Hitler’s concentration camps, new film


This video from Britain says about itself:

Night Will Fall (2014) – André Singer (Trailer) | BFI release

3 September 2014

André Singer’s extraordinary new documentary about the filming of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps is released on 19 September 2014 at BFI Southbank and cinemas nationwide.

By Paul Mitchell:

Night Will Fall: A powerful depiction of Nazi atrocities

26 November 2014

A British Film Institute release, directed by André Singer, written by Lynette Singer and narrated by Helena Bonham Carter

Night Will Fall is a timely film, given the climate of militarism and the deliberate encouragement of right-wing reaction in the aftermath of the economic crash of 2008. It details the Nazi atrocities that were the product of the crisis of German imperialism out of which Hitler’s regime arose.

The work is a film about a lost film, “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey” (GCCFS), the official British record of the camps, which was shelved unfinished, for political reasons, at the end of the Second World War.

The survey has now been completed, 70 years later, by Imperial War Museum (IWM) experts sifting through some 100 reels of unedited footage shot by specially trained ex-combat soldiers to recreate the sixth and final reel following the instructions laid down by the original production team in 1945.

The GCCFS is a remarkable work that succeeds in depicting the terrible crimes of the Holocaust in a ground-breaking and accurate manner. It begins in April 1945 with British troops approaching Belsen-Bergen concentration camp. The first indications of the horrors that awaited them was the overwhelming smell, which they discovered emanated from heaps of emaciated corpses piled between groups of starving, expressionless survivors.

Cameraman Sgt. Mike Lewis describes how, “We were there for about two weeks filming all these sights. No film I’ve seen since really conveys the feeling of despair and horror that can be done to people who were Europeans of another faith … I thought as time passed by it might leave me, to forget, but it never does leave you”.

Similar feelings were expressed by legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock, who provided advice on shooting the GCCFS, particularly ways to avoid accusations of fakery. In the 1970s, Hitchcock recounted, “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”.

The GCCFS includes footage from July 1944, when Soviet troops advancing from the East made the first contact with the system of camps at Majdanek, where warehouses were discovered littered with boxes of human hair, teeth, children’s’ toys, spectacles and other possessions.

Footage is shown of Auschwitz, which unlike Bergen-Belsen and Majdanek was a slave labour and extermination camp. More than a million people died in the gas chambers, their fates decided within minutes of arrival.

One of the few survivors, Eva Mozes, describes how, “The cattle car doors slid open. Thousands of people poured out of the cattle car. My father and two older sisters disappeared in the crowd. Never, ever did I see them again … A woman came up to my mother, took the little suitcase and asked, ‘Are these two twins?’ My mother said ‘Yes’, and the woman said, ‘Why don’t you say they are twins? It’s a good thing to have twins here”.

Eva and her sister Miriam were amongst the few sets of twins to survive from the 1,500 who underwent cruel medical experimentation at the hands of Dr Josef Mengele.

Smiling children through barbed wire

Amongst the unrelenting horror and despair, there are still signs of humanity. One sequence shows smiling children, glad at being rescued and another reveals how quickly the starving inmates could recover physically once they received food, medicines and attention.

The GCCFS was commissioned in April 1945 by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) under the command of US General Dwight D. Eisenhower for use as evidence in war crime trials and the “re-education” of the “vanquished Germans”. It shows local inhabitants being marched into the camps to watch former SS officers burying the dead in mass graves. The smiles and good humour of the onlookers rapidly disappear.

Sidney Bernstein, who headed the film section at Britain’s Ministry of Information was appointed as producer and assembled a small team including the “best known editor in London”, Stewart McAllister. Richard Crossman, the Assistant Chief of SHAEF’s Psychological Warfare Division, an offshoot of the intelligence organisation, the Special Operations Executive, was employed as scriptwriter. Crossman became a Labour Party MP in 1945, cabinet minister in the Harold Wilson government and editor of the New Statesman.

According to Dr Toby Haggith, Senior Curator at the IWM in charge of the restoration and completion of the GCCFS, the project confronted difficulties from the start. Some British officials wanted to censor the material, while others were opposed to showing it all—concerned about public reaction to the atrocities, especially the close-ups of dead women and children.

Haggith indicates there was “fierce rivalry” between Britain and the US over the direction the film should take. Bernstein wanted his meticulous “systematic record” to be educational and “to improve the world”, but US officials wanted “a hard-hitting film—and they wanted it immediately”.

The US withdrew its support from the GCCFS in July 1945, instead appointing filmmaker Billy Wilder to make a shorter film, Death Mills, from the same material, which was shown in the American sector.

Night Will Fall also discusses other pressures preventing the completion of the GCCFS. Bernstein later revealed, “The military command, our Foreign Office and the US State Department, decided that the Germans were in a state of apathy and had to be stimulated to get the machine of Germany working again. They didn’t want to rub their noses in the atrocities”.

The US and Britain were also embroiled in a controversy over what to do with Jewish refugees. Both governments wanted to prevent or limit the numbers travelling to their countries and Palestine and were concerned about the sympathy the documentary would arouse about their plight.

The development of the Cold War was a major factor. The uncompleted sixth reel intended to show the liberation of the camps in the East by the Soviet army, but their revelations about the atrocities were dismissed by the US and Britain as propaganda.

While Night Will Fall acknowledges that the beginning of the Cold War contributed to the demise of the GCCFS, it downplays the fact that thousands of Nazi war criminals became valuable assets for the US. They helped create the post-war German intelligence agency BND, or became spies, researchers and scientists for US military and intelligence agencies. At least five top associates of Holocaust organiser Adolf Eichmann were employed by the CIA after the war.

Night Will Fall ends with a plea that such terrible things not happen again. However, moral outrage cannot substitute for a historical and materialist understanding of the roots of such barbarity in the crisis of capitalism.

Historical developments meant that German imperialism had to turn to the Nazi movement in order to destroy the powerful German workers’ movement and pursue its project, started in World War I, of an empire in the East (Lebensraum). The stability of the fascist regime required the removal and extermination of the “Jew-Bolsheviks”, who were seen as a threat above all because of their profound connection with the workers ’ movement and Marxism. Moreover, as imperialist rivalry increases, Germany is once again seeking to reassert its geostrategic interests and expand to the East–in Ukraine–through the coup assisted by the fascists in Svoboda and the Right Sector.

The Spanish civil war and British artists


This video is called Pablo Picasso – Guernica (1937).

By Christine Lindey in Britain:

Exhibition Review: Conscience and Conflict: British Artists and the Spanish civil war

Tuesday 25th November 2014

CHRISTINE LINDEY recommends an exhibition of art inspired by the Spanish civil war

THE momentous interwar years between 1918 and 1939 galvanised British artists into political commitment. Inspired by the Bolshevik revolution, and appalled by the rise of fascism and the deprivation caused by the great depression, many turned to the left. Defence of the Spanish republic against the 1936 fascist insurrection united the anti-fascist peace movement.

This exhibition about British artists’ responses to the Spanish civil war highlights wider 1930s political and aesthetic debates. Art historian Roger Fry’s dominant ideology of “art for art’s sake” was contested by calls for politically engaged art by socialist and communist artists.

While working as an illustrator in the USSR in the early 1930s Cliff Rowe was impressed by its cultural policies. On returning home he founded the Artists International in 1933. It called for “the international unity of artists against imperialist war on the Soviet Union, fascism and colonial oppression” and its purpose was to spread this message through posters, banners, illustrations, exhibitions, meetings and lectures.

The following year it was equipped with a politically milder slogan and renamed the Artists International Association (AIA). Its membership grew rapidly and in 1936-9 it became the main focus for artists’ defence of Spain by raising public consciousness and funds.

Some artists argued for direct action and Felicia Browne, Julian Bell and Clive Branson fought in the International Brigade. Only Branson survived.

Felicia Browne, self-portrait

Browne, at the age of 32, was the first British volunteer killed in battle and in her self-portrait she returns our gaze squarely as a woman belligerently defiant of social convention.

She became a posthumous communist hero as commemorative exhibitions and publications of her uncompromisingly decisive drawings of Spanish militiamen and women raised money for Spain.

Other artists argued that creating propaganda was more useful and several rejected easel painting in favour of public arts as more effective tools of socio-political change.

The exhibition includes the AIA’s modernist banner for the British battalion of the International Brigade created by James Lucas, Phyllis Ladyman and Betty Rea, James Boswell’s illustrations for Left Review and Felicity Ashbee’s posters. The latter’s emotive portrayals of desperate war victims combine accessible figurative drawing with expressionist exaggeration such as enlarged pleading eyes and skeletal hands. The London County Council provided 22 large hoardings which AIA artists painted in public, so raising media and public awareness for Aid for Spain as they worked.

Other artists conveyed their beliefs through traditional means. Henry Rayner’s powerful print There is No Shelter chillingly reveals the mercilessness of aerial bombing. Of the several figures huddling for safety under a giant umbrella, the one holding it up turns out to be death personified as a skeleton.

Branson’s socialist-realist paintings stemmed from his communist desire to reach a wide audience. His Demonstration in Battersea (1939) celebrates collective action as demonstrators set off with communist and republican flags and banners amid the working-class district’s terrace housing, gasworks and factories.

Some British surrealists also opposed fascism and contributed imaginative masks and costumes to the 1938 May Day procession. Finding and exhibiting two of these props is a real scoop. Yet the meanings of most of their works — such as Stanley Hayter’s — are so elliptical or ambiguous that it is not clear that they refer to Spain, nor indeed even to antimilitarism.

The enervated forms and distorted figures in his Paysage Anthropophage (1937) could equally refer to personal or psychological anguish or to conflicts between unspecified humans or animals. In the 1930, when academic art still dominated, their adherence to abstracted or imaginary motifs were largely incompressible to most people.

Picasso also used modernist distortions in his Guernica canvas of 1937 but the motifs, such as the distraught woman running while carrying her dead child, and the bull as symbol of Spain make the painting’s meaning clear. It toured Britain with related works to raise funds for Spanish Relief in 1938, when it made a massive impression on British artists.

That exhibition’s catalogue is on show, along with Picasso’s Crying Woman and his satirical print The Dream of Franco alongside British works influenced by Guernica, such as FE McWilliam’s Spanish Head, with its anguished gaping mouth and carnivorous teeth.

Also displayed is the recent recreating of Guernica as a large banner in Pallant House. It was stitched by a collective including political refugees, anti-fascists and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to express the continuing need to protest against war and political oppression.

Together with its catalogue, this informative and well-researched exhibition of art, documentation and rare memorabilia makes a valuable contribution to knowledge about 1930s British politically aware art.

It rather overemphasises surrealists and modernists but it refrains from taking the all-too-common patronising attitude to artists with communist and socialist convictions.

It will hopefully galvanise a new generation to create politically committed art.

Conscience and Conflict: British Artists and the Spanish civil war runs at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until February 2015. Free. Details: www.pallant.org.uk

‘British spies in child abuse cover-up’


This video from Britain is called Peter Watt and Simon Danczuk on Westminster child abuse inquiry.

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

Media ‘gagged over bid to report MP child sex cases

Security services accused of aiding Westminster paedophilia cover-up

Daniel Boffey, policy editor

Saturday 22 November 2014 11.33 GMT

The security services are facing questions over the cover-up of a Westminster paedophile ring as it emerged that files relating to official requests for media blackouts in the early 1980s were destroyed.

Two newspaper executives have told the Observer that their publications were issued with D-notices – warnings not to publish intelligence that might damage national security – when they sought to report on allegations of a powerful group of men engaging in child sex abuse in 1984. One executive said he had been accosted in his office by 15 uniformed and two non-uniformed police over a dossier on Westminster paedophiles passed to him by the former Labour cabinet minister Barbara Castle.

The other said that his newspaper had received a D-notice when a reporter sought to write about a police investigation into Elm Guest House, in southwest London, where a group of high-profile paedophiles was said to have operated and may have killed a child. Now it has emerged that these claims are impossible to verify or discount because the D-notice archives for that period “are not complete”.

Officials running the D-notice system, which works closely with MI5 and MI6 and the Ministry of Defence, said that files “going back beyond 20 years are not complete because files are reviewed and correspondence of a routine nature with no historical significance destroyed”.

Theresa May, home secretary, this month told the Commons that an official review into whether there had been a cover-up of the Home Office’s handling of child-abuse allegations in the 1980s had returned a verdict of “not proven”. The review, by Peter Wanless, the chief executive of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, was prompted by the discovery that 114 Home Office files related to child abuse in the 1980s had gone missing.

On Saturday night the Labour MP for Rochdale, Simon Danczuk, whose book Smile for the Camera exposed the child sex abuse of the late Liberal MP Cyril Smith, said it was a matter of deep concern that D-notice correspondence had also disappeared, presumed destroyed. D-notices to media outlets are rare, with just five sent in 2009 and 10 in 2010, according to a freedom of information response from Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Vallance, secretary of the defence, press and broadcasting advisory committee, which oversees the system.

Danczuk said: “There are clearly questions to be answered as to why these documents were destroyed. They issue very few of them – where was the need to destroy correspondence?

“It feels like just another example of key documents from that period going missing. We need to know more about what has happened. The journalists who have said that D-notices were issued are respected people with no reason to lie.”

The two journalists, Don Hale, the former editor of the Bury Messenger, and Hilton Tims, news editor of the Surrey Comet between 1980 and 1988, both recall their publications being issued with D-notices around 1984. Tims, a veteran of the Daily Mail and BBC, where he was head of publicity for the launch of colour TV, said that his chief reporter had informed him that a D-notice had been issued to him after he tried to report on a police investigation into events at Elm Guest House, where Smith is said to have been a regular visitor.

Tims, 82, said: “One of the reporters on routine calls to the police learned that there was something going down at the guest house in Barnes. It was paedophilia, although that wasn’t the fashionable phrase at the time, it was ‘knocking up young boys’, or something like that.

“The reporter was told that there were a number of high-profile people involved and they were getting boys from a care home in the Richmond area. So I put someone on to it, the chief reporter I think, to make inquiries. It was the following day that we had a D-notice slapped on us; the reporter came over and told me. It was the only time in my career.”

Hale, who was awarded an OBE for his successful campaign to overturn the murder conviction of Stephen Downing, a victim of one of the longest-known miscarriages of justice, said he was issued with a D-notice when editor of the Bury Messenger. He had been given a file by Castle, by then an MEP, which had details of a Home Office investigation into allegations made by the Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens of the existence of a Westminster paedophile ring. The files contained the name of 16 MPs said to be involved and another 40 who were supportive of the goals of the Paedophile Information Exchange, which sought to reduce the age of consent.

Hale said he asked the Home Office for guidance on the dossier and the progress of the investigation but was stonewalled.

Hale said: “Then shortly after Cyril Smith bullied his way into my office. I thought he was going to punch me. He was sweating and aggressive and wanted to take the files away, saying it was a load of nonsense and that Barbara Castle just had a bee in her bonnet about homosexuals. I refused to give him the files.

“The very next day two non-uniformed officers, about 15 uniformed officers and another non-uniformed person, who didn’t introduce himself, came to the office waving a D-notice and said that I would be damaging national security if I reported on the file.”

BBC journalist hobnobbing with Britain First deputy fuehrer


Pictures from Japanese neo-Nazi Kazunari Yamada’s website show him posing with Shinzo Abe’s internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, and his party’s policy chief, Tomomi Inada. Photograph: Guardian

First, there were the Japanese Rightist government ministers posing for a photo-op with the fuehrer of the Japanese neo-nazi party, smiling happily.

UKIP ACTIVISTS POSE WITH BRITAIN FIRST CANDIDATE JAYDA FRANSEN

Then came the UKIP activists, posing for a photo-op with the deputy fuehrer of the Britain First neo-nazi party, smiling happily.

Britain First's deputy fuehrer and Nick Robinson

Now, a Right wing BBC journalist, posing for a photo-op with the same deputy fuehrer; again, smiling happily.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Robinson under fire for Britain First snap

Media: BBC reporter Nick Robinson came under fire yesterday after being snapped with Britain First’s deputy leader.

The political editor faced an angry backlash after he posed with Jayda Fransen, the far-right group’s candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election, during the count.

Mr Robinson, who once grabbed an anti-war placard [and] stamped on it during a live broadcast, apologised — claiming he agreed to the snap without knowing who she was.

This video is about Nick Robinson, so angry that so many people opposed the Iraq war, that he vandalized an anti-war placard.