Films of Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
A Note on Image and Sound in Memory of the Camps (1985): Jeffrey Gutierrez
A naked prisoner, his skeleton visible underneath his papery skin, staggering among corpses. A naked corpse dragged through the sand and tossed into a mass grave. These are among the scenes in Memory of the Camps which led Richard F. Shepard to write in The New York Times, “Far more than any fiction about the Holocaust can depict, ‘Memory of the Camps’ conveys the horror of the moment, the reality, more than the banality, of evil.”1
Memory of the Camps aimed to document atrocities witnessed at the liberation of several concentration camps, to arouse the German people against the National Socialist Party, and to negate possible Nazi denial of the camps’ existence. Still unfinished in 1945, no longer wanted by the military for “psychological warfare,” the film was abandoned and shelved in the archives of the Imperial War Museum, London. The film’s title was its location: F3080. One document among many, a sign reflective of the tattooed victims captured in its celluloid. When the film was rediscovered, it aired on Frontline, during the 40th anniversary of the end of WWII, and renamed Memory of the Camps.2 Being unfinished, the film displays a unique relationship between image and sound that incites one to reconsider the memory of the camps and how this horror can be interpreted visually.
The film begins by linking image with sound, establishing the importance of both in Hitler’s propaganda. It includes the mixing of the celebratory band, the...
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