An Israeli-made, partially animated documentary short film about Nazis in the United States was shortlisted for an Academy Award on Tuesday.
“Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis,” a 35-minute film available on Netflix, was among the 15 movies on the shortlist in the documentary short category, narrowed down from 82 entries. The film features World War II veterans discussing a secret US military camp in Virginia where Jewish soldiers interrogated, guarded and attempted to gain the confidences of Nazi prisoners of war.
Filmmakers Daniel Sivan and Mor Loushy were behind the movie, which is based largely on extensive interviews with two US veterans, Arno Mayer and Peter Weiss, about their experiences attempting to learn secrets from the prisoners.
“Almost all [of us] were refugees from the Nazis,” Weiss says in the film. “We would have preferred to treat them as the war criminals they were. In the army, you can only follow orders. I tried to suppress my rage.” He states that he “was not fully aware of the enormity of what had happened under the Nazi regime,” but notes, “My grandfather, uncle, aunt, cousin, other relatives all died in the Holocaust, like so many others.”
“At first the story sounded so bizarre and unreal we could barely believe it — that [there was] a secret Nazi camp near Washington, DC, run by Jewish refugees,” Sivan and Loushy wrote in an email. “It took us some time to understand this is not a fictional story, but actually happened.”
In a joint Zoom interview with The Times of Israel, the directors recalled their initial doubts about the accuracy of the story. “OK, it was probably like an urban legend, a myth,” Sivan remembered thinking. Loushy said that she could understand if it had happened after the war, but to “realize it [had already begun] in 1942 was shocking to us.”
The final five nominations in the category will be revealed on February 8, and the 94th Academy Awards ceremony is slated to be held on March 27.
Rich Tenorio contributed to this report.