TIME space

How the Challenger Disaster Happened

Challenger Cover
The Feb. 10, 1986, cover of TIME Cover Credit: BRUCE WEAVER

Read TIME's original cover story about the NASA tragedy

When the Space Shuttle Challenger lifted off on Jan. 28, 1986, space flight was supposed to be safe. As TIME noted in a cover story that ran in the Feb. 10 issue of that year, NASA had spent 25 years sending Americans into space, at an average pace of about twice a year. That aura of safety was part of the reason why Christa McAuliffe, a teacher from New Hampshire, was on board, the first non-astronaut to have that privilege.

It was also part of the reason why what happened to the Challenger on that day was so shocking. As the nation watched live, “McAuliffe and six astronauts had disappeared in an orange- and-white fireball nine miles above the Atlantic Ocean,” TIME reported. “So too had the space shuttle Challenger, the trusted $1.2 billion workhorse on which they had been riding.”

What went wrong?

It was not immediately clear why things had turned sour, even as the launch procedure seemed to be going perfectly. But, as TIME explained in the diagram below, which ran with a story in that issue about how NASA was investigating the disaster, the what was a fire that started in an external fuel tank:

Challenger Diagram
From the Feb. 10, 1986, issue of TIME TIME Diagram

Read the full cover story, as well as obituaries of each of the seven crew members, here in the TIME Vault:
Space Shuttle Challenger

TIME Bizarre

13 Weirdly Morbid Vintage News Stories

What were they thinking?

In the earlier days of TIME, the magazine ran a weekly round-up of local news items of note — and, as we pointed out earlier this month, it’s proof positive that funny flubs and weird happenings have always had the ability to go viral, albeit at a slightly slower pace than they do today.

But that “Miscellany” column, in the 1920s and ’30s, wasn’t just a repository of the benignly strange. On a regular basis, it also featured deaths and killings (and, as seen above, freak accidents that result in mere permanent blindness) that we can only hope weren’t meant to be funny. Here are a few of the strangest, most macabre items we could find.

TIME health

Was Iceland Really the First Nation to Legalize Abortion?

99150378
Satellite image of Iceland Planet Observer / Getty Images / Universal Images Group

The oft-cited law was passed 80 years ago, on Jan. 28, 1935

Ask the Internet which country was the first to legalize abortion and you’re likely to find some confusing answers, many of which point in one direction: Iceland.

It’s true that, 80 years ago, on Jan. 28 of 1935, Iceland’s “Law No. 38″ declared that the mother’s health and “domestic conditions” may be taken into consideration when considering whether to permit doctors to perform an abortion. And, according to the 1977 book Abortion by Malcolm Potts, Peter Diggory and John Peel, that law stuck for decades.

However, there are a lot of caveats to that “first” label. For one thing, abortion spent centuries as neither illegal nor legal, before becoming formally legislated, which happened in the 19th century in many places. Iceland, then, was the first Western nation to create what we might now recognize as a common modern abortion legalization policy, with a set of conditions making the procedure not impossible but not entirely unregulated.

Some other nations that passed abortion laws before Iceland’s (like Mexico, for example) also included conditions, like rape, under which it would be permitted. And, as Robertson’s Book of Firsts clarifies, the Soviet Union had actually legalized abortion, on demand, more than a decade earlier. The difference was that (a) the Soviet law didn’t last, as that nation underwent a series of regime changes, and (b) the conditions for legality were different. Though abortion was later strictly limited in Russia, legalization was apparently no small thing when it was first introduced.

As TIME reported on Feb. 17, 1936:

A not entirely enthusiastic participant last week was Dictator Joseph Stalin at the celebration by massed Communist delegations from all over Russia of the tenth anniversary of the founding in Moscow of the Union of the Militant Godless. This unprecedented Jubilee of Godlessness could only be compared to that celebrated by Bolsheviks in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Legalization in Russia of Abortion.

TIME remembrance

Read TIME’s 1945 Report on the Horrors of Dachau

Hitler TIME cover
The May 7, 1945, cover of TIME Cover Credit: BORIS ARTZYBASHEFF

Jan. 27 is the U.N.-designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Holocaust Memorial Day is observed in many nations on the day of the liberation of Auschwitz — 70 years ago, on Jan. 27, 1945 — but it is designed to also encourage remembrance of those killed by Nazis elsewhere. (Some nations observe days of remembrance on other dates.)

When the May 7, 1945, issue of TIME was published, those memories were still fresh. The magazine’s correspondent Sidney Olson had just accompanied the U.S. Army during the liberation of Dachau, and the report he filed would have shocked even readers who were aware of the Nazis’ crimes.

This is what he wrote:

Beside the highway into Dachau there runs a spur line off the Munich railroad. Here a soldier stopped us and said: “I think you better take a look at these box-cars.” The cars were filled with dead men. Most of them were naked. On their bony, emaciated backs and rumps were whip marks. Most of the cars were open-top cars like American coal cars. I walked along these cars and counted 39 of them which were filled with these dead. The smell was very heavy. I cannot estimate with any reasonable accuracy the number of dead we saw here, but I counted bodies in two cars and there were 53 in one and 64 in another.

The main entry road runs past several largish buildings. These had been cleared; and now we began to meet the liberated. Several hundred Russians, French, Yugoslavs, Italians and Poles were here, frantically, hysterically happy. They began to kiss us, and there is nothing you can do when a lot of hysterical, unshaven, lice-bitten, half-drunk, typhus-infected men want to kiss you. Nothing at all. You cannot hit them, and besides, they all kiss you at the same time. It is no good trying to explain that you are only a correspondent. A half-dozen of them were especially happy and it turned out they were very proud: they had killed two German soldiers themselves.

…We went on, and the great size of the establishment of Dachau began to open before us. Buildings and barracks spread on and on. Outside one building, half covered by a brown tarpaulin, was a stack about five feet high and about 20 feet wide of naked dead bodies, all of them emaciated. We went on around this building and came to the central crematory. The rooms here, in order, were: 1) the office where the living and the dead were passed through and where all their clothing was stripped from them; 2) the Brausebad (shower) room, where the victims were gassed; and 3) the crematory. In the crematory were two large furnaces. Before the two furnaces were hooks and pulleys on rafters above them. Here, according to a number of Frenchmen, the SS men often hanged prisoners by the necks or by the thumbs or whatever their fancy dictated. From here the victims could watch while being whipped and tortured as their comrades were slid into the furnace.

Each of these pitiful, happy, starved, hysterical men wanted to tell us his home country, his home city, and ask us news and beg for cigarets. The eyes of these men defy my powers of description. They are the eyes of men who have lived in a super-hell of horrors for many years, and are now driven half-crazy by the liberation they have prayed so hopelessly for.

Read the full story here in the TIME Vault: Dachau

TIME Books

Read TIME’s Original Review of The Catcher in the Rye

Salinger cover
JD Salinger on the Sept. 15, 1961, cover of TIME Cover Credit: ROBERT VICKREY

Author J.D. Salinger died five years ago, on Jan. 27, 2010

When The Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger died five years ago, on Jan. 27 of 2010, TIME’s remembrance of his life noted that he had long been “the hermit crab of American letters,” dissatisfied with his own fame and drawn to a reclusive life away from the spotlight.

In fact, when he was the subject of a lengthy cover story for TIME in 1961, shortly after the publication of Franny and Zooey, he had already begun to recede into seclusion. Though the story is rife with biographical details — his IQ score was 104; he “played a fair game of tennis”; he was literary editor of his school yearbook — it’s absent any comment from the man himself. The cover art too drawn from a photograph, not from life.

But his books, the story suggests, contain plenty of information about the man who wrote them. “For U.S. readers, the prize catch in The Catcher in the Rye may well be Novelist Salinger himself,” TIME’s original 1951 review of the book posited. “He can understand an adolescent mind without displaying one.”

That’s not all the critic had to say about the book. Here’s the full review:

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE (277 pp.)—J. D. Salinger—Little, Brown ($3).

Some of my best friends are children,” says Jerome David Salinger, 32. “In fact, all of my best friends are children.” And Salinger has written short stories about his best friends with love, brilliance and 20-20 vision. In his tough-tender first novel, The Catcher in the Rye (a Book-of-the-Month Club midsummer choice), he charts the miseries and ecstasies of an adolescent rebel, and deals out some of the most acidly humorous deadpan satire since the late great Ring Lardner.

Some Cheap Hotel. A lanky, crew-cut 16, well-born Holden Caulfield is sure all the world is out of step but him. His code is the survival of the flippest, and he talks a lingo as forthright and gamy, in its way, as a soldier’s. Flunking four subjects out of five, he has just been fired from his fourth school.

Afraid to go home ahead of his bad news, he checks in at a cheap New York hotel; in the next 48 hours, he tries on a man-about-town role several sizes too large for him. Getting sickly drunk at a bar, he slithers away in a Walter Mitty mood, pretending: “Rocky’s mob got me … I kept putting my hand under my jacket, on my stomach and all, to keep the blood from dripping all over the place. I didn’t want anybody to know I was even wounded . . . Boy, was I drunk.”

Some Crazy Cliff. When the seedy night elevator man proposes sending a young prostitute to his room, bravado makes him play along. Besides: “I worry about that stuff sometimes. I read this book once . . . that had this very sophisticated, suave, sexy guy in it . . . and all he did in his spare time was beat women off with a club … He said, in this one part, that a woman’s body is like a violin and all, and that it takes a terrific musician to play it right. It was a very corny book—I realize that—but I couldn’t get that violin stuff out of my mind anyway.” His enthusiasm for that kind of fiddling practice fades in hopeless embarrassment as soon as the tart snakes out of her dress.

Scolded by testy cab drivers, seared by his best girl’s refusal to elope with him, and surrounded by an adult world of “phonies,” he loses control of his tight-lipped histrionics. He sneaks home for a midnight chat with his perky ten-year-old sister, breaks down and cries on her bed. In a moving moment, he tells her what he would really like to do and be: “I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around—nobody big, I mean—except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy . . .”

For U.S. readers, the prize catch in The Catcher in the Rye may well be Novelist Salinger himself. He can understand an adolescent mind without displaying one.

Read the 1961 cover story about J.D. Salinger here in the TIME Vault: Sonny

TIME weather

7 Chilling Stories of Snow Storms Throughout American History

Jan. 31, 1977, cover
The Jan. 31, 1977, cover of TIME Cover Credit: ART SHAY

If you get snowed in, here's some reading material

It was Jan. 31, 1977, when this poor freezing man appeared on the cover of TIME. The story inside, which detailed the effects on the United States of what the publisher’s letter called “the bitterest cold spell in memory.”

The first-ever reported snow fall in West Palm Beat, Fla., had shocked residents. Buffalo had been buried under more than 120 in. of the white stuff that season. And, ironically, areas that needed snow — the ski resorts of Idaho, for example — had to rely on snow-making machines despite the cold temperatures. Record lows were reported in cities nationwide. The natural-gas industry went into crisis mode. Maryland declared a state of emergency as the state’s seafood industry was shut down by a frozen bay.

But, of course, 1977 wasn’t the only year that the U.S. suffered under snow — and, right now, the Northeast is bracing for what promises to be a major blizzard.

Here are the stories of seven other noteworthy storms from American history, as told by TIME:

From the Nov. 25, 1946, issue: Blizzard on the Prairie

When a major storm hit Colorado, ranchers found that feeding and protecting their herds was more difficult than ever:

The sun disappeared behind a grey overcast, and a great stillness fell over the eastern Colorado plains. After that a freezing wind rose, banged barn doors and snatched at the smoke from lonely ranch houses. It grew dark, and salt-like snow began hissing across leagues of sere buffalo grass. Then, for 48 hours, a blizzard—the worst in 33 years—moaned down out of Wyoming with nothing to stop it but fence posts and cottonwood trees.

As the prairies whitened, scores of thousands of chunky Hereford cattle turned tail to the storm, lowered their heads, and began to drift disconsolately before it. When they came to fences they turned, followed the wire. But some time during the second night, when the snow was belly deep on the flats and higher than a rider’s head in the drifts, they stopped. When the storm ceased and the cold intensified, herd after herd stood wearily with their breaths steaming, waiting patiently for death.

Read the rest of the story here

From the Jan. 5, 1948, issue: The Big Snow

Though New Yorkers “disregard nature until it makes more noise than the subway,” a storm at the turn of 1948 got their attention:

Suddenly the city began to realize what was happening. It was seeing its heaviest snowfall in Weather Bureau history (76 years). At midnight, 18 hours and 35 minutes after the storm began, the Weather Bureau announced that 25.8 inches had fallen. It was 4.9 inches above the record set in the legendary three-day blizzard of 1888.

By 5 o’clock, central Manhattan subway stations were jammed with pushing, gesticulating throngs. Shoe stores were invaded by snow-powdered hikers in search of rubbers and galoshes. Hotels were besieged; and a backwash of the stranded headed for bars, all-night movies and the apartments of friends. Meanwhile the Fire Department was struck by the horrible thought—it couldn’t move its trucks. Its engine-house gongs rang out the “five sixes” (all firemen report for duty). It got radio stations to ask the citizenry kindly not to let their houses burn down.

Read the rest of the story here

From the Feb. 17, 1961, issue: The Cause of the Snow

Blizzards in 1961 were, TIME reported, due to a vicious cycle of weather, in which storms kept the ground from warming, which allowed cold air to get up under warmer winds, causing further storms. The result was a string of bad weather nationwide:

Particularly in the East, the frozen, snow-strangled U.S. last week could only echo General George S. Patton’s exasperated wartime injunction to his chaplain: “Goddam it, get me some good weather!”

Not since Dec. 1 had the cities and farms east of the Mississippi seen even reasonable winter weather. Ferryboats froze in Lake Michigan. Georgia peach trees shivered in the coldest winter in 25 years. New York City, buried under 55.7 inches of snow that had fallen this season, also endured 16 days of continuously below-freezing temperatures. Last week, in a taxi driver’s dream of heaven, private cars were banned in Manhattan for five days to facilitate snow removal, which so far has cost the metropolis some $20 million.

Read the rest of the story here

From the Feb. 3, 1967, issue: The 24-Million-Ton Snow Job

When Chicago was hit with a record 23 inches of show in 1967, it shut down the city almost entirely:

Chicagoans knew that the balmy 65° weather could hardly last—it was, after all, the warmest Jan. 24 on record— but they little dreamed how startling the change would be. Within two days, the temperature plummeted to the 20s, snow came cascading down, and icy winds gusted through the streets. Though no stranger to wintry storms, Chicago found itself in the brief space of 24 hours paralyzed by the worst blizzard in its history—a raging storm that tore through large sections of the Midwest and caused at least 75 deaths.

The howling blast began Thursday morning. By midafternoon, Chicago’s streets were clogged by wind-whipped snowdrifts and stalled autos. With traffic at a standstill and visibility at zero, tens of thousands of marooned workers had to spend the night in firehouses, hospitals and hotels. On the Calumet Expressway, 1,000 stranded motorists joined hands so that they would not get lost, snaked their way to nearby homes. A 50-year-old woman suffered a fatal heart attack on a stalled bus at 5 a.m. Friday. Not until six hours later could snowbound police remove her body.

Read the rest of the story here

From the Feb. 6, 1978, issue: Now It’s The Midwest’s Turn

A blizzard in early 1978 struck the East first, before turning bringing the Midwest to a stand-still and costing the auto industry an estimated $130 million:

Enough already. First the winter of ‘78 clobbered the East with heavy snow (Boston, 21 in.; New York, 16 in.), the West with drenching rains and high winds, the South with frigid temperatures and a score of tornadoes. In Massachusetts, the state’s $9 million snow-removal budget is already exhausted. California drought officials traded in their sun visors for umbrellas and began dispensing flood-control information. Motorists in Georgia shuddered at the foreign squeal of back tires spinning on ice.

Last week it was the Midwest’s turn. Roaring through the upper Midwest, the Great Lakes and the Ohio River Valley, from the Appalachians to the Canadian border, a blizzard blasted 31 in. of snow across Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. With winds clocked at up to 100 m.p.h. (hurricane force is 75 m.p.h.), the wind-chill factor hitting–50o and record-low barometric readings, the National Weather Service classified the big blow as an “extratropical cyclone.” That scarcely did justice to this great white whale of a storm. An NWS spokesman in Detroit called the blizzard “one of the worst, if not the worst,” In Michigan’s history. Kentucky Governor Julian Carroll said it was “the most devastating snow accumulation in 100 years.” Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes also deemed the storm the worst ever in his state–”a killer blizzard looking for victims.”

Read the rest of the story here

From the Feb. 20, 1978, issue: Blizzard of the Century

The bad weather of 1978 continued as Providence received 26 inches of snow, coastal landmarks in Massachusetts were destroyed and temperatures even in the South plunged down to well below freezing:

Buffeted by winds of up to 110 m.p.h., a 42-ft. Coast Guard pilot boat, the Can Do, capsized and sank in Salem Harbor. The captain and the four-man crew were drowned. In nearby Nahant, Melvin Demit, 61, was lighting the furnace in his basement, when a wall of water crashed into his house and engulfed him. In Scituate, a raging sea swept five-year-old Amy Lanzikos to her death just as a rescue boat was bringing her to safety.

This was the scene along the Massachusetts coast last week, as a mammoth blizzard–the worst since 1888–slammed the Northeast, dropping from 1 to 4 ft. of snow in the latest blast from a winter of stormy discontent. Raging from Virginia to Maine, the hurricane-like storm killed at least 56 people, caused an estimated half billion dollars’ worth of damage and crippled Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for five days.

Read the rest of the story here

From the Jan. 22, 1996, issue: The Blizzard of ’96

A more recent blizzard drew complaints from some New Yorkers that there were “no trains, no cabs, no nothin’ — just snow”:

It was eraser on a near impossible scale. First the sky went blank, and then the ground. Then, in most places, your front steps disappeared, then your car; and finally, your schedule for the next 48 hours. How big was the snowstorm that hit the Eastern states early last week? So big that in each new place it bulldozed over, it toppled a different historical precedent. In New York City they compared it to the great storm of 1947. In Boston it was the blizzard of 1978. In Raleigh, North Carolina, the snow of 1989. That won’t happen next time. Whenever they do their recollecting, January 1996 will be the Last Big Storm for the entire East Coast.

It was a classic nor’easter that happened to stretch over 20 states and do tremendous damage. At least 100 lives were lost, many to heart attacks triggered by Sisyphean shoveling. Bill Clinton called the storm a “national disaster” and promised federal relief. In the New York region alone, an estimated $1 billion was lost to interrupted business and cleanup costs.Every region got more than it was prepared for. An inch of icy snow sufficed in Atlanta, where tractor-trailers skidded across highway lanes and the indoor Peachtree Center shopping area became deserted.

Twenty-four inches knocked out Washington; Philadelphia got a record 30.7, and New York City endured 20.6. Even jaded Boston, with 18.2 inches, postponed a Bruins hockey game (against the Colorado Avalanche).

Read the rest of the story here

TIME White House

The Story Behind Bill Clinton’s Infamous Denial

It was on this day in 1998 that President Bill Clinton (as seen around 6:18 in the video above) uttered 11 words that would go down in history: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinsky.”

Though the definition of “sexual relations” — and other phrases — may be questioned, even in hindsight, Clinton did eventually end up admitting to an affair.

So why did he say those 11 words in the first place?

One possible explanation can be found in the Feb. 9, 1998, TIME special report that explored the impact of that speech:

While Starr was trying to make his case, Clinton’s job last week was to persuade the American people to reserve judgment, let the investigation proceed and bear with the Great Explainer’s refusal to explain much of anything. So after days of watery nondenials and rumors of resignation, last Monday Clinton finally gave voters who wanted to believe in him an excuse to do so. In the Roosevelt Room of the White House Monday morning, with Hillary beside him, he stared into the camera and narrowed his eyes. “I want you to listen to me,” he said. “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time, never.”

It was an enormous gamble, the result of a fierce White House battle. While Clinton had for days been urged by adviser Mickey Kantor and others to toughen his denial, the Monday morning statement was finally worked out in a post-midnight strategy session with former deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes and Hollywood imagineer Harry Thomason. Ickes, the street-smart infighter who had steered Clinton’s re-election campaign only to be bumped out of a second-term job, flew in from California and went straight to the White House. Ickes’ prescription for the President: Look the people straight in the eye and, to the extent you and your lawyer are confident, say, “I didn’t do it.” Only a loud, unambiguous denial would “stanch the wound,” Ickes said. Thomason, meanwhile, helped the President rehearse the stern, reproving body language, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

It was the first of several turning points, and it worked. That afternoon, when Hillary arrived in Harlem to visit an after-school program, the crowd was jeering reporters, chanting, “Leave Bill alone!”

Read more about the semantics of the statement, here in the TIME Vault: When Is Sex Not ‘Sexual Relations’?

TIME movies

See 19th-Century Kinetoscope ‘Movies’ That Thomas Edison Helped Develop

'Edison' premieres on Jan. 27

Pretty much everyone knows that Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and the light bulb, but Edison, one of history’s most prolific creators, didn’t stop there. As this exclusive clip from PBS’ upcoming American Experience documentary Edison explains, he helped develop the technology behind the very first motion pictures — and it wasn’t an easy discovery.

Eventually, the Edison company produced a run of short films for the “kinetoscope,” an early device that allowed the public to watch the precursors of movies. Several of those seconds-long films can be seen in the video above. Though they pale in comparison to the computer-enhanced movies at your local IMAX theater, it’s not hard to imagine how they would have shocked and delighted the viewers of the 19th century.

Edison premieres on PBS on Jan. 27, 2015.

TIME Television

News of Hitler Finally Reaches Downton Abbey

Beer Hall Putsch Trial
A courtroom scene on Mar. 3, 1924, during the treason trial of Adolf Hitler and Erich Ludendorff (following the unsuccessful Beer Hall Putsch of November 1923 Hulton Archive / Getty Images

"A horrid bunch" is putting it mildly, Lord Grantham

Contains spoilers for Season 5 Episode 4 of Downton Abbey

Though Lady Edith was more concerned with the whereabouts of the missing Michael Gregson, history buffs may have caught something else in the news she received from Munich during the episode of Downton Abbey that aired in the U.S. on Jan. 25.

Viewers already knew that Michael had disappeared after being involved in a fight in Munich, shortly after moving to Germany in order to divorce his mentally ill wife so that he could marry Edith. Now, with a phone call from Michael’s office, more information is available: the gang who got into a fight with Michael was apparently a “group of thugs” who “wear brown shirts and go around bullying people,” as Lord Grantham phrases it. Their leader, who tried to start a revolution, is on trial, so more information about Michael’s fate may soon become available.

If you didn’t guess, that “absurd” man — as Edith puts it — is Adolf Hitler.

The trial she mentions took place in March of 1924, after the event sometimes referred to as the “Beer Hall Putsch.” For about a year before that, Hitler (along with General Erich von Ludendorff) had agitated for a fascist, monarchial revolution against the republican government that ran Germany at the time. Throughout 1923, the Hitlerites clashed with their many opponents throughout Germany, culminating in an attempted coup. Here’s how TIME described what happened, in the Nov. 19 issue of that year:

Under cover of darkness General Erich von Ludendorff, flagitious, inscrutable, unrelenting, sallied forth into the streets of Munich, capital of Bavaria, accompanied by his faithful Austrian, Herr Adolf Hitler, to make a coup for the Hohenzollerns [a dynasty of monarchs] by way of celebrating Nov. 9, the fifth anniversary of the abdication of the then Kaiser of Doorn.

With unerring instinct they led their men to a beerhouse, called the Bügerbrau Keller, famed Bavarian cellar. Within was Bavarian Dictator von Kahr, Minister President von Knilling, Minister of Interior Schweier and some others. Dr. von Kahr was in the middle of outlining his state policy in which he denounced Marxism, when the door opened and in walked Herr Hitler and General von Ludendorff with some of their followers, who fired a few shots into the ceiling by way of effect.

Herr Hitler declared the Bavarian Government had been superseded and elected himself not only head of Bavaria but Chancellor of all Germany.

Though it seemed the next day that “Chancellor” Hitler was in control of the city, the revolt was soon crushed. Hitler was found hiding in a friend’s house a few days later and, after a trial in the spring of 1924, convicted of treason. But, though Lady Edith wouldn’t have known it then, that was not the last the world would see of him and his followers. “They’re a horrid bunch, from the sound of it,” Lord Grantham said — and history would prove him very, very right.

TIME movies

Forgotten Alfred Hitchcock Holocaust Documentary Gets New Life

See an exclusive clip from HBO's new film about a 1945 concentration-camp documentary

It was 70 years ago next week, on Jan. 27, 1945, that the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz was liberated. That day is now marked as Holocaust Memorial Day, with observations dedicated to preserving the memory of what happened there, and elsewhere, during World War II.

But one way of preserving that memory was, for decades, mostly lost.

When Auschwitz and several other camps, like Bergen-Belsen, were liberated, the British army sent along a film unit. Under the aegis of Sidney Bernstein, and with the help of supervising director Alfred Hitchcock, the grisly and shocking footage was meant for a documentary called German Concentration Camps Factual Survey. However, as the war came to a close, the governments that had once supported exposing German crimes had a new interest in reconciliation. So plans for the film were scrapped, and most of the footage was archived at Britain’s Imperial War Museum until the 1980s.

A new documentary, Night Will Fall, tells the story of how the footage came to be, and what happened to it. In the exclusive clip above, some of that footage is shown and Branko Lustig — an award-winning film producer who was in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen as a child — describes what it was like to be there. Though the clip shows mostly recovering patients after the liberation, Night Will Fall also includes terrifying and uncensored video from the camps, images that, as is appropriate for Holocaust Memorial Day, no viewer is likely to be able to forget.

The new HBO documentary film, Night Will Fall, will debut Jan. 26 on HBO, with an encore on HBO2 the following day.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser