28. Auschwitz

Jim Shelley traces the evolution of criminality, from Auschwitz to Seattle

Tapehead no.28

What’s haunting about the footage in this week’s Horizon: Auschwitz, Blueprints of Genocide – is not the (rather stock) footage of the nazi concentration camps and the Holocaust, but the way the programme concentrates on the minutiae of the genocide, details the details.

The blueprints in question are the plans of the architects that designed Auschwitz, plans previously kept in the archives of the Russian secret service since their discovery at the end of the war.

Through analysis of the plans, the momentum of the holocaust builds up agonisingly to the Final Solution, as week-by-week the architects adapt and expand them to include more gas chambers.

Even the ventilation engineers are profiled; their work increasingly covert, chillingly precise.

The architects’ plans offer conclusive corroboration of survivors’ testimonies, survivors like the woman who recalls being herded around the camp in groups of five.

“I didn’t turn around. I took it for granted my mum was following me. But as I turned around to see if she was coming, she’d already gone. From that day on, I haven’t seen my mother alive.”

The atmosphere in Bahia, in Brazil, and the festivities for the Candomble (an extraordinary mixture of religious beliefs bringing together Catholican and African divinities) could hardly be more of a contrast.

Arena, which looks at the songs celebrating the people’s personal orixas (god or goddesses), settles into the same leisurely pace as the Brazilian streetlife and carnival parties.

Watch out for the two carpenters sanding wood in the streets (demonstrating the art of dancing while doing DIY) and a local artist who recalls how his grandmother detested Candomble, even though his grandfather was a pai de santo.

“He went to live with her out of revenge, after she saw him in the street one day and beat him up. He said, ‘Since you have beaten me up, you will be my woman’.”

Well we’ve all been there.

From Brasil to south London, where the local culture, needless to say, consists of the boozers, bookies, football hooligans, drugs, and pubs of The Bill.

All Things Nice is a minor classic; a raid, a mystery murder, and an exemplary instance of the raiding officer instructing her men to
“Go. Go. Go.”

Perhaps the highlight of the episode, the apex of Bill-ness, is this week’s scorching scene-stealing supporting roles. They are delivered by the girls playing three rough sarf London tarts whose demeanour, observations, and performance at the scene of the crime make the witches of macbeth look like The Supremes.

Meanwhile in Seattle, police life also goes on for Frasier. The good Dr Crane Father, a retired cop, is himself still wrestling with an old case.

“It’s a hobby,” he explains. “Some guys build a boat in the garage, I try to figure out why a maniac would kill a hooker and try and stuff her entire body into a bowling bag – it’s relaxing.”

And how.

This week’s episode is I Hate Frasier Crane, in which the irascible radio shrink gets into a running feud with a newspaper critic. Look out for a cunning cameo from Joe Mantegna – upstaged only by Moose as Eddie The Dog.

“What am I? Frasier complains (to Eddie), “Some sort of canine enigma ?”

Best gag: “Stuart’s on the line, Dr Crane. He’s having a problems with delayed gratification.”
“Well, he’s just going to have to wait.”


Horizon: Auschwitz, The Blueprints for Genode: Mon, 8pm-8.50pm, BBC2
Frasier: Wed, 10pm-10.30pm, C4
The Bill: Fri, 8pm-8.30pm, ITV
Arena – Bahia Of All The Saints: Sat, 7.45pm-9.35pm, BBC2