“How can we get an idea of what happened here?” This is the central question of the new documentary “The Dachau Concentration Camp”. After 50 years there is now a new film that visitors to the concentration camp memorial can watch in the cinema. It replaces the documentation from 1969. Around 150 visitors tried to find answers to the question during the film presentation in the open air in Lagerstraße on the site of the concentration camp memorial.
Dachau - Secret photographs taken by prisoners at risk of death.
Drawings by prisoners depicting the cruel everyday life in the camp.
Objects and documents handed down from prisoners who try to make history understandable.
Recordings of hunger, illness and mistreatment of severely damaged survivors and dead prisoners, taken by the American liberators of the concentration camp.
And above all contemporary witnesses who make a deep impression with their emotional reports.
A voice from the off connects all these elements, classifies them critically and tells the story of the concentration camp.
The filmmakers Maya Schweizer, Benjamin Meyer-Krahmer and Clemens Wedemeyer approached the events from different perspectives.
Podium after the film screening
In a panel discussion after the film screening, they stood with Dr.
Gabriele Hammermann, director of the concentration camp memorial, and Dr.
Stefanie Pilzweger-Steiner, scientific advisor at the memorial, is available for questions.
The film maintains a "respectful treatment of people on the border between life and death," said Hammermann.
It presented some of the difficulties with which the filmmakers were confronted: "How can a film be made that is of interest to everyone?" Visit the concentration camp memorial for school lessons ”, but also individual visitors, especially from all of the English-speaking countries.
Another element: "This film shouldn't be overwhelming," said Hammermann.
No music can be heard.
“Music changes images, and we wanted to work out the emotionality from the abundance of details,” says Clemens von Wedemeyer.
In addition, the pictures themselves are terribly difficult to bear, "we were sure that we didn't need any music," says Benjamin Meyer-Krahmer.
Maya Schweizer emphasized the "moments of silence", which are very good and important between text and image levels as well as many explanations.
Visitors ask a lot of questions
One visitor to the film premiere had the impression that “material that was too violent and hard” had been left out. "Why can't a film like this be emotional?" He asked. Meyer-Krahmer countered this impression. Not that material was left out. The aim was to find out "how to contextualize the material". The dead prisoners are not shown as anonymized bodies, but rather arranged in a temporal context by the speaker. It also shows how American soldiers discovered the death train from the Buchenwald concentration camp full of corpses, as well as photos of Dachauers who were forced to look at the dead in the morgue of the crematorium. “We follow the chronology and show these images right at the beginning,” says Meyer-Krahmer. Basically one did not want to force the emotionality,but show everyday scenes. Stefanie Pilzweger-Steiner added that “we are beyond the approach of showing such pictures only to shock”.
“Why does the herb garden not appear?” Was a question from one of the premiere visitors. Wedemeyer explained that “we didn't go into everything, it's an overview film”. Hammermann made it understandable that the introduction of the herb garden would have required complex explanations - at the expense of other topics. And ultimately you need the possibility that after watching the film - in which the process of exploration, but also the limits of what is comprehensible is described - many questions reverberate.