P.O. Box 1142
Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis is a brief, bitesize documentary that follows the story of Jewish immigrants working in America during the war. Specifically, it covers the creation and running of P.O. Box 1142. With animated reenactments mixed in with brief talking head segments, the film is enjoyable but feels like it really should have been a lot longer for the material being explored.
For those unaware, P.O. Box 1142 was a secret American intelligence facility that operated during World War II. The project was split into two groups, the MIS-X program which focused on American prisoners of war. The other, MIS-Y, was tasked with interviewing these same prisoners and gaining crucial intel.
One of the main targets here is that of rocket scientist Wernher Von Braun, whom the guys used to try and help stop Hitler’s plans for world domination. The fears here were that Hitler’s V-2 rockets would become so powerful they could strike Manhattan from Berlin.
Most of the documentary follows the stories of two Jewish survivors from this secret installation, who live to tell their tales while many took their secrets to the grave (thanks to a sworn oath of secrecy.) The project worked well for the most part, gaining valuable intel from prisoners, but undoubtedly did so with questionable methods.
It’s here where the documentary gets a little morally skewed. P.O. Box 1142 was subsequently shut down thanks to violations of the Geneva Convention, but those in charge vowed that torture wasn’t used. And yet, in this documentary we hear the story of a prisoner being driven around in an ambulance and then having a simulation of gas being pumped inside (psychological warfare) through using a vacuum cleaner outside. Convincing him that he’s ingesting poisonous gas, the soldiers forced him to talk.
However, America’s Secret Nazis doesn’t really dive into this – or the overall impact of this project – in much detail, nor does it talk about the larger war effort beyond some tidbits here and there. To be fair though, there is some expository text at the end informing what happened to these Nazis but beyond that, the documentary does leave one wanting to know more about the nitty-gritty details of this project.
At only 35 minutes though, America’s Secret Nazis is certainly watchable but is unfortunately light on detail. The animation and editing is pretty good though and certainly helps this stand out but one can’t help but feel this could have greatly benefited from a longer run-time of around an hour or so – along with a more balanced perspective.
Despite that, this is not a bad documentary film and history enthusiasts should enjoy America’s Secret Nazis.
Verdict - 6.5/10