75 Years After Auschwitz’s Liberation, Watch Four Documentaries That Keep the “Memory of the Camps” Alive

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January 27, 2020

On Jan. 27, 1945 Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz — the notorious death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland where over a million people were murdered.

Seventy-five years later, anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise — and knowledge about the Holocaust among younger generations appears to be on the decline. In fact, according to a 2018 survey by Claims Conference, a group that negotiates restitution for Holocaust survivors, 66 percent of millennials could not identify what Auschwitz was, and 22 percent had not heard of or were unfamiliar with the Holocaust.

Four documentaries from the PBS investigative series FRONTLINE are helping to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive — from presenting horrific firsthand footage of the atrocities Allied forces found when they liberated Nazi death camps in Germany, to telling the stories of some of the Holocaust’s last living survivors.

“Time is marching on, and it will not be long before there will be no first-hand survivors alive,” Manfred Goldberg, who was held in Nazi concentration camps as a child, told FRONTLINE in 2019’s The Last Survivors. “And it is important to record this testimony as evidence for future generations.”

Stream four essential documentaries about the Holocaust below:

Memory of the Camps (1985)

When Allied troops invaded Germany and liberated the Nazi death camps there, British and American film crews were at their side. They documented unspeakable horrors: Gas chambers. Pits full of the bodies of thousands of systematically starved men, women, and children. Crematoria designed to burn large numbers of corpses. And haunted, emaciated survivors. A partially-made film using the shocking footage — directed in part by Alfred Hitchcock — languished in a vault in London’s Imperial War museum for decades, until FRONTLINE found many of its components (including a written script), recorded and added the script, and aired the film unedited in 1985. Memory of the Camps is an unflinching documentation of the conditions of the death camps, that no one who has seen can ever forget.

Shtetl (1996)

FRONTLINE travels back in time to a family shtetl, a small village, with producer Marian Marzynski. As a child, Marzynski escaped the Warsaw ghetto and was raised by Christians. The remarkable three-hour film tells the homecoming story of two elderly Polish-American Jews who return to their families’ shtetl, Bransk, Poland, where 2,500 Jews lived before most were sent to Treblinka’s gas chambers. These two Americans are aided in their journey by a Polish Gentile who has restored Bransk’s Jewish cemetery and researched the lives of the Jews who once lived there. The film follows these pilgrims as they face old neighbors — some who were betrayers, others who were saviors to the Jews of Bransk.

Never Forget to Lie (2013)

In the most recent of his critically-lauded autobiographical films, Marzynski explores his own wartime childhood and the experiences of other child survivors. Marzynski teases out their feelings about Poland, the Catholic Church, and the ramifications of identities forged under circumstances where survival began with the directive “never forget to lie.”

The Last Survivors (2019)

As young children, they lived through the Holocaust. More than seventy years after World War II, some of the last remaining survivors recount their memories and the lingering trauma. FRONTLINE offers a haunting look at how disturbing childhood experiences and unimaginable loss have affected the daily lives and relationships of some of the Holocaust’s youngest victims – from survivor’s guilt, to crises of faith and second-generation trauma.


Patrice Taddonio

Patrice Taddonio, Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist, FRONTLINE

Twitter:

@ptaddonio

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