Some of the horrors of World War II are brought to the screen in newsreel footage, part of the Army-Navy Screen Magazine. Titled “German Atrocities,” the black-and-white footage was collected during the war and released circa 1945. An opening title card at mark 00:21 explains that “Allied troops, advancing deep inside crumbling Germany, have uncovered evidence of organized German atrocities which seem almost too horrible to be true. Yet they are true … and here is the picture record of the German factories of death.” From there, the oven door at the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany, opens at mark 00:45 to reveal skeletal remains inside, left by retreating German forces. Lifeless, emaciated bodies of prisoners lay on the ground as the camera pans over them and instruments of torture and murder, such as a mallet, are shown at mark 01:07. Jews — young and old — try to smile for the camera as the narrator explains how they endured months or years or unspeakable acts. German soldiers and residents are shown being tours of the camps, forced to see what took place inside, as the narrator explains at mark 02:03 that “on the German people rests the responsibility, and these Germans are made to see the evidence of their country’s crime.”
Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton, and Omar Bradley are shown touring the Ohrdruf concentration camp at mark 02:39, their faces grim. (The camp was liberated in April 1945, the first to be liberated by Allied forces). Tales of the beatings and hangings of prisoners too sick to work follow as Ike solemnly walks past piles of bodies found in the camp. Heart-wrenching scenes of hundreds of bodies being exhumed are shown, while at mark 04:40 US Army medics are shown at a field hospital giving what aid they can “to the living dead.” At mark 06:00, German civilians are shown being marched to Nordhausen concentration camp to help bury the dead, as the narrator again says that the German people who accepted Nazi propaganda must now bear the responsibility.
A card at mark 06:37 explains that what will follow are a series of Nazi propaganda films created to promote the Hitler Youth Movement, and the viewer is introduced to journalist and author William L. Shirer (who wrote “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” — a history of Nazi Germany). Shirer explains that the young people of Germany “would not betray the sacred trust … of their Fuhrer,” as scenes of marching Nazi youth flash across the screen. Nazi General Heinz Guderian, noted for his success as a leader of Panzer units in Poland and France and for partial success in the Soviet Union, is shown greeting some of the Nazi youth and soldiers at mark 13:11 as Shirer says part of the job of German generals was to encourage young men to follow in his footsteps.
Mark 16:48 brings the viewer closer to the end and a segment titled “Unfinished Business,” which discusses the 1945 Potsdam Conference with US President Harry S Truman, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, all of whom are shown as the narrator discusses the Big 3’s plan for a “conquered Germany” including the dearming and demilitarization of Germany. “The German sword is being beaten into plowshares,” says the narrator at mark 20:18. And although Nazi laws were eliminated, those primarily responsible were being held accountable at the Nuremberg trials, a series of military tribunals, held by the Allied forces from November 1945 to October 1946, and shown beginning at mark 21:48. “We cannot forget that the smiling faces of young and old hid the greatest crimes in history,” he narrator says as the film comes to an end.
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com