Friday, February 26, 2010

New Video Clips for Four Jewish Documentaries

The Museum of Family History has recently introduced four new film clips to its Screening Room:

--The Warsaw Ghetto 1940-1943 is documentary project that features three films. The main film is 912 Days of the Warsaw Ghetto (37 min.), and the two short ones are Children in the Ghetto and Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. These films were created for the Jewish Historical Institute as part of its permanent exhibit on the fate of Warsaw's Jews during the period from 1939 to 1945. They present the daily lives and deaths of those imprisoned in the ghetto, their hopes and efforts to survive, their armed resistance and struggle, and finally their total extermination. Unique Polish and German archival materials were used in the preparation of these films.

To see the film preview, simply use the link for film no. 24 that can be found within the main Screening Room page by clicking here.

--Paint What You Remember: Mayer Kirshenblatt left Poland for Canada in 1934. Fifty-six years later, at age seventy-three Mayer began to paint his childhood memories of prewar life in Opatów. Before Second World War Opatów (or Apt in Yiddish) had ten thousand inhabitants, more than half of them Jewish. Nowadays, little is remembered of the shtetl character of the town and of its Jewish population wiped out entirely by the Holocaust.

In this film the audience is taken on a journey through a world, which existed seventy and eighty years ago, and back to today's world. We witness how the local population in Opatów interacts with perhaps the first Jew they ever meet – a person who represents a heritage so central in the history of the place, and yet so obscure to the people who live there today. Just as the people of contemporary Opatów, the viewer are introduced to a rich and vibrant world of Jewish rituals, celebrations and sorrows, holidays and funerals, trade and poverty – all this told and painted by an eye-witness, one of the very few remaining descendants of a lost civilization.

Sadly, Mayer passed away this past year, but his life and his passion for recreating the shtetl life that once existed in Opatów lives on in not only the aforementioned film of his work, but also within two exhibitions the Museum has created. Please visit both the Museum's main Kirshenblatt exhibition, as well as his work relating to the Jewish holidays.

--Tell Me Why: What one thing that is most difficult to discuss, and which happens to only so few of us... love. We dream of it, we struggle to find it... and want to believe that if we only do, the world will become a better place. But what if love comes to us at a time we ought to forget? What happens when love is intimately linked with tragedy?

A Polish Jew, Jurek Kamieniecki was just shy of 20 when the Second World War broke out in Poland. Together with his wife Stella they managed to survive the first year of the German occupation with the help of their Polish friend Janusz Malinowski. Janusz helped Jurek enter the Polish Home Army (AK) resistance and provided him and his family with false IDs. Thanks to this, in early 1940 Stella found asylum in the territories occupied by the Soviet Red Army. Though Jurek managed to illegally cross the border to see his wife, he chose to go back to the Polish partisan troops and continue resisting Nazi occupation.

To read more of the film's synopsis and see the film clip, please

--The Last Witness: The documentary spins a tale of Samuel Willenberg's life. He was twenty at the outbreak of the armed revolt on August 2nd of 1943 in the death camp of Treblinka in Poland. As a result of the revolt four hundred out of a thousand inmates managed to escape Treblinka. Sixty-seven of them survived the war. The narrative, however, is here and now, against the background of today's Poland and Israel.

There were only three armed mutinies in the history of Nazi death camps. The first one was in Treblinka, the second one in Sobibór on October 1943 and the third was in Birkenau (Brzezinka) in October 1944. The mutinies were caused by the world's indifference towards the Holocaust. Claude Lanzman told the Sobibór revolt story in his "Sobibor". The ‘Last Witness’ is the first film to tell the story of the Treblinka revolt. You can see the video clip at

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