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Propaganda filming of the Warsaw Ghetto: prison; street; corpses; burial

Film | Accession Number: 1999.328.1 | RG Number: RG-60.2115 | Film ID: 2257

***This footage is from a roughly ninety-minute propaganda film that was never finished or shown publicly. It was created by a German propaganda camera team in the spring of 1942.The Nazi regime created these ghettos and imprisoned Jews within them, subjected them to these conditions of starvation and disease and overcrowding. And yet, with a film like this, they hoped to suggest that these conditions were chosen by the Jews, that they were natural Jewish living conditions. This film is considered propaganda because it is heavily staged, omits selective information, attempts to establish grotesque stereotypes, and exaggerates many elements of reality. This German propaganda film ended up on the shelf, never finished, never shown, never given a sound track that we know of. It seems that the development of the war and of the genocidal acts in 1942 probably made this irrelevant as propaganda. Mass deportations of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto began soon after filming was completed.***

Detailed Description: Film leader marking: "Achtung! Geheime Kommandosache!" CU women in prison yard. Women with closely cropped hair, CU. Boys inside prison, in cell, strongly lit for cameras. One boy struggles forward. CU, emaciated boy. Reverse angle shot of boys driven through prison doorway, towards light and the street. Jewish policeman with stick, hitting them as they emerge. One of the last runs out, wearing no shirt. In the prison yard, CU of very thin man with no shirt, shivering and twitching. CU of women lying on floor of prison cell. Young men lying in cell. One with badly rotted teeth, talking. Women in cell, strongly lit for filming. Pan to left, women sitting, posed for camera; emaciated. CUs. CU, two boys. Chalk board for 'Arrestanstalt' statistics on prisoners held: Convicted, Under Investigation, Adults, 17 and Under, etc. Date: 2. V. 1942 [2 May 1942]. Pan to cell bars; boys are sent running out of cell. Armband: "Judenrat Warschau ORDNUNGSDIENST" [Order Police]. CU, individual men against wall. Starving boy with prominent teeth. CU profile, young man with large nose; slowly turns head for camera. CU boy with protruding ears. More. Starving, wizened boy.

01:25:13 People pass body on sidewalk; numerous passersby walk along, apparently as directed for camera. Two men approach with long narrow black coffin on two-wheeled cart. As they turn cart around in street, two men walk R to L in street behind: one civilian, one uniformed German soldier (01:25:46). Men lift body. 01:26:22 Cameraman just visible over far end of cart for bodies. Wheeling cart along crowded street, people, stalls. Many look to camera, smile. Wooden stalls or huts in BG. Two bodies on pavement, people passing by. Men come with slatted cart, Warsaw ghetto wall to right, cobblestones prominent in scene. Boy helping with bodies on cart. One body slips into wet gutter, boy tries to assist. Gate and men with carts approach shed with bodies. Morgue-like structure, apparently at edge of cemetery area. Hauling bodies, cart FG and cart BG right. View of bodies stacked in shed, tagged; men tossing them. Most are naked. Close pan of bodies, women, children, legs. Camera holds on pubic area of female corpse. Bodies moved onto cart for transport to cemetery. Another cart is loaded. Bearded men stand and watch, as if assigned role as official "mourners." Carts pass through gateway towards open land, presumably cemetery. Procession of men and carts to large communal graves, mounds of dirt. Line of trees in BG. Bodies are slid down a narrow chute to open mass grave, where two men handle the bodies to lay them out, straighten them. 01:32:52 Quick view of a cameraman in pit with corpses, lower right of frame, climbs up. Fast, harsh, corpses sent down chute. All ages, all emaciated. Layers of paper and some dirt are placed over bodies by two men in the pit. Bearded Orthodox men stand at top of pit. As dirt is shoveled into mass grave, they move away, past mounds of dirt.

Film Title
Event:  1942 May
Production:  1942
Warsaw, Poland
Accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Library of Congress
Record last modified: 2021-06-03 12:43:07
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