This morning I sat down to watch the BBC documentary 'Most Wanted' part of the series The Last Nazis.
I found myself extremely frustrated with how the BBC conducted these interviews. The interviewers visited three alleged Nazi war criminals, were granted a very rare audience (considering two of three men escaped trial - at that time), and blew every chance of securing meaningful information. Rather than asking probing questions, they instead consumed alcohol with them, shook their hands warmly after the 'interview', and repeated to ad nauseam 'thank you'. These men were (two now dead) the last of a generation - yet these rare interviews offered very little interrogation.
The naivety of the young BBC interviewers was very apparent. At one point, during the third interview (or rather dinner date), the interviewer lamented 'once again, we are drinking with an alleged Nazi war criminal'. Then stop. Ask questions instead. Conduct an interview. The interview agreed to. I understand warming up the subject, and trying to form a bond of trust on which to conduct the interview, but this verged on schmoozing. Worse, on several occasions they assisted with (apparent) scapegoating by not probing and nodding along to all and any claims. When interviewing Josef Scheungraber (who was soon found guilty of multiple counts of murder and received a life sentence) they actually read out a statement drafted by his lawyers in place of the actual interview. They read out the pre-planned questions as well as the planned answers! Astonishing. Their interview coincided with the trial of Scheungraber, one of the last Nazi trials, yet did little to engage with this important historical moment.
The interviewers were not only out of their depth but insulted everyone by declaring (in a line that would absolutely infuriate Hannah Arendt) that they didn't ask any questions and drank with the subjects because they felt obligated. The interviewer explains: 'it's more than a little uncomfortable but we are in his home, and we feel obliged to follow his lead'.