From Newsreel to Posttraumatic films – Classic Documentaries about Auschwitz-Birkenau – a lecture by Tomasz Lysak, PhD

After WWII there was a significant shift in the visual principles of rendering the operations of the Nazi camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, its history and its moral significance. Soviet and Polish filmmakers established the cinematographic conventions of Holocaust documentaries which contributed to the conceptualization of concentration camps and industrial genocide as modernist events. The films in question span the period between the liberation of Auschwitz and the 1960s, and include liberation footage recorded by the Red Army and the Polish Film Chronicle, Alain Resnais’s Night and Fog (1955), Andrzej Brzozowski’s Archeology (1967), and Tadeusz Jaworski’s I was a Kapo (1963). This selection sheds light on the aesthetic choices and film genres: newsreel, posttraumatic film, scientific film, and first person testimony.