The Independent reports that the documentary, called "Memory of the Camps," will air later this year on British television, as well as screen at several film festivals and theaters, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Europe's liberation. It was shown once in on PBS in 1984, but was missing one of its six reels and in poor condition; the new version has been remastered and contains some recovered portions of the lost reel.
"Memory of the Camps" was commissioned in part to help drive home to the German people the atrocities committed by the Nazis, and force the country to take responsibility for those actions. Hitchcock was brought on as a director and was tasked with piecing together footage shot by the British Army Film Unit, including the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.
But Hitchcock was so disturbed by what he saw that he had trouble finishing the film; he reportedly refused to return to Pinewood Studios for a week because of the horrifying footage. Work on the documentary was slow and tedious, and was soon scrapped all together, after its benefactors realized that its impact would be lessened by the rapidly-changing political climate. Five "Memory of the Camps" reels were left to the British Imperial War Museum, untouched until the early 1980s.
Toby Haggith, senior curator at the Imperial War Museum's Department of Research, said the documentary will be renamed before its public screenings later this year. Recent test screenings revealed that the footage was still "extremely disturbing" all these years later, he said.
"One of the common remarks was that it [the film] was both terrible and brilliant at the same time," Haggith said. " ... We can't stop the film being incredibly upsetting and disturbing, but we can help people understand why it is being presented in that way."