The BBC is to show three new documentaries this month to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January.
In How the Holocaust Began on BBC Two and iPlayer, historian James Bulgin uncovers the lost origins of the Holocaust following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, exploring the mass shootings, collaboration and experimentation that led to the Final Solution.
The three part series for BBC Four and iPlayer, The US and the Holocaust, directed by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein, examines how the American people and their leaders responded to one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of the twentieth century.
With narration from Helena Bonham Carter, the Storyville film, Three Minutes: A Lengthening on BBC Four and iPlayer unravels the stories hidden in three minutes of footage, all that remains of the Jewish community of Nasielsk, Poland, filmed in 1938 by photographer David Kurtz.
Kate Phillips, Director of Unscripted, says: “Holocaust Memorial Day is an important moment to stop and reflect on a period in our history which showed both the worst, and the best, of the human spirit. By showing these documentaries, we hope to shine a light on history’s darkest days and ensure that the stories of those whose lives were lost in the Holocaust are never forgotten.”
The documentaries are
How the Holocaust Began
Say the word ‘Holocaust’ and for most of us, the image that comes to mind is of death camps like Auschwitz; the enduring symbols of a highly organised machine of industrialised genocide. But few of us realise that the death camps were just the final act of the Holocaust. This film tells the story of what went before.
It is the story of the first defining act of the greatest crime in history, a holocaust of bullets that preceded the holocaust of gas. Millions of victims – men, women and children – were shot and buried in thousands of trenches and ditches in fields and forests across eastern Europe; often unrecorded and uncounted.
Uncovering this story is historian James Bulgin. James created the Holocaust galleries at the Imperial War Museum; now he examines a chapter of the Holocaust that has been left largely unexplored for more than 80 years.
James meets image analysts and forensic experts as well as relatives and eye witnesses to piece together what happened to the lost victims of the Holocaust, identifying forgotten graves and revealing the mass shootings, collaboration and experimentation that led to the Final Solution.
How the Holocaust Began (1×60) was commissioned by Simon Young, Head of History, for BBC Two and iPlayer and is produced by Caravan Media. It is written, produced and directed by Nic Young, the executive producer is Dinah Lord, the producer director is Ben Holgate and the film editor is Julie Buckland.
The U.S. and the Holocaust
The U.S. and the Holocaust examines how the American people and their leaders responded to one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of the twentieth century, and how this catastrophe challenged their identity as a nation of immigrants and the very ideals of American democracy.
Episode 1 – The Golden Door (Beginnings – 1938) After decades of open borders, a xenophobic backlash prompts the United States to pass laws restricting immigration. In Germany, Hitler finds support for his anti-Semitic rhetoric, and the Nazis begin their persecution of Jewish people, causing many to flee to neighbouring countries or America. Franklin D Roosevelt and other world leaders are concerned by the growing refugee crisis, but they fail to coordinate a response.
Episode 2 – Yearning to Breathe Free (1938-1942) After Kristallnacht, Germany’s Jews are desperate to escape Hitler’s tyranny. Americans are united in their disapproval of the Nazis’ brutality, but remain divided on whether and even how to act as World War II begins. Charles Lindbergh speaks for isolationists, while FDR tries to support Europe’s democracies. The Nazis invade the Soviet Union, and the Holocaust begins in secret.
Episode 3 – The Homeless, Tempest- Tossed (1942-) The first reports of the killing reach the United States. A group of dedicated government officials establish the War Refugee Board to finance and support rescue operations. As the Allies advance, soldiers uncover mass graves and liberate German concentration camps, revealing the sheer scale and horror of the Holocaust. The danger of its reverberations soon become apparent.
The U.S. and the Holocaust (3×120), a film by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein, is available on BBC iPlayer from Monday 9 January and TXs on BBC Four at 10pm.
Storyville: Three Minutes: A Lengthening
Three minutes of footage is all that remains of the Jewish community of Nasielsk, Poland, filmed in 1938 by photographer David Kurtz. With narration from Helena Bonham Carter, Three Minutes: A Lengthening unravels the stories hidden in the celluloid with insight from the filmmaker’s grandson and a boy who appears in the faded footage – one of few survivors of the village decimated in the Holocaust.
Storyville: Three Minutes: A Lengthening is a 1 x 70 film for BBC Four and iPlayer made by Family Affair Films. The film is directed by Bianca Stiger, written by Bianca Stiger and Glenn Kurtz and narrated by Helena Bonham-Carter. It is co-produced by Steve McQueen. The footage was filmed by David Kurtz and made available courtesy of the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The BBC Commissioning Editor, Storyville is Lucie Kon.
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