Friday, May 26, 2006

Auschwitz: The Forgotten Evidence

When an Allied photo-reconnaissance plane flew over southern Poland in the summer of 1944, it took extraordinary images of the nazi most evil extermination camp of them all - Auschwitz.
From these aerial photos it is possible to see in detail how the SS organised their factory of death, in which 12,000 people were being murdered daily. But the photos were never analysed at the time and were simply filed away.
Using these photos as a unique starting point, this programme takes an entirely new look at the Holocaust by asking what did the Allies know about the Nazi extermination camp? When did they find out about it? And, most importantly, what could they have done to stop the killing?
These photos are remarkable and chilling to look at. The gas chambers and the crematoria are clearly visible. In one of the photos, a train has just arrived and the SS guards are separating the fit looking new arrivals from the young, the old and the less fit who will be gassed and burned immediately.
So as not to panic the new arrivals and to encourage them to go quietly to the gas chambers, the SS even planted parks and gardens by the railway and these too can clearly be seen from the photos. On another, smoke is seen rising from the back of one of the gas chambers because the numbers of bodies to be burned were too many for the crematoria to cope with and the bodies were being burnt in open pits.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill was appalled by reports of the killing at Auschwitz. He called it, "probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world". He implored the RAF to bomb the camps but nothing was done.
This film explores the whole debate about what could be done to bomb the camps looking at all the options that were available at the time and asks the crucial question - why did the Allies not do something to stop the killing at Auschwitz?


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