Teacher Verzio
Teacher Verzio

Past Continuous: Remembering World War II
December 2-3, 2005

Presentations and discussions are in Hungarian without translation!

Friday, December 2, 2005
OSA Archives, Goldberger Building | Budapest V. Arany János u. 32.

István Rév (Historian, Professor at Central European University; OSA Archívum, director)
Nazi propaganda films

The Eternal Jew (Der Ewige Jude, Fritz Hippler, Germany, 1940, in German with English voice-over, 62 min)
One of the most notorious of the Nazi propaganda films. Produced under the close supervision of Joseph Goebbels, it depicts the Jews of Poland as a less-than-human species, living like rats and endangering racial "purity" while also controlling world commerce. Offensive in every regard, the film's hateful lies may seem obvious to day, but this movie remains a terrifying record of how widely they became accepted.

András Mink (Chief Editor of Beszélő; researcher, OSA Archívum)
Holocaust Denial

Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (Errol Morris, USA, 1999, 91 min)
A story of life and career of Fred Leuchter, an engineer who became an expert in execution devices. Leutcher supports the death penalty, but believes that the government has an obligation to be respectful and delicate when taking a life. Leuchter introduces us to his chair: it is designed to get the job done quickly and effectively. Leutcher begins building these chairs for many different states in the US. He wins respect, and is considered by some to be a humanitarian. He is later hired by revisionist historian Ernst Zundel to 'prove' that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz. Leuchter published a controversial report confirming Zundel's position, which ultimately ruined his own career. The film includes the footage of Leuchter, as well as interviews with historians, associates, and neighbors.

Balázs Varga (Film Historian, Hungarian National Film Archive)
Holocaust in the documentary films of the Kadar times

Package-Tour (Társasutazás, Gyula Gazdag, Hungary, 1984, 75 min)
This documentary follows a group of former prisoners as they travel to Auschwitz. The visit to the camp brings back their memories of the war and detention, the destinies of those who perished and those who survived. The scenes of the journey are intercut with an interview with a woman who stayed at home, suffering from a recurrent illness contracted in the camp. She speaks in tranquil recollection about the death queues where matters of life and death were decided with horrifying arbitrariness.

Krisztián Ungváry (Historian, 1956 Institute)
Goebbels and propaganda

The Goebbels Experiment (Das Goebbels-Experiment, Lutz Hachmeister, Germany, 2004, 107 min)
The name Goebbels stands for unbridled, cynical and - at least partially - successful propaganda. It's a convenient label, regularly used to brand politicians as evil rabble-rousers and polemicists. But Joseph Goebbels' life was more enigmatic and unsettling than his current classification as propaganda genius or 'inveterate liar of the Third Reich' would suggest, and here we see how Goebbels constantly stage-managed his life and reinvented himself, from his beginnings as a 'National Socialist' to his suicide with his wife and children. Unusually, for a documentary, it abstains from the use of commentary - the diary that Goebbels kept from 1924 to 1945 is the only 'voice' in the film. In particular, the film succeeds in conveying the gestures and facial expressions of this manic-depressive man, creating the picture of a modern media manager who devoted his workaholic personality to the whole spectrum of communication - only to fail so completely in political and moral terms.

Saturday, December 3, 2005
Örökmozgó Film Theatre | Budapest VII. Erzsébet krt. 39.

Gábor Kádár (Historian, Holocaust researcher)
Concentration camps and their images

Memory of the Camps (Sidney Bernstein, UK, 1945, 58 min)
Memory of the Camps was the title allocated by the Imperial War Museum to a documentary on the liberation of the German concentration camps. It was assembled in London during 1945, as a joint Allied project, but never released. After the Americans withdrew from the project, it became the sole responsibility of the Ministry of Information. Alfred Hitchcock had been named director, and a second treatment was provided by Richard Crossman, who had visited Belsen. Five of the film's presumed six reels were transferred from the War Office film vaults to the Museum Film Archive in 1952. The current narration was recorded in 1985. The shocking footage of the film is followed by a line of the commentary which says that the film-makers hope the audience may "absorb what it is hoped will be a dreadful lesson".

Tamás Meszerics (Historian, Professor at Central European University)
Image of the "West" after the Worlds War II

Asylrecht. Report on the Refugee Situation in January 1949 (Rudolf W. Kipp, Germany, 1949, 37 min)
The film shows the situation of the refugees and asylum seekers in the British Sector, where many tried to escape from the Soviet zone. In the first part of the film we see numerous refugees crossing the border, then the 'green border' between the zones, as well as guards on both side and a bus carrying refugees. Later the camps in Schleswig-Holstein, Niedersachsen and Nordrhein-Westfalen are shown. The final long episode demonstrates the interviewing and the 'admission to the West' procedures in Lager Uelzen, where the 'sorting' of the refugees takes place. We see how different individual cases are treated: rejected refugees face a choice between staying illegally in the British zone and returning to the Soviet zone. The same material was later reedited in the spirit of the Cold War, and all the disturbing 'selection' scenes were taken out.

János Tischler (Historian, 1956 Institute)
Early Popular Democracies through the 'Western eyes'

The First Years (De Eerste jaren, Joris Ivens, 1949, The Netherlands, 99 min)
Inspired by the high hopes raised by the end of World War II, the committed left-wing director welcomed the emergence of the socialist states in Eastern Europe. Originally the film was to consist of four episodes on the new democracies in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Poland. But after Tito quarreled with the Soviet authorities, the section about Yugoslavia was dropped. In the Bulgarian part irrigation projects make the people less dependent on rain. The Czech part tells us about Jan Hus and Czech nationalism, and the installation of a new social and economic order after the war. In the Polish episode we follow a woman who leaves devastated Warsaw to build a new existence in the west of Poland, working in a steel factory. All three episodes breathe the optimism of the socialist promise, and sketch the road of transformation from a pre-war capitalist country into a new socialist democracy.

For further information please contact
Nagy Ilona, program coordinator
(36-1) 327 3250
(36-20) 66 93 248