Samuel Fuller would go on to a career
as the uncompromising director of such films as "Shock Corridor,"
"The Naked Kiss," "Pickup on South Street" and "The
Big Red One" (inspired by his Army days in World War II).
But on May 9, 1945, Fuller was serving in
the 1st U.S. Infantry Division when, armed with a 16mm Bell &
Howell camera, he documented the aftermath of the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp in Falkenau, Czechoslovakia.
According to Fuller,
he was asked to record the gruesome spectacle of the
emaciated bodies of the near-dead, as well as burial preparations of the victims, by his battalion commander, Captain Kimble
R. Richmond. The death-camp survivors, Fuller wrote, "raised their bald
heads and looked at us, eyes sunken in anguish, their mouths agape, a hand here
and there reaching out, grasping for anything, begging us for assistance in
In addition, the
townspeople of Falkenau - who professed ignorance of the camp's true nature - were
compelled by Richmond to witness the proceedings or face execution. They, like
the viewers of Fuller's footage, could not turn away.