Documents – Memories – HistoriographyThe Second “Theresienstadtfilm”, its Documentation and Reconstruction from the Survivors’ Perspective.

By Bedřich Fritta, via Wikimedia Commons

The project aims to analyze the only fragments that are restored of the Nazi propaganda film revolving around the Theresienstadt concentration camp. The film, produced in 1944, is a document of both the persecution and murder of European Jews during the Second World War and the brutal realization of the Holocaust within the institutional, political and ideological structures of the time.

The significance and function of this film, which staged a concentration camp as a social idyll and
peaceful town, has been historically clarified only in individual aspects: This movie seems to have been addressed as well to the Jewish population in the former ‘German Reich’ (and thus to poten-tial victims), as to the International Red Cross and other international governmental or non- gov-ernmental European actors.

It could also have been possible that the film was produced for training purposes of the SS. Within the research project, the present film fragments need to be evaluated historically, sociologically and with the help of media studies. Furthermore the findings will be stored for future research plans. For this purpose, the fragments will be merged in the general framework of film interpreta-tion and reconstructed and analyzed in their sequential order. The next step will be a comparison of the fragment with other similar film documents. In addition, on the basis of qualitative interviews, we shall ask 20 survivors of the concentration camp to comment on the fragments of the film and to compare it to their own memories. The interviews will be recorded audiovisually and incorpo-rated into a cinematic overall presentation that contrasts historical film sequences and interview sections.
All in all, the project aims to contribute to the reconstruction of the history of the Theresienstadt- Concentration-Camp, to the sociology of medial representation, and – in general – to classify the “Theresienstadtfilm” within the framework of a comprehensive historical Holocaust analysis.