig Weill at Fort Breendonk (1944, 3 mins): archival statement with a liberated prisoner
- Statements at Bergen-Belsen (1945, 18 mins): statements from SS guards, freed prisoners and members of the British Army
- Interviews at Dachau (1945, 38 mins): archival interviews with recently liberated prisoners
- Testimony from Dr Petr Zenkl (1945, 13 mins): archival testimony from the Czech politician who was imprisoned at Dachau and Buchenwald
- Archival soundtrack – alternative soundtrack which features only the narration and the original synch-sound
- 80-page perfect-bound book with comprehensive essays on the making of the film and its restoration, and full film credits