Wartime Witness is a 12 part documentary film focusing on the "first person" experiences of European civilians during the Second World War to enable us to learn about history's greatest conflict from the liberated, not only the liberators.
These "average" Europeans tell their poignantly compelling stories for the first time in front of a camera. These are the stories normally shared only with family and friends around a kitchen table that are now documented and perserved for history. Though it has been commonplace in large-scale projects to portray the war along military battles and political conflicts, there has not been a documentary on this scale focusing entirely on a key group of participants, the civilians.
The war was all around the people of Europe with battles fought in their backyards, schools, churches and the very houses in which they sought shelter. To date, 175 interviewees from 14 different countries have come before the camera to tell their touching and often inspirational stories. These are the personal tales of risk, sacrifice, courage, love, pain, perseverance and kindness of real people caught up in an unreal time in the face of unimaginable brutality and cruelty.
The first episode in the series, "The Selection" centers on seven Hungarian Jews as they are sent to Auschwitz in the Summer of 1944, and how they are able to survive their interaction with "The Angel of Death", Dr. Josef Mengele and his macabre process of selection. Produced by Witness Productions LLC, an American production company with its operational base in Budapest, Hungary, the series is directed and produced by Jeff McAllister, the creator of the project. The goal is to create a major series for educational use and television broadcast. The interviews are conducted in English whenever possible, and in the native languages as necessary. However, all stories are brought to the screen in English.
Each episode contains several clips of interviews conducted to bring out the commanilities and differences of that theme from country to country. The personal stories are brought to life with use of re-enactments, personal photos, maps, archive material and historical narrative.