Tonight I watched the Frontline program - Memory of the Camps, containing footage of the Nazi concentration camps in Germany and Austria, filmed soon after liberation. It was put together right after the war but not shown until 1985 by PBS. It is very chilling. It was made apparently to show to German civilians, to demonstrate to them what they and their government were responsible for doing. Some of the footage shows German civilians being shown through the camps, seeing the emaciated survivors, and the bodies of the dead; most it seemed watched stoicly but some began to weep. At Buchenwald German civilians see lampshades made of human skin and tattoos taken from prisoners' skin and tanned, one of the many stomach-turning scenes in the film. As of Thursday (which is Holocaust Remembrance Day), it will be possible to view the film online through the PBS web site. It has very graphic footage - don't have your children watch it!
It made me think of how Darfur will be memorialized if we do not succeed in stopping the genocide. I have recently seen, both on television (the Lehrer Report) and in the New York Times really unrealistically sunny reports on the possibility of peace coming to Darfur. The Lehrer Report piece underestimated the number already dead in Darfur. And tonight on the BBC news shown on our local PBS station after the Frontline show, there was a brief article about the Darfur children's pictures (which I already wrote about below) and how they might be used in the prosecutions at the International Criminal Court. The BBC reporter said that "100,000" have already been killed. Why are programs like this continuing to underestimate the number of the dead? Even Amy Goodman's show on Democracy Now (broadcast today), which discussed the disgusting ties between the American CIA and the Sudan Government's Mukhabarat (secret police/intelligence) underestimated the number of deaths. If the numbers are consistently underestimated like this, it leads to people of good will thinking that it's not such a big deal what's happening in Darfur, makes it easier to turn the page and ignore what's going on. These news reports should be using Eric Reeves' figures - almost 400,000 have died thus far, both of direct murder and from hunger and illness.
This coming week, the Darfur Action Group at Cornell will be showing documentaries on Darfur and having a panel discussion. If you're in the Ithaca area, please come!
DARFUR ACTION GROUP | CORNELL UNIVERSITY Presents...
"Documenting Darfur" Film Forum
Featuring the best video documentary and alternative media work about the ongoing genocide in the western Sudanese region of Darfur
May 9, 10 + 11 @ 5:00 pm
ALSO: 11 May 2005 @ 8 pm (MG 165)
Distinguished professors will take part in a Panel Discussion about the documentaries and the ongoing crisis in Darfur
FREE ADMISSION - ALL ARE WELCOME - REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.