In the spring of 1945, Allied forces liberating Europe took cameras with them into the grim reality of what they were walking into. As the troops entered the German concentration camps, they made a systematic film record of what they saw. Work began on a documentary to show the horror they witnessed to the German population.
Sidney Bernstein, chief of the Psychological Warfare Film Section of SHAEF, commissioned the film. Those involved in the production included Alfred Hitchcock and renowned editor Stewart McAllister. “No German can say he didn’t know,” insists the commentary, co-written by Richard Crossman, the future cabinet minister.
Ultimately, these sentiments were judged by the British Government to be unsuitable to the bridge-building mood towards Germany. The film was never shown.
40 years later, an American researcher found a rusty can marked “F3080” in the vaults of London’s Imperial War Museum. It was in very poor condition and the last roll was missing, but in 1985 a scratched and blurry copy was shown on PBS in America. Now after three years of work by Dr Toby Haggith of the IWM, the entire film has been fully restored and piece by piece, frame by frame, the lost last reel has been put together from the original shot lists. For the first time in history the completed “F3080” is ready to be shown.
André Singer’s documentary Night Will Fall tells the extraordinary story of the making of this film, the people involved, and the reasons why it was never shown.