[ClearStory Productions: Fair use for reporting and review]
London based production company ClearStory, makers of the controversial documentary series “Battlefield Recovery” [formerly Nazi War Diggers] have responded to the criticisms of the series by Polish organisation Pomost, which we reported earlier in thePipeLine. A spokesperson for ClearStory told us that the company had worked closely with Pomost, acting on comments and suggestions made by the group after representatives had seen an early edit of the programme and that the programme transmitted in the UK by Channel 5 fully acknowledged Pomost’s work and “supervising role”.
Responding to the part of yesterday’s statement which expressed Pomost’s concern that the series depicted the excavation of German soldiers in Poland as, in Pomosts words;
“…something between adventure and badges collecting”
and that based on the versions of the documentary they had seen Pomosts’s work was depicted in a “dishonest way”, the ClearStory spokesperson told thePipeLine:
“We worked closely and very successfully with Pomost during the production of the episode in and around Poznan. Pomost members viewed a rough cut of the programme in 2014, suggesting a handful of improvements, which we than implemented in the final version of the programme.”
Faced with the criticism from Pomost and critics in the UK and Poland, that the programme seemed to downplay the role of Pomost, referring to the Polish group as “extra muscle”, “reinforcements” and, as described on screen by co-presenter Kris Rodgers “help”, the ClearStory spokesperson added;
“Pomost’s supervising role is made clear and their expertise is featured throughout the programme, referred to in subtitles, through voiceover and in credits. The episode also shows Pomost members extensively working in the pit at Sarbka. We corresponded with Pomost about the facts relating to the Sarbka case during 2015 and Pomost did not voice any concerns to us about the programme at that stage.”
The spokesperson concluded;
“We note that Tomasz Czabański’s statement admits he has not viewed the final version of the film.”
In an earlier statement reported by C21 Media a ClearStory spokesperson responded to the cancellation of the scheduled showing of Battlefield Recovery in Australia and New Zealand, barely forty eight hours after the announcement that the series had been acquired by Foxtel saying;
“It’s hugely disappointing and seems to be censorship by an internet minority who have yet to see the film. We hope the channel will reconsider scheduling the series – strong and rigorous compliance was a priority in the making of the series which is serious in its purpose and achievements.”
In fact the initial response to the series from archaeological and heritage sector seems largely to have been driven by the original promotional material, including several photographs and video trails, released by the National Geographic Network when the series, then called “Nazi War Diggers”, was first scheduled the Spring of 2014 and then the criticisms were primarily based on matters of ethics and the alleged mishandling of human remains. Now that the series has been shown in both Poland and the UK issues of health and safety, in particular allegations of a dangerously casual attitude to deep excavations and the handling of ammunition, ordnance and weapons, have been added to the catalogue of complaints [See thePipeLine passim]. It has also been pointed out that of the many objects shown in the series and the hundreds claimed to have recovered and saved by ClearStory in its media releases, only five objects were deemed important enough to be actually accessioned by the Latvian War Museum. Whereabouts of the remainder is unknown, although National Geographic stated in 2014 that;
“No items were trafficked or sold.”
However, it has been pointed out that the wording used does not exclude the possibility that excavated material may have ended up in private collections.
Neither of the statements explain why the programme recorded in and around Poznan and Sarbka was never broadcast in Poland in spite of being scheduled.