Until recently, one reel of Nazi-shot film has been the source of all available footage of the Warsaw ghetto. But in 1998, a British researcher found a second reel in a storage room at an American Air Force base. In A Film Unfinished, director Yael Hersonski publicly airs this new footage for the first time—and reveals that the images the world has for decades associated with the Warsaw ghetto were staged. In this reel of “outtakes,” Nazi propagandists recruit the few healthy, comparatively better off Jews for carefully crafted scenes aimed to demonstrate that Jews were living well in Warsaw and, to the extent that there was misery, that affluent Jews were to blame for causing it.
No one believed the original film was an accurate depiction of ghetto life. But here Hersonski movingly documents yet another dimension to Hitler’s cruelty: Warsaw’s Jews were conscripted to keep the world in the dark about their own impending demise.