SPECIAL EDITION: AFTER THE HOLOCAUST “WHERE LIFE LEADS YOU”

November 19, 2019 at 5:30 am

The Staten Island Advance’s Emmy Award-winning film “Where Life Leads You” tells the story of the borough’s Holocaust survivors through firsthand accounts of atrocities they will never forget. But as they remember and reflect, they also celebrate the gift of life.

Aired on June 13 & November 18, 2019.

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>> TONIGHT ON "METROFOCUS."
THE AWARD WINNING FILM WHERE
LIFE LEADS YOU.
STATEN ISLAND HOLOCAUST
SURVIVORS SHARE FIRST HAS NOT
ACCOUNTS OF THE ATROCITIES OF
WAR THEY CAN NEVER FORGET.
AS THEY REMEMBER AND REFLECT,
THEY ALSO CELEBRATE THE GIFT OF
LIFE.
JOIN US AS SURVIVORS TELL THEIR
STORIES ON THIS SPECIAL EDITION
OF "METROFOCUS" STARTING RIGHT
NOW.
>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH
RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND
JENNA FLANAGAN.
>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE
BY
JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH,
SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,
THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTT
ANTI-SEMITISM.
BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ,
ROSALIND P. WALTER,
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,
AND BY --
>>> GOOD EVENING.
I'M JACKFORD.
WHERE LIFE LEADS YOU.
A VERY APT TITLE FOR A FILM
WE'RE ABOUT TO PRESENT.
FOR SURVIVORS OF HITLER'S
HOLOCAUST, EUROPEAN JEWS LOOK AT
THE HORRORS OF HISTORY AND THEY
FOUND IT RIGHT HERE IN AMERICA.
BETWEEN 1945 AND 1952, THE U.S.
ADMITTED FOUR HUNDRED,000 OF
THESE MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN TO
OUR SHORES.
AND NOW, AS THEIR NUMBERS
DWINDLE DUE TO OLD AGE, A
SURPRISING STATISTIC.
45% OF ALL LIVING SURVIVORS,
ROUGHLY 45,000 OF THEM, CALL THE
NEW YORK AREA HOME.
EACH YEAR IN STATEN ISLAND,
DOZENS OF THEM MEET TO CELEBRATE
THE GIFT OF LIFE.
FOR THESE MEN AND WOMEN, THE
ULTIMATE REVENGE AGAINST HITLER
WASN'T JUST SURVIVING THE WAR.
IT LIES IN THE EMBODYMENT AND
SUCCESS OF THEIR CHILDREN, THEIR
GRANDCHILDREN AND GREAT
GRANDCHILDREN.
LET'S LOOK AT THESE SURVIVORS
AND WHERE LIFE LED THEM.
>> IT'S SOMETHING THAT DOES NOT
GO AWAY EVEN AFTER MORE THAN 60
YEARS.
UNFORTUNATELY, A LIFE LASTING
NIGHTMARE.
LET'S PUT IT THAT WAY.
>> THEY WANT TO KNOW WHAT
HAPPENED.
SO THEY TOLD ME TO TELL THEM.
NOT JUST TALKING.
I SEE IT.
>> I HAVE A DREAM.
THAT I GOT OLD.
I CANNOT MAKE IT.
AND NEXT WHEN THE DOOR OPENS UP,
I AM NEXT TO GO INTO THE
CREMATORIUM.
>> THESE STORIES OF OUR
NEIGHBORS WHO ARE HOLOCAUST
SURVIVORS ARE DIFFERENT THAN
OTHER HOLOCAUST STORIES.
BECAUSE THEY'RE IN OUR
COMMUNITY.
>> BEFORE THE WAR, I HAD A VERY
NICE LIFE.
I USED TO GO TO CAMP VERY OFTEN
AND IT WAS A VERY NICE CAMP.
AND THEY USED TO COME TO VISIT
US.
WE WERE HAPPY.
WE WERE HAPPY.
>> I HAD A VERY GOOD MOTHER OF
SHE WAS 17 WHEN I WAS BORN.
SHE HAD TO SUPPORT US.
THREE CHILDREN.
>> WE LIVED IN A SMALL TOWN.
MY MOTHER WAS A SEAMSTRESS AND
MY FATHER WAS FARMING.
>> WE USED TO GO TO MOVIES.
LIFE WAS BEAUTIFUL.

§
>> FIRST TIME WE WERE THERE, IN
THE SYNAGOGUE, IN THE ROOM.
SOMEBODY BANGED ON THE DOOR.
GET OUT, GET OUT.
I DON'T KNOW WHO IT WAS TO THIS
DAY.
BUT HE SAVED OUR LIVES.
WE RAN OUT LIKE CRAZY.
SHOTS WERE FIRED.
AND ON THE WAY, WE TURNED
AROUND, THE SYNAGOGUE WAS SET ON
FIRE.
>> HEIL!
HEIL!
>> WE HAD TO WEAR YELLOW STARS.
LIKE 4:00 IN THE AFTERNOON.
WE COULDN'T GET OUT FROM THE
HOUSE.
FIRST WE STRUGGLED WITH
ARMBANDS.
THEN THEY CONFISCATED YOUR
STUFF.
THEY GRADUALLY, IN 1940, THEY
STARTED MOVING THE PEOPLE TO
MAKE KRAKOW JEWS-FREE.
>> WE WERE IN THIS APARTMENT
HOUSE.
THEY CAME OUT OF THE BUILDING.
WE HAD TO RAISE OUR HANDS AND
GET INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE
STREET.
AND THEY WERE YELLING, DIRTY
JEWS.
>> AND THEY WANT TO HIT YOU,
THEY HIT YOU.
IF THEY WANTED TO PULL YOU, THEY
PULLED, YOU DO IT OR YOU JUST --
GET OUT OF THE WAY OR WHATEVER.
>> WE WERE CONSTANTLY BEATEN.
IT WASN'T PLEASANT.
>> JUST TAKE AS MUCH AS YOU
COULD CARRY AND THEY TOOK US TO
THE GHETTO.
WHEN WE LEFT THAT TOWN, NOT A
BIG HILL BUT YOU COULD SEE THE
TOWN.
SO I WAS THINKING TO MYSELF,
WILL I EVER SEE IT AGAIN?
OR THAT'S IT?
>> IN THE GHETTO, IN BUDAPEST,
WE WERE ALL IN ONE ROOM.
ONE BEDROOM APARTMENT WITH ONE
KITCHEN, ONE BATHROOM, 14 OR 15
PEOPLE.
>> I WAS IN THE GHETTO.
IT DIDN'T TAKE LONG AFTER I WAS
BAR MITZVAHED.
MY GRANDPARENTS LIVED TOGETHER
WITH US IN THE SAME APARTMENT IN
THE GHETTO.
AND THEY TOOK THEM TO THE DEATH
CAMP.
AND IN 1942, THEY HUNG MY TWO
COUSINS.
WE GOT ACROSS THE BORDER TO
SLOVAKIA, TO HUNGARY.
WHERE WE WOUND UP IN AN
ORPHANAGE.
IN A HUNGARIAN JEWISH ORPHANAGE.
WE CLAIM WE WERE NOT JEWS.
>> WE GOT CHRISTIAN PAPERS, I
DON'T KNOW HOW.
ME, MY MOTHER, MY SISTER.
WE WERE IN THE ATTIC, LIVING IN
THE ATTIC FOR THREE MONTHS.
IF THEY EVER FIND WITH US THE
FAMILY, THEY WOULD HAVE KILLED
THEM ALSO.
>> SO I WENT OUT WHEN THE GHETTO
WAS CLOSED.
PEOPLE USED TO COME FOR WORK.
AND I WAS WAITING FOR MY MOTHER.
MY MOTHER DIDN'T COME.
SO I TOLD A LADY WITH THE SAME
COAT.
MOMMY, MOMMY!
MY MOMMY!
THE SAME COAT MY MOTHER HAS.
I CALLED MOMMY, MOMMY.
SHE DIDN'T TURN AROUND.
IT WAS THE SAME MOVEMENT, THE
SAME CLOTHES.
THEY WENT DOWN.
DID YOU FIND YOUR MOTHER?
NO.
THEY KILL HER.

VERY BAD.
VERY BAD.
ONE TIME THEY CATCH ME.
THEY CATCH ME.
THEY SEND ME AWAY.
>> THEY WERE WAITING.
THEY SHOVED US IN.
WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT'S GOING ON.
WHERE ARE WE GOING, WE HAVE
NOBODY TO ASK.
>> THERE WAS NO FOOD.
I MEAN, FOOD, FORGET ABOUT IT.
>> AND THE TRAIN WAS GOING TWO
DAYS AND TWO NIGHTS.
NO WATER.
NO FACILITIES.
SO IT WAS AWFUL.
>> THERE WAS A BABY BORN.
AND I WAS THERE.
I HAD TO HELP.
ON THE TRAIN.
I MEAN, IT WAS STILLBORN, LUCKY
FOR THE BABY.
THEY WANTED TO TAKE AWAY YOUR
HUMANITY FROM YOU.
TAKE AWAY YOUR --
>> WHERE WE WERE GOING.

>> THEN THEY OPENED UP THE CARS
AND EVERYTHING WAS, SNELL.
GO FAST.
YOU DIDN'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON.
>> THERE WAS A GUIDE.
IT IS ENGRAVED IN MY MIND.
MENGELA, THEY CALLED HIM.
IT WAS TO GO.
MY MOTHER, MY FATHER, THEY
SHOULD GO HIDE.
AND HE TOOK MY YOUNGER SISTER.
AND FOR ME, FOR MY TWO OLDER
SISTERS, HE TOOK US GO LEFT.
AND I NEVER SAW MY MOTHER AND MY
SISTER, NEVER AGAIN.
>> AND THEN THEY TOOK US TO THE,
IT WAS A BATH HOUSE.
THOSE YOUNG SS BOYS.
18, 19, YOU KNOW.
WE GO THERE.
WE HAVE TO UNDRESS.
TAKE OFF EVERYTHING.
YOU'RE A TEENAGE GIRL.
YOU'RE A LITTLE SHY FROM THIS
YOUNG KILLER.
>> THEY CUT OUR HAIR.
THEY TOOK ALL OUR CLOTHES.
WE ALL CAME OUT.
WE DIDN'T RECOGNIZE EACH OTHER.
>> AND WE GET A DRESS.
GRAY DRESS.
ONE FIT ALL.
THAT'S ALL.
>> I WANT MY MOTHER.
I WANT MY MOTHER.
I WAS NOT EVEN 14.
>> WE HAD TO SLEEP IN BUNKERS.
>> PICK STUFF UP.
THEY PUT US -- IT WAS COLD.
WITH THE BODY.
>> THE NIGHT BEFORE THEY TOOK
US.
MY MOTHER HIDE US ON A BLANKET.
MY MOTHER WAS HIDING US, I WOULD
SAY, THREE TO FOUR MONTHS.
THE GERMANS CAME IN AND COUNTED
US EVERY DAY.
>> AND THEY GAVE US THE TATTOO.
>> THIS NUMBER WAS THE TATTOO OF
AUSCHWITZ.
AND THAT MEANS THAT I AM A JEW.
THEY CALLED ME -- I LEARNED MY
NUMBER BY HEART.
>> 858.
>> THEY PUT YOUR NUMBER.
7564.
>> THIS ONE, WE GOT THE NUMBER.
WE HAD TO STAY ALIVE.
THE DEAD DIDN'T GET A NUMBER.
>> THEY FINISHED, THEY TOOK US
TO
TO SORT OUT SHOES.
I FOUND MY MOTHER'S SHOE THAT
SHE WORE.
YOU ONE DOOR, YOU WENT IN.
LIKE THIS.
THE FIRE WAS BURNING.
>> THEY WERE BURNING IT DAY AND
NIGHT.
>> THEY SAID THAT OUR PARENTS
ARE THERE.
YOU SEE THEM?
THERE YOUR PARENTS GOING TO GO.
>> YOU'RE GOING TO GO OUT THERE.
HE SHOWED US THE CHIMNEY OF THE
CREMATORIA.
UNFORTUNATELY, IT WAS WHERE ALL
THE DEAD PEOPLE WERE BURNED.
>> THERE WERE PITS.
THEY JUST DUMPED IN THE SICK
PEOPLE, ALIVE.
PROBABLY MY GRANDMA WIND UP THE
SAME DAY.

>> WE WERE FULL OF LICE.
WE DIDN'T BATHE.
THE LICE WAS IN THE HAIR, ON THE
WALLS, NO FOOD.
IMAGINE.
>> WE GOT SOUP IN THE EVENING.
6:00.
WE WERE SO HUNGRY.
NOBODY WANTS IT.
IT WAS MUD POTATOES.
>> YOU HAD ONE BOWL AND YOU HAD
TO SHARE WITH THE WHOLE FIVE
PEOPLE.
IF SOMEBODY TOOK A BIG FIFTH,
THERE WAS CHAOS.
>> THERE WAS A COUPLE OF JEWISH
PEOPLE.
NORMAL HUMAN BEINGS.
I WOULD SAY WE GET A SMALL PIECE
OF BREAD.
IT WAS LIKE YOUR LIFE SAVER.
EVERY TIME, I REMEMBER.
I CAN'T TALK NO MORE.

>> I WAS TOGETHER TWO YEARS.
VERY HARD.
I HAVE A DREAM THAT MY SISTER,
MY BROTHER ARE UP AND THEY SAY,
WHY ARE YOU SUFFERING?
HUNGRY?
COME TO US.
IT IS WARM, FOOD.
I WAS DREAMING.
THE FOLLOWING NIGHT, THEY CAME
AGAIN.
WHY DIDN'T YOU KILL YOURSELF?
AND I WANTED TO GO TO KILL
MYSELF.
TO THE TO THE ELECTRIC WIRE.
ONE NIGHT IT WAS SNOWING.
I WENT.
BUT WHEN YOU COME TOO CLOSE TO
THE WIRE, THE SOLDIERS, THEY
WALK THE CAMP.
THEY SHOT.
THE FIRE WENT NEXT TO MY EAR.
SO I GOT SCARED.
SO I CAME.
WHY DIDN'T I?
>> IT WAS A FEW DAYS.
THEY TOLD US JUST TO GO THAT
MUCH.
JUST TOO MUCH.
WE HARDLY HAD ANY CLOTHES.
WE JUST HAD ONE LITTLE DRESS OR
SOMETHING.
I WAS FOR TEN DAYS.
TEN DAYS.
NO FOOD.
>> WE HAD TO WALK.
IF YOU COULDN'T WALK, THEY SHOT
YOU.
>> ALL OF US HAD OUR HAIR
CHOPPED.
THE SCREAMING.
RUN AWAY!
I TURN THE AHEAD.
THE SOLDIERS CAME TO ME.
THEN I TURNED MY HEAD.
BUT THE EYES STAYED LIKE THIS.
TO SHOCK ME.
THEY WERE GOING TO KILL ME.
AND HE DIDN'T DO IT.
HE WANTED TO CAN I ME.
WE WENT TO ANOTHER CAMP.
I WAS THERE MAYBE TWO WEEKS.
THREE WEEKS.
YOU ARE LIBERATED.
THE ENGLISH LIBERATION.
YOU ARE LIBERATED.
I AM TRYING TO TELL YOU.
ENGLAND.

>> TO TELL BUT THE RUSSIAN
LIBERATORS.
>> NICE TO US.
THEY ONLY WANTED SEX.
I WAS ONLY 15.
>> THAT'S WHAT I DON'T
UNDERSTAND.
WE WERE LIBERATED APRIL 15th.
AND MY MOTHER DIED APRIL 27th.
AND WE WERE STILL WITH THE LICE
INFECTED PLACE.
>> WE WERE SAYING, WAIT, MANY
DON'T GO BACK.
ESPECIALLY THE ORPHANAGE.
NOBODY WENT BACK.
WE WERE THE ONLY PARENTS THAT
CAME BACK.
THE NEWSPAPERS ALL OVER BECAUSE
NOT TOO MANY PEOPLE CAME BACK
FROM THE CONCENTRATION CAMP.

>> EVERYBODY FROM THE HOLOCAUST
WHO IS HERE, WE ARE HERE BY A
MIRACLE.
§

>> IT IS A GATHERING OF
HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS REJOICING,
THAT THEY SURVIVED THE
HOLOCAUST.
>> THEY OPENED IT UP.
IT WAS OPENED UP TO US LIKE A
NEW LIFE.
>> I CAME IN.
THE NUMBER.
EVERYBODY WITH THE NUMBER.
I GAVE THEM THE NUMBER FROM
HERE.
7564.
§

>> EVERYTHING THAT A LOT OF
PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE DONE YEARS
AGO.
THIS GENERATION ONE TIME WILL GO
AWAY.
THIS SHOULDN'T BE FORGOTTEN.

>> SO MANY BAD THINGS.
AND THEY DON'T CARRY ANY HATE.
THEY TAKE IT MORE AS SOMETHING
THAT HAPPENED AND THEY'RE HERE
AND THEY SURVIVED.
>> MY FAMILIAR.
I MADE A FAMILY.
I HAVE THREE CHILDREN.
SEVEN GRANDCHILDREN.
GREAT GRANDCHILDREN.
SO I CAN'T COMPLAIN.
>> I HAVE GREAT CHILDREN.
OH, I DID NOT KNOW YOU WERE
HERE.
MY GRANDDAUGHTER.
>> ALL MY GRANDCHILDREN.
>> AND THIS LITTLE ONE.
>> WE HAVE GRANDSONS AND ONE
GRANDDAUGHTER.
FOUR GREAT GRANDSONS.
>> YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY.
GIVE YOU A BLESSING.
LIVE.
>> LIVE.
AND BE HAPPY.
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
IN LIFE.

>> LIFE LEADS YOU.
YOU ARE PUT PLACES THAT YOU HAVE
A CHANCE TO SURVIVE.
IS IT GOOD OR BAD?
GOD KNOWS.
>> YOU THINK A NEW GENERATION --

>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE
BY
JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH,
SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,
THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA
PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMITISM.
BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ,
ROSALIND P. WALTER,
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,
AND BY --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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