The Man Who Saw Too Much

The Man Who Saw Too Much

The Man Who Saw Too Much tells the story of 106-year-old Boris Pahor, believed to be the oldest known survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. He was sent to Dachau, Dora, Harzungen, Bergen-Belsen and Natzweiler – one of the Nazis’ least known but most deadly camps. Twenty years after the war, Pahor wrote an extraordinary book about his experiences called Necropolis – City of the Dead.

Alan Yentob visits Boris Pahor at his home in Trieste, where he talks about his fight against fascism and the Nazis. Boris, a Slovenian, was born in the tolerant, cosmopolitan city of Trieste in 1913. After World War I, when it became part of Italy and Mussolini rose to power, fascists burned down the Slovene cultural centre, closed their schools and the speaking of Slovene in public was banned. During World War II, Boris fought with the Italian army until its surrender in 1943, when he returned to Trieste just before the Nazis took over the city. He joined the Slovene resistance but was betrayed and handed over to the Gestapo, and sent on to the camps. Natzweiler, where he was to stay the longest, is hidden in the mountains of Alsace. Nearly half of its 52,000 prisoners died through the effects of forced labour, malnutrition, illness and execution. The Nazis conducted medical experiments on prisoners and, on one occasion, 86 Jews were brought to the camp and executed to provide skeletons for a Nazi professor of anatomy’s collection. Natzweiler was the first concentration camp in western Europe to be discovered by the Allies – but the camp was empty, its prisoners has been taken to Dachau.

Pahor’s harrowing descriptions are illustrated with remarkable drawings by fellow prisoners, creating a unique record of conditions in the Nazi death camps. His testimony, along with details from a shocking report into the camp by British intelligence officer Captain Yurka Galitzine and the chilling testimony by SS commandant Josef Kramer, infamous as the Beast of Belsen, combine to tell an extraordinary story.

The Man Who Saw Too Much – Wednesday 9pm on BBC4

What’s on TV tonight

Advertisement