REVIEW: ‘Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis’ – An Untold History

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Camp Confidential: America's Secret Nazis

Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis is an animated documentary short by Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan about a highly classified U.S. military operation during WWII where Jewish soldiers served as guards to captured Nazis held just outside of Washington D.C.

Using video and audio recordings produced by the National Parks Service in 2005, the film details the ordeal of several Jewish soldiers and recent refugees who served at highly secret P.O. Box 1142 POW camp. There are two halves to the short movie, the period while the war was still ongoing and the soldiers were used to interrogate captured Nazi soldiers, and the period after the war, when captured Nazi rocket scientists were snuck into the country and the camp was repurposed to attempt to flip them to supporting American rocket experiments. Both halves tell of a drastically different mission but retain a core struggle for the soldiers involved: they had to play nice with the Nazis who murdered their families in Europe.

The information about the secret prisoner camp is certainly interesting. It’s a highly classified mission that took 50 years to become public after the war. The film is masterfully edited to tell a single, cohesive story from several disparate narrators. But what stands the film out is when it gets to the heart of its subjects’ feelings about their work. They were filled with rage throughout their service, which at first, they could direct towards making Nazis spill sensitive information.

But when the scientists came to town, the soldiers had to be their friends and chauffeurs. I can’t even pretend to imagine the distress and trauma that must come with looking at the person who built rockets to murder civilians at the behest of the perpetrator of mass genocide against my people and having to serve him tea and buy his family Christmas presents. The fact that these former soldiers even were able to talk about their experience with such poise is monumental. I only wish the film was able to more intensely play up those emotions and make it more clearly the focus of the film. It splits its emotional energy between the hard historical facts and the Jewish lens, and I wish it leaned not that lens at least a bit more.

What elevates the documentary from an average, interesting film is its animated presentation. The majority of the film, when not using footage of the interview subjects, uses animation to reenact the stories being told. It’s a fairly rudimentary animations type, with one or two scenes where the models are somewhat blocky and unsettling. But in general, this low-fi style actually enhances the storytelling for me, as the simplicity makes following the story easy rather than being distracted by flashy visuals. It’s a bit too dark in some moments, but overall it’s left me hoping to see a similar approach to more documentaries in the future.

Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis is a creatively delivered and immensely interesting documentary about a part of American history that has been documented to death. This look into a hidden history is totally fresh, especially with the uniquely Jewish angle.

Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis is streaming now on Netflix.


Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis is a creatively delivered and immensely interesting documentary about a part of American history that has been documented to death. This look into a hidden history is totally fresh, especially with the uniquely Jewish angle.