I just finished watching a new HBO documentary entitled “Night Will Fall.”
Since I read a write-up of it in The Guardian, I’ve been wanting to see this film – not because I needed a grim reminder about the horrors of the Holocaust, but because I needed a glimpse into the minds and memories of the liberators. I wanted to see what they saw. I wanted to understand and experience their reality as closely as possible when they marched through the idyllic German countryside into what one former Soldier described “the world of a nightmare.”
“Night Will Fall,” directed by André Singer (and making its television premiere on HBO on Monday), tells the story of “Factual Survey,” incorporating archival and current interviews with people involved in its making. It also fills out the story of how the British, American and Soviet cameramen documented the unbelievable scenes that the liberating troops found, and includes touching sequences in which soldiers and camp inmates who appear in the old footage describe their horrific experiences seven decades ago.
And most harrowingly, it incorporates about 12 minutes of the restored “Factual Survey.” Belying its bland, clinical title, the original film, in these excerpts, is a measured but unflinching account, with brutally explicit footage of naked, emaciated corpses lying in stacks, littering fields and being thrown and shoveled into mass graves. Nearly as hard to bear are the scenes (backed by a pointed narration, newly recorded by the actor Jasper Britton) of warehoused eyeglasses, teeth and bales of human hair.
So I sat down and watched this film that explored the horrors of what people did to one another with clinical detachment in the footage of the original “Factual Survey,” juxtaposed with the tears, the raw emotion – even 70 years later – from the Soldiers who documented the horror.
I saw the conquered SS troops being forced to clean up the aftermath of their mass murder. They dragged these emaciated, naked bodies to pits where they were to be buried – by the arms, by the legs, or merely carried like sacks of bone. The Allied troops figured since the SS was responsible for the horror, these ostensibly human men and women should be forced to deal with it.
But they weren’t human. They looked to have felt nothing as they tossed the skeletal remains of the lives they destroyed into pits like so much garbage. They were born and bred to be heartless automatons, who viewed their victims as little more than breathing sacks of meat.
When I was a freshman in college, I had the privilege and honor to sit down with one of the world’s greatest authors – Ray Bradbury. Our discussion centered around being human. I asked him, “What is it you believe makes each one of us human?” His reply remains with me to this day. He told me that being human means not murdering – NOT not killing, mind you, but not murdering. There is a difference. He told me he considered his dog human, because his best friend was kind and would never murder a human being.
These people were not human.
But the Soldiers who filmed these horrors during the spring of 1945 were.
I was reminded of the true role of military journalists and combat cameramen. They tell the military’s story. This is something even the military forgets when they’re painted as spin meisters and told they’re not real troops. They are there, and they are troops, and they see what the troops see…
…and they document it for posterity. Everything. The horror. The absolute repugnance. The abomination that was the German death camps.
And the apathy of the German villagers, who lived near those camps, who profited economically from the slave labor, who should have known what kind of horrors were being perpetuated upon their fellow men in Bergen Belsen, in Dachau, in Auschwitz…
They should have known, but they didn’t want to and didn’t care to. Because to them, these cattle… these Jews… didn’t mean anything. They weren’t human beings. They were barely worth a second thought. Their festering carcasses littered fields, were stacked in mass graves, and the stench of death permeated the air of the German countryside.
And yet, these Germans going about their lives didn’t care.
They were brought into Dachau and other camps after the prisoners were liberated. They were filmed walking lightheartedly into what one former Soldier described as “the most appalling hell possible,” as if they were taking a stroll through a museum, but some got physically sick when they were shown shrunken heads of people who were murdered there, real physical evidence of the horrors and torment that took place inside those gates.
The British, Russian and American Soldiers, still raw in their memories, recalled the starved, wasted, diseased prisoners who greeted them upon their entry. An elderly British cameraman wept openly during his interview, apologizing for his bout of emotion. Russian liberators expressed their horror at what they saw. I was struck – based on what I know of Russian culture and Russian military mindset – by how affected they were by the bags of human ashes, sacks of human hair, teeth, eyeglasses, and other remnants of the thousands upon thousands of human beings who were murdered in those camps. Russian troops are tough. They’re not unfeeling, but they’re certainly hardened and toughened in their attitudes. What they saw – and what we saw through their combat camera lens – broke even their steely shells.
Worse yet, the movie revealed, the Russians discovered these horrors during the summer of 1944, and passed the intelligence to other allies. But the British chose not to trust the Russian intel, since the Russians were infamous for falsifying their reporting.
I didn’t cry during this movie. I sat tense and grim, looking at what people are capable of – what they did to one another – appalled that this film was never released by the Brits because of political considerations…
…because they, among other reasons, recognized that the German people would be critical allies in the nascent Cold War, and didn’t want to demoralize them with yet more guilt – for not knowing, for not caring, for supporting the Nazi monsters. They wanted allies, not dejected, guilt-ridden zombies to help them battle the new Russian threat.
Some of the footage did see the light of day. It was used as evidence in the Nuremberg trials. The original haunting, restored documentary aired in two theaters in the United States.
I hope to be able to see the original – not because I need a reminder about the horrors humans heap upon one another, but as a reason to keep fighting to ensure it never happens again.
I’m at home today, nursing a cough that’s so dry and racking, I’m afraid I may vomit up my diaphragm… or lose bladder control… or something. The screeching histrionics about the so-called “blizzard” that was supposed to hit the east coast culminated with a dusting of light snow in my driveway *EVERYBODY PANIC*, and I was going to head to work until I almost hacked up a lung.
So I’m home.
The first thing that hit my Facebook feed this morning from EVERY. SINGLE. CONSERVATIVE. WEBSITE. was the claim that Bowe Bergdahl (I absolutely refuse to call him SSG, as I am absolutely convinced that he’s not just a deserter, but a traitor who should be hanging from a tree, rather than sitting in a cushy office, being paid a military salary) is about to be charged with desertion.
If true, this would make me happier than a pig in shit. The problem is that EVERY. SINGLE. CONSERVATIVE. WEBSITE. is citing the same source: Retired Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, who currently works for the London Center for Policy Research, who revealed this information to Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, and claimed he received it from two independent military sources.
“The Army has come to its conclusion and Bowe Bergdahl will be charged with desertion,” he told O’Reilly.
“This is shaping up to be a titanic struggle behind the scenes,” he told O’Reilly. “Believe me, the Army here wants to do the right thing … And the White House, because of the political narrative, President Obama cozying up to the parents and because he, President Obama, releasing the five Taliban … The narrative is what the White House does not want to have come out.”
Yes, conservative “news” sites are citing BILL O’FUCKINGREILLY’s interview with a retired O-5, who works for some obscure think tank, citing secondary sources without corroborating evidence.
I think I’ll wait. I don’t know how true LTC (ret.) Shaffer’s claims are. Just like I don’t know whether his claims of DIA mishandling information about the 9-11 attacks are true. I don’t know who his contacts in the military are, or whether they’re credible. I also don’t know what kind of access his contacts have to information. For all I know, they could have overheard gossip in the halls of the Pentagon.
And while I would do a little happy dance if Bergdahl was, in fact, charged, I’ll wait for corroborating information.
You should too. WorldNetDaily is not a credible source.
UPDATE: My friend Cassy found this story from Military Times that quotes Army spokesman Paul Boyce as saying the investigation is not over.
I knew Paul from my PAO days – I doubt he even remembers who I am, as it’s been 10 years, but I also remember him to be a very straightforward, honorable guy, and I’m glad he’s still doing military public affairs.
The Army continues to review the case against Bergdahl, said Paul Boyce, a spokesman for Forces Command, on Tuesday.
But Boyce said there is no charge sheet and that the Fox News story “seems to be speculative in nature.” Bergdahl’s attorney Eugene Fidell declined to comment. NBC News, citing an anonymous senior defense official, is also reporting a desertion charge is coming, possibly within the week.
What is it they always say? Never discuss politics or religion on the first date, right? I generally violate both these rules on a near daily basis on this blog, because, well, it’s my blog, and I can.
I’ve never let anyone who may be easily butthurt alter my course, because, well, it’s my blog.
And I’ve never shied away from calling out every frothing fundamentalist fruitcake of any stripe and stomping on their petty little feelings. That includes froth-flecked atheists who get chafed labia at the very sight of a cross or the sound of a prayer and frenzied fucktards who leave fake tips to spread the message of GAWD to some poor schmuck of a waiter who makes $2.50/hour.
Lately, dealing with house and financial issues, I’ve blogged about little else. Been kind of preoccupied, ya know?
But my buddy Chris knows just what it takes to bring me back on track (frankly, I suspect he simply wants to see my head explode at frothing fundamentalist fruitcake insanity), so he refers me to this – ostensibly satanic symbols on a school bus, or fucking brake lights to those of us who are somewhat grounded in reality.
Robyn Wilkins snapped a photo when she noticed the shape of an upside down, five-pointed star outlined in the brake lights of a school bus that was stopped in Cordova.
“Anyone who fears a God, if not God and Jesus Christ, should be outraged,” Wilkins said.
She says Christians should be outraged that a symbol that looks like a pentagram would be allowed in the design of a vehicle used to transport children to public schools.
I wish this was The Onion, but it’s not. This drooling fuck weasel is actually outraged at this.
See? This is why we can’t have nice things.
Now, most of us normal critters simply look at the brake lights and say, “Oh! The bus is stopping. We should probably do the same.”
The more creative of us will say, “Hey look! Little stars on the brake lights. Cute!”
But screeching fundatards, who have nothing better to do with their time, will immediately fly into a froth-flecked rage over a simple design and claim it’s some kind of a subliminal satanic symbol.
This particular simple-minded crackpot says Christians should be offended that their children are being transported to school in a bus that has Pagan symbols on it! I suppose her twat is also chafed at the fact that the five-pointed star is also a symbol of Christianity associated with the birth Jesus Christ when the wise men followed a star toward Jerusalem in search of the new-born King, and from there to Bethlehem – to the very location where Jesus was born. The original pentagram (sans circle) was used to represent the five wounds of Jesus, the five senses, the five joys that Mary had of Jesus, and the five virtues of knighthood. And the upside-down star appeared on an LDS temple in Illinois. I don’t think anyone can accuse Mormons of not fearing God or Jesus Christ!
It wasn’t even until the 19th century that all of a sudden an occult author and “magician” decided to ascribe evil to the inverted star! So this drooling nimrod is offended by a symbol that wasn’t even considered “evil” until an occult writer grabbed a hold of it and declared it so! Ferpetessake!
In other words, the star, pentagram, or whatever you want to call it has been around for ages, and it amuses me (or disgusts me) to see ignorami glom onto a “definition” created by a “magician,” whom they would normally shun as yet another devil worshiping heathen, in order to drool their outrage.
But most of all, it’s just an innocent design – at least to those of us who aren’t FUCKING CRAZY and looking for something to get offended about!
You want to be outraged? Be outraged about a Christian pastor being imprisoned and beaten in Iran! Be outraged at the Islamic State threatening to kill Christians if they don’t convert! Be outraged at Christian prosecution in Laos. Be outraged at any number of outrages going on in the world against all sorts of people!
This ass-chapping retardery that somehow became a news story over a stupid break light?
Someone needs a hobby.
For those of you who weren’t following my house saga, I’ve decided I’m done. I don’t want to be a property owner any longer. There are lots of reasons for this, and most of them I really don’t want to explore here.
It’s a beautiful house – large, with a ton of closet space, several walk-in closets, a corner lot, etc. If I picked up this house with its land, its wraparound porch, its patio, and its fenced backyard and moved it to where I currently live, I could probably get a million and a half – yes, that’s $1.5 million – for this home. But since it’s located west of DC in the picturesque Shenandoah Valley, it’s going to sell for significantly less.
In other words, it’s a deal.
There are many more photos here, so feel free to take a look.
And if you know anyone who is looking to move to a quiet community that’s a commutable distance from all the cool stuff in Northern Virginia and DC, as well as several military communities, pass this along!