Night Will Fall is a powerful documentary about the footage captured by Allied forces of newly liberated concentration camps in the closing days of WW2 that was later made into a film titled German Concentration Camps Factual Survey(1945).
The scenes the soldiers were confronted with were so shocking that they feared no one would believe that they were real. Indeed the first accounts that Soviet soldiers had given of Auschwitz and Majdanek in eastern Europe were written off by Britain and America as atrocity propaganda. They soon realised how wrong they were. In fact, the Soviet footage of Auschwitz contains some of the most infamous images of the monstrous extermination camps. An elderly Soviet soldier interviewed in Night Will Fallis overcome with emotion as he remembers the terrible things he saw.
The army cameramen carefully documented the gruesome reality of the camps and the appalling cruelty that had taken place there. It was decided that the reels would be made into a film about humanity and civilisation and what happens when human beings descend into utter barbarism. The legendary media mogul Sidney Bernstein was contracted to make the film along with acclaimed director Alfred Hitchcock and writer Richard Crossman. They worked with a team of editors and technicians to organise the footage into a well scripted and coherent narrative. It was a harrowing task which surviving editors interviewed in Night Will Fall recall with horror.
In the end, however, the film was never finished. It was stored away in the National Archives, along with Bernstein and Hitchcock’s notes and Crossman’s script. Night Will Fall explores the political reasons for why this happened. The film also contains interviews with historians from the Imperial War Museum in London who began to restore and complete the documentary in 2008 and released it as a film in 2014.
The footage was used during the Nuremberg trials as evidence to convict Nazi war criminals.
It still stands today as an incomparable testament of man’s inhumanity to man.