German Concentration Camps Factual Survey
Produced by Sidney Bernstein for the British Ministry of Information, the film was originally made to document the liberation of the German concentration camps in 1945 and to also provide evidence of the atrocities to the German public.
Bernstein asked Alfred Hitchcock (who is credited as a "treatment advisor") to help collaborate on the assembling of the footage for a project initially known as German Concentration Camps Factual Survey. In particular, Hitchcock advised on the most effective methods of editing the sequences together.
By the time the film was ready for a potential release, there had been a change in the Anglo-German relations and the film was shelved. For a number of years, the film feels languished in the Imperial War Museum and were known only by their archival title number: "F3080".
In 1970s, Hitchcock told Henri Langlois, co-founder of the Cinémathèque Française, "At the end of the war, I made a film to show the reality of the concentration camps, you know. Horrible. It was more horrible than any fantasy horror. Then, nobody wanted to see it. It was too unbearable. But it has stayed in my mind all of these years."
Memory of the Camps (1985)
In 1985, PBS Frontline acquired the film and commissioned British actor Trevor Howard to provide the narration. The film was screened under the title Memory of the Camps. At the time, the sixth and final reel of the film was missing.
German Concentration Camps Factual Survey (2014)
Due to the continued interested in the film, in 2008 the Imperial War Museums began a full restoration which included the reconstruction of the missing sixth reel, based on original shot list. Actor Jasper Britton recorded the commentary for the restored film.
Night Will Fall (2014)
To accompany the IWM restoration, documentary maker André Singer produced a 75-minute film titled Night Will Fall covering the history of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey.
In September 2014, Singer was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 Front Row programme:
In his review in The Observer, film critic Mark Kermode noted that, "This impressively sober, thoughtful documentary serves as a contextualising companion piece, juxtaposing horrifying raw footage with interviews with those who first viewed these appalling, devastating images."
Reviewed in The Telegraph, Anna Smith described it as "Devastating, horrifying [...] They’re scenes that we've seen glimpses of before in documentaries, but rarely to this extent. Haunted, concave faces stare out at the soldiers, hardly able to comprehend potential liberation. Hundreds of skeletal bodies are flung onto piles. Warehouses are piled high with bi-products of genocide, including sacks of human hair. And as the narration notes, what could be more haunting an object than the toy of a slaughtered child?"
Taken from PBS broadcast of Memory of the Camps.