FIRST FILMS OF THE HOLOCAUST
Wednesday, 4 December 2013 from 18:15 to 20:00 (GMT)
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Most early Western perceptions of the Holocaust were based on newsreels filmed during the Allied liberation
of Germany in 1945. Little, however, was reported of the initial wave of material from Soviet filmmakers,
who were in fact the first to document these horrors. In First Films of the Holocaust, Jeremy Hicks presents a
pioneering study of Soviet contributions to the growing public awareness of the horrors of Nazi rule.
Even before the war, the Soviet film Professor Mamlock, which premiered in the United States in 1938 and
coincided with the Kristallnacht pogrom, helped reinforce anti-Nazi sentiment. Yet, Soviet films were often
dismissed or even banned in the West as Communist propaganda. Ironically, in the brief 1939–1941 period
of Nazi and Soviet alliance, such films were also banned in the Soviet Union, only to be reclaimed after the
Nazi attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, and suppressed yet again during the Cold War.
Jeremy Hicks has recovered much of the major film work in Soviet depictions of the Holocaust and views
them within their political context. Overwhelmingly, wartime films were skewed to depict Soviet resistance,
“Red funerals,” and calls for vengeance, rather than the singling out of Jewish victims by the Nazis. Hicks has
examined correspondence, scripts and reviews, and compares edited with unedited film to unearth the
deliberately hidden Jewish aspects of Soviet depictions of the German invasion and occupation. Additionally,
he details the reasons why Soviet Holocaust films have been subsequently erased from collective memory in
the West and the Soviet Union.
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