F for fake

“Don’t tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish.” -Mark Twain

You can’t make any political career if you can’t tell truly fishy stories but it wouldn’t do much good to tell a fish story about a great big bass when everyone knows there are only minnows and sunfish in the pond.

In early 2014 we could read news about drunks and hooligans desecrating the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin; the news that ex-Nazi officer Siert Bruins is free to leave court and many other like the ones related to the french reverse Nazi salute called “quenelle”.

But another news that brought lots of attention through social media was that Alfred Hitchcock did a Documentary about the Nazi death camps. Almost all digital media echoed such news and provided the link of YouTube for their readers so they could watch it.

That was a hoax publicized by the Imperial War Museum. Alfred never did it.

The Psychological Warfare Division Headquarters of the Allies began a production -labeled F3080- in February 1945, using footage of British cameramen, Americans and Russians. Three months later the British Ministry of Information and the American Office of War confirmed their participation.

In Hollywood, obese and known for his fear of eggs, Hitchcock’s mind could be at that time with the uranium-wine-bottle-McGuffin for his “Notorious” film or with his orange-peel-lose-weight-program under the strict supervision of Alma Reville but not full time in Pinewood Studios with the editing/montage/or post-production work for such documentary film.

Initially the North Americans tried to take the footage to Munich in order to put it in the hands of Billy Wilder but they couldn’t achieve their plan. However with the same material Wilder produced a documentary titled “Die Todesmuhlen” (The Death Mills) which premiered in January 1946 in areas under American controlled Germany.

Then, producer Sydney Bernstein requested Hitchcock to participate in the project and he accepted ONLY motivated by the need to correct his lack of commitment during the bitterest moments that his country suffered during the war. Hitch spent a month only discussing and exchanging some ideas with the screenwriters Colin Hill and Richard Crossman (journalists for “London News Chronicle”) and gave some advices to the editors Stewart MacAllister and Peter Tanner; then he allowed them to add his name on the credits as “treatment adviser”; but never he was interested in documentaries nor in this one and his inputs to the final documentary film was nil; so quietly he was pleased when the British authorities paralyzed the project.

Finally that original project F3080 was orphaned when it got dissolved the Psychological Warfare Division and the British government decided that the contents contravened their purpose of making the new Germany in a preferred ally so the production was abandoned, incomplete.

In 1952 the celluloid footage were transferred to the Imperial War Museum in London and they were canned under the title “Memory of the camps”. There the footage remained filed without background sound until it was rescued and screened at the Berlin Film Festival in 1984. A year later it got released by the PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) in the United State’s program “Front line” with narration by British actor Trevor Howard who got international fame during those years after his acting in 1982’s “Gandhi”.

The announced chilling new images in that documentary “made by Alfred Hitchcock” are chilling but not unprecedented. You can see them in hundreds of documentary films. So why the Imperial War Museum publicized such news? Maybe because they wanted to make a publicity stunt most probably for next year celebration (70 years of the end of WWII).

But if the current generation cares little or cannot get ready to feel infuriated or disturbed or bothered when for example the CEO of Nestle, Peter Brabeck is been caught on video saying he believes water should not be a public right, instead it should be something only to the wealthy should have access (Nestle is the 27th. largest company in the world and does over $65 billion in business; the attitudes of these corporate heads are very frightening), what people care if Tarantino re-writes WWII history with “Inglorious Basterds”, or if for a future upcoming Blu-Ray release of “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” printed/digital/social media spread the publicity hoax that the events happened almost 70 years back ended thanks to one of the spells of Mr. Emelius Browne? After all Walt Disney produced the Substitutiary Locomotion… The bigger the lie… the more readily are people to tend to accept it.

About the Author
Alfredo de Braganza is an award-winning independent filmmaker & chocolate-coated sufganiyah lover from Spain currently living in India. His documentary "Smoking Babas" was selected for the Madrid International Film Festival and his film "Maayan The Fisherman" for Best Narrative Film at the Florida International Film Festival. He is the first Spanish person to make a feature film in India, on celluloid and native language. His documentary "Boxing Babylon" won Best Documentary Awards at the 2013-Norway Film Festival and New Delhi International Sports Film Festival. He can be contacted at:
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