The Three Screenings of a Secret Documentary. Theresienstadt Revised

Natascha Drubek

Abstract


This article provides a fresh perspective on the footage shot in the ghetto of Theresienstadt, known under the titles Ghetto Theresienstadt, Theresienstadt 1942 and Theresienstadt. Ein Dokumentarfilm aus dem jüdischen Siedlungsgebiet aka Der Führer schenkt den Juden eine Stadt / The Führer Gives a City to the Jews. Revisiting original Czech, German, and French sources, the article argues, contrary to the general consensus, that the different film shoots from 1942 to 1945 constitute a single film project. N. Drubek suggests corrections to its filmographic data, such as the inclusion of the last Jewish Elder of the ghetto, Benjamin Murmelstein, as co-author of the script.A comparative examination of sources establishes the date, time and place of the first official screening of the film, for delegates of the Committee of the International Red Cross. Revising earlier conceptions on the intended effects and target audiences, the article draws attention to the fact that the film was initiated by the Sicherheitsdienst of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) in 1942 and screened at the end of the war to three carefully selected closed audiences. A study of the audience of the premiere on April 6, 1945, allows the reassessment of the question whether the film can be labeled as a propaganda film, or should rather be qualified as a stratagem of the German secret service.



Keywords


Benjamin Murmelstein; Paul Dunant; Otto Lehner; Erwin Weinmann; Adolf Eichmann; Theresienstadt; ghetto; Czernin palace; 1945; International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Holocaust; filmography; premiere; audiences;

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17892/app.2016.0002-3.73

Apparatus. ISSN 2365-7758


Supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft