Thursday, 14 November 2013

Belsen liberator, Leonard Berney, takes part in landmark Belsen documentary "Night Will Fall"

Leonard Berney, second from right
Those involved in the original production included
Alfred Hitchcock!

Leonard Berney was interviewed in Haifa, Israel earlier today about the part he played in the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. Then a Major in the British Army and only 25 years of age, he was one of the first of the allied troops through the gates of Bergen-Belsen on 15 April 1945.

"Night Will Fall", a feature-length documentary, produced by Spring Films in association with Angel TV and the Imperial War Museum will be released in 2014.


In the spring of 1945, Allied forces liberating Europe found evidence of atrocities which have tortured the world’s conscience ever since. As the troops entered the German concentration camps, they made a systematic film record of what they saw. Work began on a documentary to show the horror they witnessed to the German population.

Sidney Bernstein, chief of the Psychological Warfare Film Section of SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) commissioned the film. Those involved in the production included Alfred Hitchcock and renowned editor Stewart McAllister; they produced perhaps the most remarkable testament of the 20th Century. “No German can say he didn’t know” insists the commentary, co-written by Richard Crossman, the future cabinet minister.

These sentiments were judged by the British Government to be unsuitable to the bridge-building mood towards Germany. The film was never shown.

40 years later an American researcher found a rusty can marked “F3080” in the vaults of London’s Imperial War Museum. It was in very poor condition and the last roll was missing, but in 1985 a scratched and blurry copy was shown on PBS in America. Now after three years of work by Dr Toby Haggith of the Imperial War Museum, the entire film has been fully restored and piece by piece, frame by frame, the lost last reel has been put together from the original shot lists. For the first time in history the completed “F3080” is ready to be shown.

Spring Films in association with Angel TV and the Imperial War Museum is producing a 90” documentary for theatrical and television release. This documentary, ‘Night Will Fall’ is to coincide with the release of the remastered original film and will tell the remarkable story behind the making of the film, the people involved and the reasons why it was never shown.

Spring Films is an award-winning, London-based production company specialising in international co-productions and high-end documentaries for television, cinema, DVD, IMAX and multi-media platforms

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