November 03, 2021
Semi-animated Netflix documentary short reveals the secret story of the Jewish soldiers who watched over prisoners of war on US soil
‘It’s absolutely insane’: the shocking story of the US-based Nazi camp
Too vast in scope to be contained within war drama, the Holocaust movie constitutes an entire genre unto itself, collecting a potentially infinite number of tragedies great and small. The history of the 20th century’s most massive atrocity comes with thousands of footnotes now gradually expanded upon by media depicting the unsung courage and untold evil. Israeli documentary film-makers Daniel Sivan and Mor Loushy singled out one such extraordinary tale for their latest joint project, Netflix’s short film Camp Confidential, drawing attention to a highly covert MILITARY operation only recently released from behind redaction-marker bars. “The first thing is, when producers Benji and Jono Bergmann approached us with this and told us of the story, we didn’t believe it,” Sivan tells the Guardian. “It was just so out-there.”
The black-op facility tucked away in northern Virginia’s Fairfax county sounds like something out of a pulp paperback: Jewish soldiers, many of them refugees from the devastation in Europe, watched over Nazi prisoners of war in a surreally domestic setting. Known as PO Box 1142, it housed such notables as spymaster Reinhard Gehlen and rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, who faced interrogations that would help lift the Allies to victory in the second world war. But those in charge of the base were also tasked with maintaining a baseline quality of life for the inmates, leading to bizarre scenes such as a department store outing with former members of the Third Reich to purchase unmentionables for their wives. Bulldozed at the end of the war and buried in secrecy until the National Parks Service unearthed some remnants in the early 2000s, the clandestine camp now doubles as a cautionary tale for modern Jews and a memorial for those who came before them.
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