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Documentary film in the 1930s


Escaping internment and working as a cameraman
Wolfgang Suschitzky Film-maker
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I had great luck, as I had luck all my life, really. I forgot to mention that. Great luck to... live through two world wars, to escape the holocaust, to find a wonderful wife who brought...- who gave me three lovely children who later became valuable human beings. I escaped internment, I think it was because I had photographed a girl and the father came with her to see her being photographed, and afterwards I learned that this man was a policeman and he had kept several cards of refugees in his locker. So I wasn’t really a... a dangerous alien because this policeman had protected me. Also, I had taken a job for a medical firm by then, after the outbreak of the war, doing advertising photography and photographed their laboratories, and that was considered a protected... protective occupation. And I had to stop working on films at the beginning of the war, but in 1942 I was asked to be a cameraman again because most of them were called up and there was a shortage. So I joined Paul Rotha again, who had his own company by then, and I made a kind of newsreel called Work Around Warfront of what happens in the factories, how the women took over, and how fighter planes are being made and other technical new items, which affected the war and should be of interest to the public.

Born in Austria, Wolfgang Suschitzky (1912-2016) trained as a photographer and became one of the first in his field to take portraits of animals. After coming to England he worked with Paul Rotha as the cameraman on various documentaries and films such as “No Resting Place”, “Ulysses” and “Get Carter”.

Listeners: Misha Donat

Misha Donat is the son of Wolfgang Suschitzky. He has composed music for the theatre and the cinema (including films directed by Lindsay Anderson, and by Albert Finney). For more than 25 years he was a senior music producer for BBC Radio 3, where he planned and produced the prestigious lunchtime concerts at St John’s, Smith Square, at which many of the world’s leading artists appeared on a regular basis, and also instigated a Young Artists’ Forum as a showcase for musicians of the coming generation. As a broadcaster himself, he has given many radio talks. Misha Donat has contributed a large number of programme notes to the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, South Bank, Aldeburgh Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Brighton Festival and other venues, and he has written CD booklets for such labels as Decca, DG, RCA, Philips and Hyperion. He has been a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine since its inception more than 10 years ago, and has written articles for The London Review of Books, The Guardian, The Musical Times, The Listener, Opera, and other publications. He has taught at the University of California in Los Angeles, and has given lectures and seminars at Vassar College and Bard College in New York State, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore), and in the UK at Durham University, the Barbican Centre, the Royal Festival Hall, and the Norwich Music festival. He is currently working as a producer for the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Tags: Holocaust, World War II, Work Around Warfront, Paul Rotha

Duration: 2 minutes, 52 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2008

Date story went live: 06 August 2009