Adolf Hitler, Steven Spielberg, Phil Gries, Quentin Reynolds, Dr. Gisela Perl, Sonia Weissman, Janus T., Alain Resnais, Leo Weissman
A one hour special report. Jewish survivors of Nazi atrocities and concentration camp horrors relate their past experiences.
Quentin Reynolds is the host and narrator.
"Nothing will remain of the Jewish question but a cemetery," predicted a Nazi official when Hitler's program to eliminate the Jews bean in earnest in 1938. Many hundreds of cemeteries were filled before Allied victory halted the Nazi machine in 1945. " REMEMBER US" tells the story of the millions of European Jews who died in prison camps and ghettos during this period, and of those who survived.
Past footage from Documentary films and the accounts of survivors are used to piece together a scenario of life and death as Typhus and starvation stalked the prisoners in the concentration camps, including Dachau, Breendonk, Auschwitz, and Buchenwald, and the ghettos of Europe. Survivors describe the resistance which met the Nazi decision to destroy the Warsaw ghetto in 1943, lengthy trips by cattle-car to extermination camps, capricious selection of gas chamber victims and the endless variety of tortures devised to bring about Hitler's "final solution to the Jewish question."
Broadcast on TV on July 18, 1960 the "Remember Us" documentary which includes fragments from Alain Resnais' classic 32 minute documentary "Night and Fog" (1956), opens with Dr. Gisela Perl, a survivor of the Holocaust...a Romanian Jewish Gynecologist deported to Auschwitz in 1944 where she attended hundreds of women as an inmate gynecologist without the bare necessities to perform her work, delegated by Josef Mengele. She relates her ordeal and the ordeal of others. Dr. Pearl is best known for her published book in 1948, "I Was A Doctor in Auschwitz." Other interviews are spoken by Sonia Weissman (the donor's wife and a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto), Janus T (a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising), and Mr. Friedman (a survivor of Treblinka). The film goes on to use various well-known pieces of footage that exists in the USHMM film and video collection, such as German newsreel footage, Nuremberg War Crimes Trials as well as other war crimes trials, Mogilev gas van footage, etc. The film also incorporates well-known still photographs. There are images (and montages) of equipment used for medical experimentation, for example, a gynecological examination chair. At the conclusion of the film, narrator Quentin Reynolds warns that the Holocaust must be remembered least it be repeated. He then goes on to use the example of apartheid in South Africa as a [contemporary] parallel.
This extraordinary documentary which aired only one time and repeated in the early morning hours, has been forgotten by the general public for 60 years. It is not available anywhere with the exception of an archived 16mm print donated as a gift by Leo Weissman to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1999.
A Variety Review described the film this way.
"In the annals of TV there probably hasn't been a more gruesome documentary than 'Remember Us,' an hour-length
depiction of the Nazi horror which ravaged 9 ,000,000 lives and left an open sore on humanity's conscience. No better telling has caught the diabolic character of the Nazi regime than 'Remember Us,' a title which echoes and re-echoes when matched against the past and present. It is not easy to view and listen; a terrible reminder for an unsettled world."
NOTE: It is interesting that 34 years later Steven Spielberg would initiate a six year world wide filming coordination, producing "Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation Project," begun in 1994 with the objective to film/video tape and preserve first-person survivor testimonies and encourage their use in education.
In 1985, Phil Gries, founder and owner of Archival Television Audio, Inc. filmed a series of interviews with filmmaker Cluade Lanzmann which were televised each night for four consecutive nights after an installment of Lanzmann's nine and a half hour epic documentary SHOAH, broadcast on PBS in its entirety. Nine years later, in December of 1994, Gries worked on the documentary "Bringing The Holocaust Home," for the BBC. For many days Gries filmed inside the new United States Holocaust Museum, in Washington DC, which was closed to the public during filming sequences within the museum. This landmark institution opened its doors for the first time to the public the previous year (March 22, 1993). Half - a- year later Phil Gries was hired to film 15 interviews (July-September, 1995)...65 hours of footage with holocaust survivors for the Spielberg Survivors of the Shoah project at the inception of Spielberg's visionary undertaking. Most of the sit down interviews, conducted by social workers, averaged two hours long. Some of them lasted four hours long. It was ALWAYS an emotional experience for subject and all others involved in the filming.
Today, twenty five years later,112,000 thousand hours (52,000 separate interviews) of interviews have been conducted around the world and are preserved in The Visual History Archive. The material is digitized, and fully searchable via indexed keywords, and hyperlinked to the minute at the USC SHOAH FOUNDATION in Southern California.
REMEMBER US (1960), in many respects one of the first of such documentary retrospectives of the horrors of the Holocaust, remains a most hard hitting and compelling reminder and retelling of the horrors of Adolf Hitler's "solution to the Jewish question."
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