In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoa), which is today, I want to highlight some of the films showing on TJC that explore rarely considered facets of the Holocaust experience and prove how many different stories there still are to tell.
One of the most shocking Holocaust stories is that of Ilse Stein. The Jewess and the Captain reveals how Ilse, a beautiful young Jewish girl, fell in love with a Nazi officer, who went on to save her life — and the lives of several other Jews from the Minsk ghetto. The documentary shares an interview with Ilse just before her death, shocking archival photographs, and KGB secret documents in order to reexamine her strange romance that blossomed in the middle of the ghetto.
While The Jewess and the Captain explores the Holocaust from a Jew’s perspective, Shadows Of Memory looks at WWII through the rarely-explored eyes of ordinary German citizens. People often ask, “How could the Holocaust have happened? How could so many good people not see what was going on?” This documentary tries to answer the daunting question through conversations with three generations of German women, including the filmmaker’s mother, a woman who lived through the war but didn’t see the atrocities—or chose not to.
With the overwhelming number of horror stories the Holocaust produced, it is easy to close our eyes to the most disturbing facts and tales, but Leo’s Journey: The Story Of The Mengele Twins (which premieres tomorrow) confronts the story of Dr. Joseph Mengele head on. Following a rare survivor of the notorious doctor’s “medical” experiments, on his journey back to Auschwitz for the first time since the war, the film explores what Mengele — often referred to as the Angel of Death — was doing with Jewish twins at Auschwitz. What was he researching and why did only 258 of 3,000 twins survive?
Clearly, Leo’s Journey is meant for an adult audience, but A Story About a Bad Dream is a Holocaust film geared towards children. It tells the story of a little girl’s Holocaust experience through the gentle voice of a naïve child, with colorful reenactments that make the story digestible for younger viewers, who, in decades to come, will be responsible for keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive.
These are just a few of the excellent and eye-opening documentaries showing in TJC’s History and Remembrance category, where you’ll find new and provocative titles sharing stories from the Jewish past every month.
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