New York Jewish FF: ‘The Lost Film of Nuremberg’ and ‘From Where They Stood’

Hermann Wilhelm Göring, from Nuremberg: It’s Lesson For Today (courtesy of The Lost Film of Nuremberg)

Two documentaries, screening at the New York Jewish FF are must-see viewing. Both have as their subject the recording of photographic evidence of the Shoah, the Holocaust (the mass murder of Jewish people under the German Nazi regime during the period 1941–45). Considering the rise of white supremacist hate groups encouraged by the former U.S. president, these films provide an important record. Since World War II though the Holocaust has been much written about and over the decades has been the subject of movies, films, articles and plays, the Nazi atrocities in concentration camps throughout Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy and other countries, increasingly have been called into question by global Holocaust deniers.

Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today (courtesy of The Lost Film of Nuremberg)

The Lost Film of Nuremberg chronicles how veterans of the OSS War Crimes Unit, brothers Bud and Stuart Schulberg (Hollywood filmmakers under the command of OSS film chief John Ford) endured obstacles and setbacks on their mission to track down and collect film evidence of Nazi war crimes to be used at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Their work was vital if done assiduously, for it would be used to judge the war crimes of high ranking Nazi officials like Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hermann Wilhelm Göring, Albert Speer, Rudolf Hess, Alfred Rosenberg and others, and punish them if found guilty.

Justice Robert Jackson presided over the trials (courtesy of The Lost Film of Nuremberg)

The Schulberg’s collection of Nazi films was used with testimony, documentation and the filmed proceedings of the Nuremberg trials to create Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today. Thus, The Lost Film of Nuremberg shows the discoveries and angst the Schulbergs went through to create the superb pro-democracy film Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today. It was released in 1948 throughout Germany, but it was never seen in the United States until a decade ago. Indeed, for over sixty years it had been “lost.”

Director/writer Christoph Klotz adapts daughter Sandra Schulberg’s monoaph, Filmmakers for the Prosecution to make The Lost Film of Nuremberg a stirring and exciting revelation about a chaotic period of time after WW II. Klotz includes tidbits from Schulberg’s perspective in letters to his wife. This material is provided by daughter Sandra. What makes the film more intriguing is the inclusion of Sandra’s perspective of her father and this commission which she only discovered after her mom died and she was cleaning out their home.

The defendants at the Nuremberg Trial, Palace of Justice (courtesy of The Lost Film of Nuremberg)

Klotz uses flashback liberally with narration by Sarah-Jane Sauvegrain to tie in the past and the present. Thus, we see clips of the youthful brothers examining Nazi film they’ve received. We hear/see Stuart’s letters to his wife detailing the journey to Germany and his impressions the to find films that the Nazis themselves produced. Stuart (the youngest member of the OSS Team) and brother Bud learned early on that the film they were making must be a compilation of actual films recording the words and deeds of the defendants. Thus, the incriminating films would be used to convict them.

Sandra learns salient details why her Dad’s “lost Nuremberg film,” edited and finalized in 1948 was created. It was to be shown in Germany and Europe for educational purposes. The intent was for the de-Nazification of the attitudes and mores of citizens after the war. It was also to show the difference between Allied Justice leveled against those committing crimes against humanity and Nazi Justice which was no justice if you were not a member of the Third Reich. Sandra’s eyes were opened to another side of her father’s vital work, for surely though it didn’t receive public release, other filmmakers knew of it and the archival Nazi films used to make it. These provided the linchpin around which subsequent films about the Holocaust would be made.

From Lennie Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (courtesy of The Lost Film of Nuremberg)

Klotz adds rare, never-before-seen footage, and reveals why the film was never released in the United States. Also, he includes Sandra’s reflections about what her father must have felt upon seeing the horrors of the camps as a young man. Klotz includes commentary of the older, retired Bud Schulberg giving a lecture about the subject of the film and why the Nazis made incriminating films of disturbing and horrific images. However, other films and Nazi evidence, buildings and documents were destroyed. The Nazis intended to escape justice, which many did, leaving Germany for the US, South America and other safe havens.

In The Lost Film of Nuremberg, Klotz relates the story of how German film director Lennie Riefenstahl was arrested and became a witness for the prosecution. Her propaganda film Triumph of the Will was created for Hitler’s use. The film identified various Nazi officials at Hitler rallies and it also evidenced Hitler’s plans. Another helpful individual was Hitler’s personal photographer Heinrich Hoffman, who had 12,000 negatives they used, after he was picked up, arrested and questioned.

As a result of the film evidence, the 19 out of 22 high ranking members of the Third Reich at Nuremberg were found guilty. Only three were acquitted. The other19 were either executed (Göring committed suicide) or received life or lesser sentences for committing crimes against humanity.

The Lost Film of Nuremberg is screening at 1 pm and 7 pm on 13 January at Lincoln Center, the Walter Reade Theater. Q & As with the director and producer Sandra Schulberg are also on that date. For tickets go to https://www.filmlinc.org/films/the-lost-film-of-nuremberg/

(courtesy of From Where They Stood)

From Where They Stood is French documentarian Christophe Cognet’s unadorned and acute investigation of rare secret photos taken by prisoners in various concentration camps at great risk to their lives. They did this in the hope of documenting the atrocities they witnessed from spring 1943 to the fall of 1944. Examining the negatives carefully with a magnifying glass, Cognet visits the camps where the prisoners took the film and then either buried it to dig it up later or sent it out in a package. Some negatives came with a description that was revealed after the liberation of the prisoners who then wrote down the information. Other photos are of portraits of prisoners with no explanation or names sitting against the barracks. Others are of crematoria.

Many of the photos elucidate and confirm life and atrocities in various camps: Dachau, Buchenwald, Mittelbau-Dora, Ravensbrück, Auschwitz-Birkenau. With a translator, Cognet visits the camps and adjusts the photo negatives so that the viewer can see how the photo depicts what the location looked like. Verified are crematories, burn pits where bodies were disintegrated as much as possible. Interestingly, the bone fragments are present to this day, leaving a record of the great crimes of murder. The bone fragments to the surface after a heavy rainfall.

Unlike The Lost Film of Nuremberg, there is no music or narration or attempt to thread the places together. We hear just the silence of footsteps crunching against the walkways and the sound of birds chirping in the background. The simplicity is haunting and one realizes one is viewing a graveyard where many innocents suffered because they were considered enemies of the Third Reich.

A woman from Ravensbrück showing her injury from being experimented on (courtesy of From Where They Stood)

Cognet also includes negatives which document Sonderkommandos (usually Jewish prisoners who pulled out the naked bodies from the gas chambers and piled them on carts taking them to the crematories) stand in front of a massive pile of bodies to dispose of and burn. Additionally, women who had been used for experiments (referred to as rabbits) also pose for the camera showing the areas of their body where they’ve been experimented on. Reference is made to one experiment: a gash is made and gas gangrene is encouraged by injecting a bacillus into the site. The wound is left untreated to see the progress of the gangrene.

Because Cognet uses straight cinema verite style, the effect of the prisoners’ photographs of the past paralleled with the locations of those places in the camps in the present is stark and shocking. The posting of the enlarged negatives at the location allows the viewer to see what the prisoner saw, to stand in his or her shoes. Indeed, it leaves one numb to consider the risk these individuals, took to sneak out the film to document what was going on so the world would know. For this film Cognet’s minimalism to just see what is in the photograph is remarkable.

From Where They Stood is screening virtually from 14-19 January. For tickets go to https://www.filmlinc.org/films/from-where-they-stood/

The Lost Film of Nuremberg is screening at 1 pm and 7 pm on 13 January at Lincoln Center, the Walter Reade Theater. Q & As with the director and producer Sandra Schulberg are also on that date. For tickets go to https://www.filmlinc.org/films/the-lost-film-of-nuremberg/

About caroleditosti

Carole Di Tosti, Ph.D. is an Entertainment Journalist, novelist, poet and playwright. Writing is my life. When I don't write I am desolate. Carole Di Tosti has over 1800 articles, reviews, sonnets and other online writings. Carole Di Tosti writes for Blogcritics.com, Theater Pizzazz and other New York theater websites. Carole Di Tost free-lanced for VERVE and wrote for Technorati for 2 years. Some of the articles are archived. Carole Di Tosti covers premiere film festivals in the NY area:: Tribeca FF, NYFF, DOC NYC, Hamptons IFF, NYJewish FF, Athena FF. She also covers SXSW film. Carole Di Tosti's novel 'Peregrine: The Ceremony of Power,' is being released in November-December. Her two-act plays 'Edgar,' 'The Painter on His Way to Work,' and 'Pandemics' in the process of being submitted for representation and production.

Posted on January 11, 2022, in Film Festival Screenings, Film Reviews, New York Jewish Film Festival and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. MAGA, QANONS, PROUD BOYS WILL ATTEND AND THEN GO OUT AND BEAT UP JEWS.

    Sent from Mail for Windows

    Like

  2. First paragraph…they won’t go…Holocaust deniers. I know why they said “blood and soil” in the Charlottesville march…Nazi policies…and positive Christianity (in reality paganism and master race theories.

    Like

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