'Night and Fog' is an astounding documentary on the hideous events of the Holocaust. Although only thirty minutes long, it nevertheless provides an excellent and moving account of Auschwitz.
Its 'beauty' lies in its simplicity - there is no drama or sensationalism. It depicts the Holocaust simply as it was, using original footage as a testimony to the unprecedented horror. The commentary is equally excellent in its simplicity and clarity, and compliments perfectly the moving and heart-wrenching images. What makes the documentary great is its power to shock, to make the viewer utterly unable to understand how such industrialised inhumanity could ever occur in a civilised and cultured nation. It also illustrates the immense scale of the genocide, and the total dehumanisation of the victims, whose skinny, lifeless corpses are used as an economic resource for Nazi Germany - to make cloth, to make soap, even to make 'art'. 'Night and Fog' is superb in its depiction of the modern, bureaucratised, and production-line nature of Nazi genocide.
Made in 1955, 'Night and Fog' shows the Holocaust as it was before much scholarly debate had begun. It shows us simply what happened, leaving us with utter incomprehension as to why it happened. Seeing original footage, it makes us wonder what was going through the minds of the perpetrators. Did they really believe that what was being done was in the name of progress? Did they feel any pity? Did they enjoy what they were doing? 'Night and Fog' captures the inability to comprehend how such unspeakable horrors occurred, and does not pretend to have any answers for why the Holocaust could have happened.
At a time when the Holocaust is fading from public memory, I think this documentary should be watched by all. I do not understand why moving and explicit documentaries like this are not broadcast on Holocaust Memorial Day. Perhaps by showing the Nazis' totally repugnant disregard for human life, we can achieve man's new categorical imperative - to never again allow Auschwitz to happen.