Memory of the Camps
Join the Discussion: What are your thoughts after viewing Memory of the Camps, this 60- year old film that documents the liberation of the  Nazi death camps in the spring of 1945?

Dear FRONTLINE,

Twenty years ago, when the program was first aired, my family was in a small way able to understand what the camps were like. My brother Sam and I were two of the children seen behind the barbed wire fence. (I am holding his shoulder.) We had been transfered from Ravensbruck two month earlier. Although I do not remember the filming the memory of that feeling of wonder at seeing the new soldiers is still part of my life.

Peter Stern
Newtown, Ct.

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am a survivor of Bergen Belsen who has been living in the USA since 1946. I was present when the British troops first entered the camp. I want to thank Frontline for bringing this film to the US and airing it.

Unbelievably, I noticed myself in the film, standing behind the barbed
wire fence, waving and smiling.Words cannot express how moving it was for me to view this piece of my life and liberation. I have already ordered and received a copy of the video from Frontline.

Thank you again.

Mania Salinger
Bloomfield, MI

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

After receiving this letter, FRONTLINE wrote Mrs. Salinger to ask if she might share more of her story. Here is what she wrote back:

"It was my daughter who saw this "Frontline" on TV and nearly fell off the sofa and taped it on the 3:OO AM rebroadcast. I appear very briefly in the film at 5 minutes into it. The narrator says, '...and women laughed and waved their hands.' I am in the center, front row (short) with my arm up.
I am Jewish, from Poland, survivor of 4 and 1/2 years labor and concentration camps.

I arrived in Bergen Belsen in the Fall of 1944 from Auschwitz and Hindenburg. Needless to say I survived by a miracle. It was April 15, 1945, I was running a temperature (had an infection) and struggled in the early morning out of the barracks filled with 800 or 900 sick, dead, diseased girls to get to the water outside. I noticed the watch tower was empty. No German guard inside. I ventured a few steps further and noticed the next tower empty too, no one in sight. Scared and bewildered, I walked further and then, amazed, I saw a white flag in the distance. I ran towards the front gate screaming and got there just as the first English tank was entering the camp (that's why I am up front). Other tanks followed and through the loudspeaker, and with tear filled voices, the British soldiers repeated over and over, 'Be calm, be calm, help is on the way.'

It was a British doctor who the next day saved my life by giving a penicillin shot, the only one he had. The story of my liberation is in Sir Martin Gilbert's book, "The Day the War Ended" on page 18/19. My maiden name is Tenenbaum."

Dear FRONTLINE,

"Memory in the Camps" was shocking footage.

I have seen the film the Russians shot of Auschwitz at the museum itself. I have walked around the grounds in the cold and damp while snowflakes covered the pathways. I thought I had some knowledge of the atrocities of the Holocast but your showing of "Memory of the Camps" proved how little I really know. That cliche of a picture is a 1000 words comes to mind.

The SS guards hauling the dead off like a bag of coal. The villagers walking past the tables of camp souvenirs - tattoos as lampshades. The enormity of the dots on a map indicating a concentration camp. Barb wired "box springs." Wooden signs Grave 1...10. The numbers 5000 2000.

As powerful today as it will be in the future. We need to be reminded lest we forget.

Karen Topham
Tucson, AZ

Dear FRONTLINE,

It was with horror that I watched �Memory of the Camps.� No one in my family died in the holocaust. However my father a British soldier liberated Belsen. I always watch these types of programs to keep alive the feeling of disgust at the level the Nazi regime sunk to but always in hopes of seeing a glimpse of my father. The experience affected him all of his life and he never got over his general disgust for the German people. To see and smell all that suffering and death! How could an average person deal with that horror?

When I saw those SS men and women dragging those corpses over their shoulders or by the legs � I wanted to just have one of those heartless people cradle a young woman in their arms and carry her to her grave � to show some remorse or some caring. Even after 60 years this is gut-wrenching television.

Susan Poe
Meridian, Idaho

Dear FRONTLINE,


Thank you for broadcasting this film. I hope you show it way more often than once every 20 years perhaps once a year on V-E Day. For me the most enlightening part of this film was the number of death camps in small German towns. I had thought they were concentrated in a few areas for the murder of millions. Now I realize as the narrator said that it was not possible that any German did not know what was going on during the Holocaust.

Jean Reeve
Clearwater, Florida

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

FRONTLINE has rebroadcast "Memory of the Camps" several times since its first airing in May of 1985. And now it is also available for viewing online here on this Web site streamed in Real Player or Windows Media format.

Dear FRONTLINE,

I watched Frontline last night Memory of the Camps and thought I had seen the Camp stories but this was very very hard to watch. This should be shown in all schools or groups who wear Swatstika signs on their clothes or groups who think nothing of looking up to being a Nazi.

Keep up your wonderful program.

olga bernard
poway, ca

Dear FRONTLINE,

Dear Frontline: I admire your show so much - for the subject matter and issues you choose to tackle and the informative and provocative way you present it. Over the years I have viewed numerous films documentaries and programs about the Holocaust but it was not until this presentation of "Memory of the Camps" that I TRULY understood the term "holocaust" and got a genuine sense of the graphic scale of the event. It was a harrowing experience to watch. Keep up the excellent work in presenting the public with enriching and significant programming on public television.

Todd Buckingham
Los Angeles, California

Dear FRONTLINE,

A few weeks ago my husband and I visited with our son who is a college student in Germany. We saw the Documentation Center in Nurenburg which focuses on the Nazi takeover of Germany and then saw the culmination of the Nazi propaganda machine in our visit to Buchenwald.

At the camp we experienced disbelief and a somber quietness prevailed throughout the entire time of our visit. However until we viewed "Memory of the Camps" our wildest imaginings of the horror that took place could not come close to the actual horror that existed. As difficult as it is to watch this film it should be required viewing for students. But even more it should be required of anyone who holds power in government or in the military. World leaders should never be allowed to forget how absolute power can become absolute inhumanity if not held in check.

Leigh Andersen
Stone Mountain, GA

Dear FRONTLINE,

How can we thank you for the periodic airing of "Memory of the Camps"? I had seen the program before but never in the presence of my now 15 year old daughter. I am grateful that she has matured enough to understand this horror. As awful as all the scenes were she gasped at the sadism typified in the scenes from the barracks where prisoners were made to sleep on barbed wire......

How is it possible that human beings can be so devoid of feeling? Perhaps it is a measure of the growth of our humanity that we would be aghast at people treating animals like this much less another human being! But I am not naive. We must constantly remain vigilant against falling into such circumstances that such brutality loses any impact on us. A previous writer mentioned that these atrocities continue in other places on our planet to this day. How can we permanently remove this dark side of ourselves forever?

Thanks again for all the fine programs you produce. Your program has to be the finest example of what television should be.

Lawrence Telles
Indianola, Washington

Dear FRONTLINE,

It is the moments of stark silence in this film as the narration drops out when the horror of what occurred must be confronted fully by the viewer with nothing to hold on. No safety net to fall into but just the utter terror of what happened.

It is then that this film succeeds in forcing all who see it to proclaim that this will not happen on their watch. The power of these moments is visceral and lasting.

Thank you for showing it uncensored and unmodified.

Alex Ezell
Rome, GA

Dear FRONTLINE,

This was the single most horrifying video footage I have ever seen. We are truly fortunate to have the opportunity to bear witness to this horror. I say this despite the fact that viewing the film made me physically ill. This should be a regular part of the high school curriculum.

We must never forget but we must first truly understand. Time and distance have eased the edges of these memories but with that ease comes innacuracy. The truth of these images is undeniable. The graphic quality is necessary for transferrence of that truth to future generations. Each generation must be reminded of its moral responsibility to remember and to judge each individual social and political decision accordingly.

Don Barry
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Dear FRONTLINE,

In 1961 I was an airman stationed in Germany. On the way to Munich to attend the Octoberfest with three of my companions we observed a sign reading "Dachau". Having a great interest in WWII history I knew the significance of that place. After a some discussion we decided to visit the camp. The closer we got the quieter we became.

Touring the camp facilities including walking through the gas chamber to the crematorium and standing by the sign indicating that this was the "execution range with blood ditch" was a totally numbing experience. As I recall not one word passed between us from the time we approached the camp and untill we were we well away from that awful place. To this day I still remember what the color black feels like.

Kent Garrett
Turner, OR

Dear FRONTLINE,

I felt a mixture of revulsion pity anger and mostly fear while watching this video. That these atrocities happened is horrible - that situations like them are still happening in places like the Sudan is inconceivable.

Although painful to watch I think everybody should watch this uncensored view of what the Holocaust was and is -- thank you for televising it. It certainly opened my eyes and increased my knowledge of what horrors the Jews and other persecuted groups suffered.

Christine Phillips
Zachary, LA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for showing "Memory of the Camps". This film needs to be shown in every classroom and more importantly to every government. We ask why and how this happened but it continues to happen in Rwanda Bosnia and so on. Please air this more than every 20 years.

Damian Nygaard
Windsor, Ontario

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

FRONTLINE has rebroadcast "Memory of the Camps" several times since its first airing in 1985. And beginning this Thursday it will be available for online viewing - video streamed in Real Player and Windows Media format.

Dear FRONTLINE,

Dear Frontline

I recently viewed Hotel Rwanda and was brought to tears by the atrocities that occured there. After watching Memory of Camps I cannot help but wonder why ? Why it happened then and why it happened a decade ago and why it is happening in the Sudan now ? It is too easy to become numb or forget. We cannot do either. Thank you for showing this documentary. Hopefully we will learn.

M. S.
INdiana

Michelle Shoup
Marion, IN

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posted may 3, 2005

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