As time dims our memory of WW2, there is one event that should be revived as much as humanly possible, that being the German concentration camps, Bergen-Belsen in particular. Not that Belsen was the worst, but because it was the only concentration camp liberated with all guards and commandant in place. But most significant of all was that the liberation was recorded by British army cameramen and war artists, one being the Australian Alan Moore - images that shocked the world. The horrific footage produced gives the viewer only a fragment of what took place in other camps and is definitely the worst taken in the 20th Century. This film commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Belsen liberation, its origins, the unprecedented humanitarian effort to save as many lives as possible and Australian involvement in it. The images of Bergen-Belsen are living proof that the Holocaust did happen and prompts the question, how did this happen?
A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing
Since Holocaust denial has grown since WW2, this film is to reassert the intended consequences of Hitler’s Third Reich. Because the Germans destroyed most documentation that did exist of the mass murder of Jewish people, the imagery and reporting of the liberation of Belsen concentration camp at war’s end proved to the world beyond doubt, that the Holocaust was a reality - and the input by Australians in recording it was significant.
What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?
There was possibly no footage taken in the 20th century that had more impact than the images of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. As world Jewish communities commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust, this film will tour the world as a visual reminder of their suffering - and most importantly to educate the general public that this is what hate and racism achieves. The message: this should never happen again.
What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?
Short-term outcomes are educating the film’s target audiences and the general public, especially teachers, students and business leaders, that the liberation of the Belsen concentration camp at the end of WW2 came about by pure chance. The result of the Nazi secret campaign against the European Jewish population and other perceived dissidents. But it was the Australian war correspondent, Alan Moorehead, one of many other journalists that were taken on a tour of the Belsen camp after liberation, who asked the question, “Why?” adding, “How did we let it happen?” Afterwards, this literary giant mused his thoughts on “Why?” in his book “Eclipse” about the last two years of WW2.
Mid-term outcomes is to encourage debate on Moorehead’s analysis from both the target audience and the general public but with a special emphasis on student response.
Long-term outcomes is to promote a campaign to question Australian students and the world populace if any lessons were learnt from Belsen!
How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?
Because the images contained in the film are sure to evoke an immediate emotional response, after each screening, a staffer will ask the audience a small number of questions about their understanding of the film or responses to elements of it by a show of hands. The percentages of which will be tabulated in a data readout and then shared publically. What happened 75years ago is important to the modern era, because it delivers in stark terms the results of hate and racism and Moorehead, a witness to these atrocities, tries to explain how this all came about. Besides questionnaires being handed out at film screenings for anyone moved enough to fill them out, educational guides will be circulated to schools prior to student screenings. Community screenings will tie in with targeted organisations, all promoted by a social media strategy.
How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?
Since the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Belsen concentration camp coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Holocaust, itself commemorated globally by Jewish communities, Jewish organisations in Australia and the rest of the world will be targeted for screenings of our film. Lobbying will be done via Jewish newspapers, organisations and schools. Film to tie in with Belsen 75 campaign in the UK and Liberation 75 in Canada plus Jewish historian, Mark Celinscak to help lobby film with the Association for Jewish Studies in the US which operates out of 60 Universities across the country.
Audience Engagement and Social Impact
What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?
1. After each screening a question by a production staffer would be to ask if each viewer would recommend the film on their personal social media sites. A show of hands is what action the production team wants.
2. After each screening, questionnaires to be handed out asking if the film urges viewers to inform family, friends or colleagues what they learnt from the film and if anyone is moved enough to add to that action by arranging a screening in their community. Also random members of the audience will be asked for their response to the film on camera. Clips cut from these sessions will be used to further promote film on social media sites.
3. After school screenings, students will be asked if they would write a critique or essay on their response on watching the film and what they learnt from it. This can be in the form of a competition, where the winning school can select a group of students to visit the Belsen Memorial Park, working in with airline and hotel support.
Measurement and Evaluation
What is the projects indicators for success?
The film’s prime objective is to educate film audiences that the horror they just witnessed was what the liberators of Bergen-Belsen unsuspectingly witnessed in April 1945 -and the ensuing media scrum recorded. One of which, an Australian war correspondent, went further when he tried to explain how this catastrophe came about when he asked himself, “How did we let this happen?” By audiences just giving a show of hands after each screening to questions of their understanding of film will be proof of its success or not. This data will be accumulated and made public. Audience participation from word of mouth on social media sites will be gauged and added to a seperate graph - this would include extra community screenings initiated by enlightened viewers. Response from Jewish organisations and schools will also be tabulated. The main indication of success is finding out how many of the viewing audience understood what Belsen represented, how it eventuated and what they learnt from it.