Sixty years of secrets
In the new documentary "Hiding and Seeking," survivors some of whom hid the others from the Nazis offer yet another perspective on the question, can Holocaust histories become too much of a bad thing?
By LESLIE (HOBAN) BLAKE
In the recent update of her monumental study, "Film and the Holocaust,"
Annette Insdorf estimated that for every Holocaust documentary that
actually gets seen, there are at least six others made. (She lists almost
70 an average of one every two months made since 1990.) In the last
year alone, we've seen at least five Holocaust docs, including "Secret
Lives," "The Nazi Officer's Wife" and "Bonhoeffer," and two features,
"Taking Sides" and "The Statement."
"Hiding and Seeking," is a deceptively simple home movie cum
documentary by Menachem Daum and Oren Rudavsky. But it speaks directly to the
above Holocaust documentary question posed in an article last June by
New York Times' writer Barry Gewen that prompted a flurry of letters.
Most reiterated that there could never be enough Holocaust films
because each experience was singular.
|HIDING AND SEEKING|
|Full title: Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance after the Holocaust.|
Directed by: Menachem Daum, Oren Rudavsky.
But some singularities are more singular than others and "Hiding and
Seeking" features yet another aspect of the holocaust experience,
previously undocumented. "Hiding and Seeking," the second of Daum's proposed
trilogy on Jewish responses to the Holocaust (his first was "A Life
Apart: Hasidim in America") is a deceptively small and personal film about
the immense question of "intolerance of the other."
During World War II, Daum's father-in-law and his two brothers were rescued
by Christian neighbors in his native Poland. Yet the father-in-law, like
many other Holocaust survivors, considers all Poles to be "incurably
anti-Semitic and beyond redemption." And these are the views he's passed
along to his grandsons, Tzi Dovid and Akiva, who are yeshiva students
in Israel. For Daum, a secular humanist born in a DP camp (as was his
wife, Rifka), this film became his hope of stopping the intergenerational
transmission of hatred within his own family.
A visit to Poland finds Jews as scarce as hen's teeth. But it also
uncovers several small miracles, including the discovery of two of the
actual rescuers still living on the same Polish farm where Rifka's father
and his two brothers were hidden 60 years earlier. The rescuers explain
what great personal risk they took hiding three Jewish boys, and their
disappointment at never hearing from any of them again is as palpable
as it is surprising.
The film moves us in unsuspected ways as six decades later father and
sons join together to honor the saviors of their
father-in-law/grandfather/uncles. But there is no Hollywood happy ending. While Daum's sons
are clearly moved, they are not convinced nor do they give up their
intolerant ideas. As one of them says, "they [the Polish people] would probably
do it again," an eerie echo of myriad testimonies in "Shoah," Claude
Lanzman's harrowing 1985 filmed oral history of the Holocaust in Poland.
|FEBRUARY 7, 2004|
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