20. As the Germans attempted to hide the evidence of the extermination camps they made a film about Theresienstadt
In late 1944, German-Jewish actor and film director, Kurt Gerron, was instructed to make a film about life in Theresienstadt. It drew all of his performers and film crew from the camp population. Gerron’s film included a performance by a symphony orchestra, a children’s choir, and depictions of healthy Jews receiving medical care. The film also depicted the Jews at work, at play, and in family situations typical of a safe and care-free people. After filming was completed, and it was ready for editing, Gerron and the film crew were deported to Auschwitz. They were sent to the gas chambers upon arrival.
By April of 1945, Himmler found another use for the film. The Russians had already overrun most of the camps in the east. The western allies were finding similar camps as they continued to drive towards the heart of Germany. Himmler opened negotiations with the International Red Cross through envoys. He hoped to strike a deal with the western allies, which would allow him to deny knowledge of the eastern camps. It was to no avail. Nearly all of the players who appeared in the film, and the crew which made it, were executed in the extermination camps before the film was ever seen. It was shown, in its entirety, four times. It is considered lost today – other than short segments comprising about twenty minutes.