BBC Four, 10pm



Daily Telegraph

Tuesday 24 January Television

“Of the Jewish presence in Nasielsk, nothing remains. No memorial. No sign. The only thing left is an absence.” Bianca Stigter’s film is a profound meditation on the Holocaust that conveys a haunting sense of its appalling scale through the annihilation of one Jewish community in one small town. The title refers to three minutes of ordinary (but viewed through the lens of history, extraordinary) footage recorded by film-maker David Kurtz on a visit to his birthplace, Nasielsk in eastern Poland, in 1938. Discovered by Kurtz’s grandson in 2009, who wanted to unravel the stories behind the images, it overflows with life. Hundreds of Jews mill around the town square and synagogue, smiling, laughing, waving – excited by Kurtz’s camera. What none of them could have known is that within months they would all be gone: humiliated, beaten and robbed, deported to the ghettos of Warsaw and on to death camps by the Nazis. A community of 3,000 extinguished; the sense of absence compounded by the intense, repeated focus on faces, clothing, forgotten names, the few traces that remain to remind us of the horror. Gerard O’Donovan