Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Auschwitz: The Nazis and 'The Final Solution'

Auschwitz: The Nazis and 'The Final Solution' is a BBC six-episode documentary film series presenting the story of Auschwitz through interviews with former inmates and guards to include authentic re-enactments of relevant events.

The series uses four principal elements: rarely seen contemporary color and monochrome film from archives, interviews with survivors such as Dario Gabbai and former Nazis such as Oskar Gröning, computer-generated reconstructions of long-demolished buildings as well as meticulously detailed and historically accurate re-enactments of meetings and other events. These are linked by modern footage of locations in and around the site of the Auschwitz camp.

Laurence Rees stressed that the re-enactments were not dramatisations, but exclusively based on documented sources:

"There is no screenwriter… Every single word that is spoken is double — and in some cases triple — sourced from historical records."

This reflects the conception of the earlier BBC/HBO film Conspiracy, which similarly recreates the Wannsee Conference (an event briefly portrayed in programme 2 of this series) based on a copy of the minutes kept by one of the attendees, although that film also includes speculative dramatised sections.

The computer-generated reconstructions used architectural plans that only became available in the 1990s when the archives of the former Soviet Union became accessible to Western historians. The discovery of these plans is described in the 1994 BBC Horizon documentary Auschwitz: The Blueprints of Genocide.

As Soviet troops approached Auschwitz in January 1945, most of its population was evacuated and sent on a death march. The prisoners remaining at the camp were liberated on January 27, 1945, a day now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In the following decades, survivors, such as Primo Levi, Viktor Frankl, and Elie Wiesel, wrote memoirs of their experiences in Auschwitz, and the camp became a dominant symbol of the Holocaust. In 1947, Poland founded a museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II, and in 1979, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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