In a previous post I shared my favorite feature films about World War II but I wanted to share my favorite documentary. World War II always holds students attention and documentaries are not necessary to help bring history alive and make students care about what happened but they are plentiful, often offer a unique perspective or narrative that helps students understand what happened and hopefully how to avoid it, and take some of the pressure off of educators as WWII is a grueling unit.
Night and Fog
Filmed in 1955, this French documentary was made by filming the remains of concentration camps and using Nazi footage. It is black and white, slow paced, and eerie. I had apprehension when I showed this to my students because foreign films are difficult to watch. The pacing is different, the perspectives vary plus this was a documentary and in black and white. I was scared students would miss the impact the documentary has had on audiences.
They didn’t. They didn’t miss a thing.
They were saddened and sickened at the images and shocked by the idea that they what they were watching was real.
I first learned about this documentary when I was in graduate school and at the time it was difficult to find this film. It took months before Blockbuster had it available for their old home delivery service but the wait was worth it. This blew me away.
There was nothing shocking for the sake of being shocking. The images were chosen thoughtfully and with purpose. The fact that this was created only ten years after the end of World War II makes this documentary even more interesting. The script was written by a concentration camp survivor which makes the perspective even more memorable.
You can purchase a DVD or Blu Ray from Amazon as well as rent or purchase on Amazon Prime.
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