Over the weekend, as part of Holocaust Memorial Day, Channel4 showed a documentary called “Holocaust – Night Will Fall” about the films made by the allied forces as they discovered Nazi Germany’s various concentration and death-camps at the end of World War 2, and recorded what they saw and discovered.
While absolutely vile – despite descriptions, you never really see the true results of those camps – it was also essential viewing, and a fascinating story as well. No modern film can truly show the effects of emaciation on bodies – no actor, regardless of dedication, would put themselves to that level – so you might see people being “very thin”, but the recordings on Night Will Fall put all of that into perspective. It’s not something you can look away from, but nor can you believe either the way the bodies are/were, or the sheer number of deaths. The piles of spectacles, the boxes of dentures, the sacks of human hair – they all show how many died, but you still can’t actually understand the sheer scale of the deaths. I truly don’t think anyone can envision millions of bodies.
The other impressive thing about the programme was that Channel4 showed it without adverts. A ninety-minute film, straight through. I thought that said a lot about Channel4 (although the more cynical would say “who would actually buy advertising space in the middle of a holocaust documentary anyway?”) but it’s still a commitment on the part of C4, and I fully believe that should be acknowledged and respected, as they’re primarily a commercial channel.
The film/documentary itself, I just think everyone should see it, and that it should be shown in schools as part of a default history curriculum. That sort of thing just should never happen again. Ever.