Soon after the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, an incident occurred in the town of Konskie in which a number of Poles were massacred by German soldiers in reprisal for Polish partisan attacks on Germans. Photographs were taken, one showing the bodies of the murdered Poles lying on the ground. Also present in Konskie that day was a uniformed woman in charge of a German “documentary” film crew. She was Leni Riefenstahl, then thirty-seven years old and well known as Hitler’s favored filmmaker. A photograph was taken of her, too.

These photographs taken at Konskie haunted Riefenstahl after the war when she was accused of being an eye-witness to Nazi atrocities. Although a German de-Nazification tribunal cleared her of this charge, she was so tainted by her association with Hitler and other Nazi leaders that she found it impossible to resume her career as a filmmaker. Tiefland, which she had been working on...


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