SPECIAL EDITION: “WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY”

January 28, 2020 at 5:30 am

In November 1940, days after the Nazis sealed 450,000 Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, a secret band of community leaders decided to fight back. Their code name was the Oyneg Shabes, and they vowed to fight Nazi lies and propaganda, not with guns but with pen and paper. In “Who Will Write Our History” filmmakers Nancy Spielberg and Roberta Grossman tell the story of these resistance fighters.

Aired on December 11, 2019 and January 2 & 27, 2020.

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GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS."
I'M JACK FORD.
IN NOVEMBER, 1940, DAYS AFTER
THE NAZIS SEALED SOME 450,000
Y
JEWS INSIDE THE WARSAW GHETTO,
LEADERS LED BY HISTORIAN EMANUEL
RINGLEBLOOM DIED TO DEFEAT NOT
WITH GUNS AND FIST BUT WITH PEN
AND PAPER.
THEY RISKED THEIR LIVES TO
CREATE A SECRET ARCHIVE
CONTAINING POSTERS, DIARIES,
ESSAYS, JOKES, POEMS AND SONGS
TO RECORD THE JEWISH PERSPECTIVE
OF LIFE UNDER NAZI RULE.
NOW FILMMAKERS NANCY SPIELBERG
AND ROBERTA GROSSMAN TELL THEIR
STORY IN THE DOCUMENTARY "WHO
WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY."
TAKE A LOOK.
§
>> SOMEWHERE, YEARS AGO, THERE
WAS A MOTHER WHO KNEW HER SON
WAS THE CLEVEREST, THE MOST
TALENTED, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL.
AND NOW THE BRIGHTEST AND MOST
BEAUTIFUL CHILD IN THE WORLD
LIES IN A STREAM STREET AND HIS
NAME ISN'T EVEN KNOWN.
>> SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE WORST
COMING.
BUT WE DID NOT WANT TO KNOW THE
TRUTH.
WE DID NOT WANT TO SEE IT.
>> DOES THE WORLD KNOW ABOUT OUR
SUFFERING.
>> HE UNDERSTOOD HE HAD A STORY
IT TELL AND IT WAS THE MOST
IMPORTANT STORY HE WOULD EVER
HAVE TO TELL.
>> ALMOST ALL OF THE PHOTOGRAPHY
WE HAVE WAS TAKEN BY THE GERMAN
PROPAGANDA UNIT.
>> THE GERMANS, WILL THEY WRITE
OUR HISTORY OR WE WILL WRITE OUR
HISTORY?
>> LET THE WITNESS BE OUR
WRITING.
>> THEIR GOAL WAS TO WRITE THE
HISTORY OF THE WAR FROM THE
JEWISH PERSPECTIVE.
AND THERE WAS NO TIME TO LOSE.
>> THE WORST SCENARIO WAS IN THE
PROCESS OF HAPPENING.
>> WRITING BECOMES THE ONLY
RECOURSE.
THAT WAS THE ULTIMATE ACT OF
DEFIANCE.
>> YOU DON'T REALLY NEED GUNS TO
FIGHT, YOU COULD FIGHT WITH
PAPER AND PEN.
>> THIS IS WHAT MADE THIS
COLLECTION OF DOCUMENTS SO
ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE.
>> ONE THING IS CLEAR TO ALL OF
US, OUR DEVOTION AND CONSTANT
TERROR HAD NOT BEEN IN VAIN
AMONG THOSE TAKEN AWAY WAS THE
RABBI.
>> ISRAEL.
>> HELENIA.
>> EMANUELIA.
>> REMEMBER, MY NAME IS NAHOME.
>> I AM WRITING THIS AS A
WITNESS.
>> AND JOINING US NOW WITH MORE
ON THIS IS THE FILM'S EXECUTIVE
PRODUCER, NANCY SPIELBERG.
AND THE FILM'S WRITER, DIRECTOR
AND PRODUCER, ROBERTA GROSSMAN.
WELCOME TO BOTH OF YOU.
I MENTIONED TO YOU BEFORE AND I
WON'T SAY IT AGAIN ON THE AIR,
IT IS A BREATHTAKING FILM.
IT DOES WHAT YOU WANT FILMS TO
DO.
IT GRABS YOU, IT MAKES YOU
THINK, AND IN SOME WAYS IT
HAUNTS YOU.
SO LET ME START WITH -- THE
QUESTION I OFTEN ASK TO
FILMMAKERS, WHERE DID YOU GET
THE IDEA FROM AND WHY DID YOU
DECIDE THIS WAS THE TIME TO DO
IT?
>> I'M GOING TO THROW THAT TO --
>> ROBERTA, YOU START.
>> SHE STARTED THIS WHOLE MESS.
>> SO, I READ A REVIEW OF SAM
CASSELL'S BOOK "COOL RIDER
HISTORY" AND I WAS SHOCKED
BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW THE STORY
AND I HAVE SPENT MY WHOLE LIFE
READING AND LEARNING ABOUT THE
HOLOCAUST.
AND ONCE I WAS TEN PAGES INTO
SAM'S BOOK, I REALIZED THIS WAS
THE MOST IMPORTANT UNKNOWN STORY
OF THE HOLOCAUST, AS
IMPORTANT -- I THINK OF THE
ARCHIVE AS THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS
COMING OUT OF THE RUBBLE OF THE
DESTROYED GHETTO, BUT INSTEAD OF
A BEAUTIFUL MUSEUM LIKE WE HAVE
FOR THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS, THE
ARCHIVE HAD REMAINED PRETTY MUCH
BURIED, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS TAKEN
OUT OF THE GROUND, WE DON'T KNOW
ABOUT IT.
THE FILM IS THE BEST WAY TO GET
THE STORY TOLD.
>> WHY DO YOU THINK, WHY DO YOU
THINK WE DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT IT?
>> IT IS FUNNY.
WHEN ROBERTA FIRST TOLD ME ABOUT
THIS -- THE PROJECT, AND SHE
TALKED ABOUT THE SECRET BURIED
ARCHIVES, I THOUGHT ALSO, GREAT
STORY.
ALMOST INDIANA JONES.
BUT PART OF IT WAS THIS -- WAS
BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN.
AND THERE WASN'T MONEY TO REALLY
HANDLE THE MATERIAL PROPERLY
ONCE IT WAS UNEARTHED AND A LOT
OF IT WAS IN, YOU KNOW, BAD
STATE BECAUSE OF WATER DAMAGE
AND THINGS LIKE THAT.
SO UNTIL WE COULD HAVE ACCESS TO
IT, AND UNTIL THE -- I SAY
PEOPLE, MONEY CAME IN TO TRY TO
PRESERVE THE PAPERS, IT WAS VERY
LOW PROFILE.
AND ALSO, I THINK WE TALKED
ABOUT THIS, IS THAT MAYBE IT
WASN'T THE TIME.
RIGHT AFTER THESE DOCUMENTS WERE
FOUND, IT WAS STILL A TIME WHERE
PEOPLE WERE TALKING TO THE
SURVIVORS.
AND THE ARCHIVE IS FULL OF THE
TRUTH AND SOME OF THE TRUTHS
WERE UGLY.
AND TALKS ABOUT, YOU KNOW, THE
JEWISH POLICE THAT TURNED PEOPLE
IN AND THINGS THAT NOBODY REALLY
WANTED TO PAY ATTENTION TO.
AT THE TIME MORE ABOUT
CELEBRATING OR APPRECIATING OR
RESPECTING THE SURVIVOR, THE NOT
DELVING INTO THE DIRTY STUFF AND
SO MAYBE IT NEEDED SOME DISTANCE
FOR PEOPLE TO LOOK AT THE WHOLE
SCOPE.
>> SO WHEN I'M WATCHING THIS,
I'M GOING BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN
A SENSE THAT I'M WATCHING A
DOCUMENTARY, TRADITIONAL
DOCUMENTARY, IN THE SENSE I'M IN
THE MIDST OF A FEATURE FILM.
WHY DECIDE TO DO THAT IN A
DIFFERENT FASHION, I WOULD
THINK.
AND -- BUT A FASHION THAT WAS
VERY EFFECTIVE.
BUT DIFFERENT.
WHY?
>> THERE SAY COUPLE OF REASONS.
ONE, EVERYTHING OF THE ARCHIVAL
MATERIAL WE HAVE SEEN OF THE
GHETTO, EVERYTHING THAT EXISTS,
THE FOOTAGE, WERE ALL TAKEN BY
NAZI PROPAGANDA UNITS IN THE
GHETTO.
IT IS ALREADY SUSPECT BECAUSE
THEY WERE SHOOTING IN THE
GHETTO, TO SHOW THE JEWS IN THE
WORST POSSIBLE LIGHT.
IT WAS ALL IN THE STREETS.
THERE IS NOTHING IN PEOPLE'S
HOMES, NOTHING TO TELL THE
ARCHIVE OF HOW IT WAS FORMED,
THE RISK THEY TOOK, WHAT THEY
COLLECTED.
AND SO I THINK SOMEONE IS
TURNING THE BASIC ASSUMPTIONS ON
ITS HEAD, WE THINK OF ARCHIVAL
MATERIAL AS ACCURATE AND TRUE,
UNASSAILABLE.
AND WE THINK OF DRAMATIZATIONS
AS BEING SOMEWHAT SUSPECT.
THIS TURNS IT ON ITS HEAD.
THE ARCHIVAL MATERIAL AND THE
DRAMATIZATIONS ARE ALL BASED
WORD FOR WORD ON THE WRITINGS
FROM THE ARCHIVES.
WE WENT TO GREAT LENGTHS TO HAVE
THOSE TWO THINGS LIVE TOGETHER,
DRAMA AND EVERYTHING HAD TO
VEIGHAVE
A LOT OF GRAVITAS.
THE DRAMATIC ELEMENTS ARE ALL
CAREFULLY RESEARCHED.
OUR PRODUCTION DESIGN TEAM
LOOKED WITH SCHOLARS FOR TICHL
MO
SIX MONTHS BEFORE WE ARRIVED.
IT WAS KIND OF INSANE.
SO OVERARCHING GOAL WAS TO HAVE
THE FILM HAVE THE GRAVITAS OF A
DOCUMENTARY AND THE EMOTIONAL
PULSE TO BRING AUDIENCES IN.
OF A DRAMATIC FEATURE.
>> ALSO THERE IS SUCH LIMITED
ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE.
AND THERE IS NOBODY LEFT ALIVE
FROM THAT GROUP TO TELL THE
STORY.
AND YOU KNOW THOSE ARE THE
CHALLENGES OF MAKING HISTORICAL
DOCUMENTARIES, BUT I THINK WE
SEE IT ALSO AS A HUGE
RESPONSIBILITY, BECAUSE IF WE'RE
TACKLING A TOPIC LIKE THIS,
THERE IS NO CREATIVE LICENSE.
WE'RE NOT ALLOWED.
NOT IN THIS -- WE'RE TRYING TO
PRESERVE A PIECE OF HISTORY, YOU
KNOW, REALLY LIKE CROSSING ALL
THE Ts, DOTTING ALL THE Is AND
ROBERTA, WE FIRST MET AND WE
STARTED WORKING TOGETHER, IT WAS
REALLY BECAUSE SHE HANDLED THESE
DRAMATIZATIONS SO BEAUTIFULLY.
>> LET'S TALK MORE ABOUT THE
CONTENT HERE.
AND HOW THIS GROUP CAME TO BE.
AND WHAT IT WAS THAT THEY
BELIEVED THAT THEIR MISSION WAS.
>> WELL, AND I'LL LET ROBERTA
ANSWER A LOT OF THIS, BUT
EMANUEL RINGLEBLOOM WAS AN
ACTIVIST, VERY INVOLVED, ONE OF
THE FOUNDERS OF EVIL AND WHEN HE
SAW WHAT WAS HAPPENING, WHEN
THERE WAS A REALIZATION OF WHAT
WAS HAPPENING, HIS DOCUMENTARY,
HISTORICAL, YOU KNOW, THE WAY HE
WENT ABOUT DOCUMENTING AND
REPORTING THINGS KICKED INTO
GEAR.
THAT IT WAS GOING TO BE A
REPORT.
IT WAS GOING TO HAVE ALL THE
RIGHT FACTS, BUT IT NEEDED A
VARIETY OF PEOPLE IN THAT MIX.
SO IT WOULDN'T BE ONE -- SKEWED,
YOU KNOW, WHETHER -- THE GROUP
THAT HE PUT TOGETHER INVOLVED
RELIGIOUS AND NOT RELIGIOUS AND
SOCIALISTS AND ALL -- FROM ALL
WALKS OF LIFE.
SO THAT ALTOGETHER, YOU KNOW,
EVERYBODY'S POINT OF VIEW WOULD
BE SHOWN.
SO I THINK THAT IS HOW HE
ORIGINALLY SAW HIS ROLE.
>> WHEN YOU LOOK AT IT, I WOULD
THINK IF HE WAS LOOKING AT THIS,
AS HE'S GOING TO RECORD HISTORY,
DOCUMENT WHAT WAS TAKING PLACE,
AS YOU SAID, HE WANTED TO MAKE
SURE THAT IT WASN'T THE NAZI
PROPAGANDA FILMS THAT WERE
DESIGNED TO DEHUMANIZE AND
VICTIMIZE, THEY WANTED TO SHOW
WHAT LIFE WAS REALLY LIKE.
BUT THEY MUST HAVE BELIEVED THAT
THIS WAS NOT GOING TO END WELL
FOR THEM.
>> THE GOAL EVOLVED OVER TIME.
WHEN THEY FIRST BEGAN, THEY MET
EIGHT DAYS AFTER THE GHETTO WAS
SEALED AND JEWS COULDN'T GO IN
OR OUT.
THEIR INITIAL GOAL AND I LEARNED
THIS FROM SAM CASSELL, THE
ORIGINAL GOAL WAS TO COLLECT THE
RAW MATERIALS, THE PRIMARY
DOCUMENTS FROM WHICH THEY AND
OTHERS WOULD WRITE THE HISTORY
OF THE WAR AFTER THE WAR FROM
THE JEWISH POINT OF VIEW.
AND THEN AS THINGS -- AS THE
BOTTOM BEGAN TO DROP OUT AND
THINGS GOT WORSE AND WORSE AND
WORSE, THE GOALS CHANGED.
THEY BECAME PART OF THEIR GOAL
BECAME TO DOCUMENT NAZI CRIMES,
AND THEN WHEN THEY REALIZED THAT
MASS JENGENOCIDE WAS HAPPENING,E
GOAL WAS RESCUE TO DOCUMENT WHAT
WAS HAPPENING AND TO SNEAK OUT,
REALLY WELL DOCUMENTED MATERIAL
FOR THE POLISH UNDERGROUND IN
HOPES OF RESCUE.
ULTIMATELY THEY KNEW THAT THEY
WERE ALL GOING TO MOSTLY LIKELY
ALL GOING TO DIE, THEIR GOAL WAS
TO SOMEHOW PRESERVE THE TRUTH SO
THAT AFTER THE WAR, WHEN IT WAS
DUG UP, THEY WOULD BE REMEMBERED
AS INDIVIDUALS AND THE STORY
COULD BE TOLD FROM THE JEWISH
POINT OF VIEW AND THEY ALSO
BELIEVE THAT WHAT THEY HAD
RECORDED IN THE DEPTHS AND
BREADTH TO WHICH THEY RECORDED
THINGS, THAT WHEN THAT WAS DUG
UP AND PEOPLE READ WHAT WENT ON
THIS KIND OF THING WOULD NEVER
HAPPEN AGAIN.
>> WANT TO GO BACK TO THE
QUESTION I ASKED BEFORE, WHY
NOW?
PEOPLE ARE MENTIONING
SCHINDLER'S LIST.
THAT WAS 25 YEARS AGO, WHICH WAS
ASTONISHING TO ME.
THE FACT WE STILL NEED TO BE
HAVING THESE CONVERSATIONS.
>> MAYBE EVEN MORE SO.
SEEMS LIKE THINGS HAVE GOTTEN A
LOT WORSE IN THE LAST 25 YEARS.
>> YEAH.
>> THE RISE OF ANTI-SEMITISM,
RIGHT NOW IT IS -- I JUST SAID
SOMEBODY SHOULD CHART HOW MANY
ATTACKS THERE ARE ON A DAILY
BASIS AND PUT IT ON THE
CALENDAR.
BECAUSE I THINK IT WOULD BE
SHOCKED.
IF I DON'T PICK UP ANYTHING
WITHOUT SEEING EVERY SINGLE DAY
SOMETHING HAPPENED.
AND THE MORE IT HAPPENS, IT
BECOMES COMMONPLACE AND
ACCEPTABLE.
>> THERE ARE OTHER PARALLELS AS
WELL AND OTHER -- WE COULD NOT
HAVE KNOWN WHEN WE STARTED THE
FILM NOW EIGHT YEARS AGO THAT
THE STORY ABOUT A GROUP OF
PEOPLE WILLING TO DIE FOR THE
TRUTH WOULD COME OUT OF THE TIME
WHEN AROUND THE WORLD PROPAGANDA
AND LIES ARE BEING USED AS A
POLITICAL TOOL FOR THOSE WHO
WANT MORE AND MORE CONTROL, MORE
AND MORE POWER, AND THE TOP OF
GOVERNMENTS TO USE.
SO IT IS VERY, VERY RELEVANT
AND -- OR THAT, YOU KNOW, AS
ELIE WIESEL SAID, THE HOLOCAUST
DIDN'T START WITH GUNS, IT
STARTED WITH WORDS.
OLD TECHNIQUE OF DEMONIZING THE
OTHER, WHOEVER THE OTHER IS, YOU
KNOW, IS GOING ON A LOT, ALL
OVER THE WORLD.
SO IT IS NOT JUST ANTI-SEMITISM
THAT WE NEED TO BE AWARE OF.
>> WE READ AN ARTICLE AND IT WAS
SORT OF A SHOCKING ARTICLE THAT
RUBIN PRESS, FAKE NEWS WAS A
TERM USED WAY BACK THEN AND THE
TERM HITLER USED VERY FREQUENTLY
WHEN HE WAS BEING ATTACKED IN
THE PRESS.
SO, YOU KNOW, OF COURSE, THAT'S
IN OUR FACE NOW QUITE A BIT.
CAN'T HELP BUT PUT THOSE --
>> IMPORTANT TOOL, THE PEOPLE
THAT DID ALL THE PROPAGANDA FOR
HITLER AND IF WE SAY IT, WE SAY
IT OFTEN ENOUGH, PEOPLE WILL
BELIEVE IT.
>> YEAH.
>> ESPECIALLY ABOUT THE OTHERS.
I'M STRUCK BY SO MUCH -- AS
YOU'RE WATCHING IT, AND THIS
DRAMATIC COURSE, AGAIN, YOU FEEL
LIKE THE SUSPENSE IS THERE AS
YOU'RE WATCHING THIS STORY
UNFOLD.
AND THEN YOU HAVE INTERSPERSED
WITH IT THE WRITINGS AND THE
WORDS FROM THEM.
AND THEY ARE AT ONCE EXQUISITE,
THE CALIBER OF THE WRITING AND
YET SO FRIGHTENINGLY PAINFUL.
I REMEMBER THE ONE, THE
19-YEAR-OLD, DAVID GHRAIBER, AND
IN HIS LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT,
THE FACT THEY'RE WRITING THEIR
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT, AT 19,
AND HE TALKS ABOUT SOMETHING,
WHAT WE HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO CRY
OUT AND TO SHRIEK ABOUT WHAT'S
BEEN DONE TO US.
>> WE'RE NOT AFRAID OF THE RISK.
WHAT WE WERE UNABLE TO CRY AND
SHRIEK OUT TO THE WORLD, BURIED
IN THE GROUND, I WOULD LOVE TO
LIVE TO SEE THE MOMENT IN WHICH
THE GREAT TREASURE WILL BE DUG
UP AND SCREAM THE TRUTH AT THE
WORLD.
>> I'M CURIOUS, PERSONALLY AS
YOU'RE DISCOVERING THIS AND
PUTTING THIS ALTOGETHER, WHAT
IMPACT DID IT HAVE ON YOU
PERSONALLY?
>> WELL, FOR ME, YOU KNOW, THIS
IS GOING TO SOUND VERY CLICHE,
IT IS DIFFICULT MATERIAL, BUT
I'VE BEEN ENGAGED WITH THIS KIND
OF MATERIAL FOR ALL OF MY LIFE.
SO I'M NOT UNUSED TO DEALING
WITH THE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT
SUBJECT OF THE HOLOCAUST.
I FELT SO HONORED AND SO LUCKY
TO BE ABLE TO TELL THE STORY OF
RI
RINGLEBLOOM AND BE ABLE TO BRING
THESE AMAZING WRITERS AND PEOPLE
FORWARD THAT THAT WAS THE
OVERARCHING FEELING I HAD.
NOT LIKE, THIS IS SUCH DIFFICULT
MATERIAL, THIS IS, YOU KNOW,
IMPACTING MY -- WHATEVER, MY --
>> PSYCHE.
>> MY JUICE.
MY FRESH JUICE, COLD PRESSED
JUICE.
INSTEAD I FELT THIS WAS A SENSE
OF ENGAGEMENT AND MISSION AND
THE SENSE OF -- THAT I WAS LUCKY
TO BE IN THE POSITION TO TELL
THEIR STORY.
>> AND I COME FROM A WHOLE
DIFFERENT PLACE.
MY FAMILY GREW UP IN ARIZONA, MY
PARENTS WERE BORN IN CINCINNATI,
GRANDPARENTS BORN IN CINCINNATI.
NOT -- I DIDN'T REALLY KNOW MUCH
ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST.
I THINK REALLY THE MOST I EVER
LEARNED ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST WAS
WHEN MY BROTHER DID SCHINDLER'S
LIST, WHICH IS EMBARRASSING,
BECAUSE THAT MEANS ONLY 25 YEARS
AGO I WOKE UP.
BUT, I KNEW SOME, I DIDN'T KNOW
A LOT, I DIDN'T GROW UP IN A
HOUSEHOLD WHERE IT WAS A
DISCUSSION, NEITHER DID YOU.
YOU JUST WERE OBSESSED WITH IT.
PARENTS ARE AMERICAN BORN.
>> RIGHT.
>> I THINK WHEN I STARTED TO
LEARN AND WHEN I SAW WHAT
HAPPENED WITH SCHINDLER'S LIST,
AND THEN AFTER THAT, THE SHOAH
FOUNDATION, THE TESTIMONY COMING
THROUGH, UP ONE OF THE BIGGEST
LESSONS I LEARNED IS WE NEED TO
RECORD THE PEOPLE THAT LIVED
THESE EXPERIENCES BECAUSE WE
WILL HAVE NOTHING TO PASS ON TO
OUR KIDS.
>> YOU MENTIONED STEVEN
SPIELBERG AND DOING SCHINDLER'S
LIST AND WE TALKED ABOUT
ENGAGING WITH HISTORY.
AND I JUST WANT TO SHOW A QUICK
CLIP WE DID WITH YOUR BROTHER
STEVEN SPEAKING AT THE UNITED
NATIONS ABOUT THIS NEED TO
ENGAGE WITH HISTORY.
>> THE SURVIVORS POWERFUL
DETERMINATION TO CONTRIBUTE TO A
FUTURE WITHOUT GENOCIDE DOESN'T
COME FROM LEAVING THE HOLOCAUST
BEHIND, FROM ESCAPING HISTORY,
THEIR DETERMINED DEMAND IS WE
ENGAGE FULLY WITH HISTORY, THAT
THE HOLOCAUST REMAIN WITH US, IN
MEMORY.
THERE IS WHERE JOURNEYS INTO THE
HOLOCAUST.
THEY CANNOT EMERGE FROM IT.
AND NEITHER CAN THE WORLD UNTIL
THERE ARE NO MORE GENOCIDES,
UNTIL THE UNTHINKABLE BECOMES
IMPOSSIBLE.
>> I DID AN INTERVIEW HERE ON
THE PROGRAM, WITH THE RABBI, AND
HE WAS TALKING ABOUT THIS SORT
OF DELICATE BALANCE, HE FELT, HE
HAD TO ENGAGE IN, IN TALKING
WITH HIS YOUNGER
CONGREGATIONISTS, WHERE HE SAID
I DON'T WANT TO FEEL LIKE I'M
CONSTANTLY HAMMERING THEM WITH
THE HOLOCAUST.
HE SAID, AND YET I -- WE NEED
THEM TO KNOW ABOUT IT.
AND TO HAVE -- AND, YOU KNOW, TO
UNDERSCORE SOMETHING WE TALKED
ABOUT BEFORE, RECENT STUDIES
SHOWING THE MAJORITY OF
MILLENNIALS DON'T KNOW WHAT
AUSCHWITZ WAS.
SO WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS SO
IMPORTANT FOR US TO ENGAGE IN
HISTORY.
>> FIRST OF ALL, PERHAPS WHAT
STEVEN WAS SPEAKING ABOUT IN
PART IS THE RESPONSIBILITY THAT
WE HAVE TO THE PEOPLE WHO
PERISHED IN SUCH A HORRIBLE WAY,
TO REMEMBER THEM.
THAT ACTUALLY ALL OF JEWISH --
MOST JEWISH HOLIDAYS ARE
REMEMBERING.
REMEMBERING THE EXODUS,
REMEMBERING THIS, REMEMBERING
THAT.
SO THERE IS SOMETHNG SACRED IN
REMEMBERING PEOPLE, REMEMBERING
YOUR ANCESTORS, REMEMBERING
EVENTS, OF COURSE, SUPPOSEDLY
THE INSTRUCTIVE NATURE OF
HISTORY.
BUT THERE WAS A WOMAN WHO RINGO
BLOOM ASKED TO GO OUT INTO THE
STREET, DURING THE GREAT
DEPORTATION, WHEN 400,000

JEWS WERE GRABBED OFF THE
STREETS AND SENT TO THEIR DEATHS
AND THIS WOMAN WAS A MEMBER,
LOOSELY ASSOCIATED MEMBER, VERY
GOOD WRITER AND WORKS FOR THE
JEWISH GOVERNMENT AND THE
GHETTO, SHE HAS A CERTAIN PAST
HE FELT WOULD PROTECT HER AND
ALLOW HER TO BE IN THE STREET.
HE SAID GO OUT INTO THE STREET
AND OBSERVE WHAT IS GOING ON,
AND SHE -- IT WAS JUST TOO
HORRIBLE, YOU KNOW?
PEOPLE, FAMILIES BEING
SEPARATED, PEOPLE BEING GRABBED
BY THE JEWISH POLICE, BY NAZIS,
BY POLISH AUXILIARIES, AND
DRAGGED AWAY TO THE TRAINS AND
ULTIMATELY TO THEIR DEATHS, AND
SHE SAID SHE WAS WRITING THIS
REPORT, THIS EYEWITNESS REPORT
AND SHE HOPED IT WOULD BE USED
AS A STONE UNDER HISTORY'S
WHEEL.
SO HER THOUGHT WAS THAT IF WE
COULD REALLY LOOK AT THIS AND
REMEMBER IT AND KNOW IT
HAPPENED, MAYBE THAT WHEEL OF
DESTRUCTION WOULDN'T HAPPEN
AGAIN.
>> AND I THINK, LISTEN, AS TO,
YOU KNOW, WE CAN'T START WITH
THE CLEAN SLATE.
WE HAVE TO HOLD ON TO OUR
HISTORY BECAUSE IT IS JUST, YOU
KNOW, OTHERWISE, AS THEY SAY,
DOOMED TO REPEAT IT.
>> TALK ABOUT THE BURIAL, AND
THREE DIFFERENT LOCATIONS, BUT
TALK ABOUT THE FIRST -- THE
DISCOVERY OF THE FIRST CACHE.
>> SO THE WARSAW GHETTO WAS
DESTROYED INTO REUBBLE.
AND THEN IN 1944, THE POLISH
UPRISING AND THE GERMANS
FINISHED OFF THE CITY OF WARSAW
AFTER THAT, AND THEY -- AERIAL
BOMBING, FLATTENED THE CITY AND
REALLY THE END OF THE WAR,
ALMOST NOBODY WAS LIVING IN
WARSAW.
THERE WAS NO PLACE TO LIVE.
AND RACHEL AUERBACH, SHE WAS ONE
OF THE THREE MEMBERS WHO
SURVIVED, SHE WAS INSTRUMENTAL
IN INSISTING THAT THE ARCHIVE BE
FOUND BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO
IMAGINE THAT AMONG THE FEW
SURVIVORS THEY HAD OTHER
PRIORITIES LIKE, YOU KNOW, THEIR
FAMILIES, THEIR CHILDREN AND
WIVES AND MOTHERS AND FATHERS
AND HOW THEY WERE GOING TO LIVE,
HOW TO DEAL WITH THE
PSYCHOLOGICAL -- BUT THREE YEARS
AFTER THE WARSAW GHETTO UPRISING
IN '46, IT WAS IN '43, 1946
THERE WAS A GATHERING TO
COMMEMORATE THE WARSAW GHETTO
UPRISING, GATHERING OF SURVIVORS
AND SPEECHES, AND RACHEL
AUERBACH SAID ENOUGH SPEECHES,
ENOUGH TALK, THERE IS A TREASURE
BURIED AND I WON'T REST UNTIL WE
FIND IT.
SHE WAS THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND
FINDING IT.
ONE PERSON WAS ALIVE WHO KNEW
WHERE THE ARCHIVE WAS BURIED.
HE SURVIVED BY THE SLIMMEST OF
MARGINS, JUMPED OFF THE TRAIN
AND USING THE SPIRAL OF A
STANDING CHURCH, AND USING
AERIAL MAPS FROM BEFORE THE WAR,
THEY WERE ABLE TO FIGURE OUT
WHERE THAT ADDRESS, WHERE HE
KNEW IT WAS BURIED WAS AND
THAT'S WHERE THEY STARTED TO DIG
AND FOUND THE FIRST CACHE.
>> I SAW IT DESCRIBED AS AN
ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXPEDITION,
TRYING TO FIND SOMETHING YOU
KNEW EXISTED AT SOME POINT, BUT
THERE ARE NO MARKERS, NO --
NOTHING THAT WOULD LEAD YOU TO
THAT.
>> RIGHT.
AND THE SECOND CACHE WAS FOUND
BY ACCIDENT.
SO THERE WERE CONSTRUCTION
WORKERS, REBUILDING THE CITY,
AND A LOT OF THE BELIEF WAS IF
ANYBODY HIT UPON A BOX -- A
METAL BOX OR MILK CAN, IT WAS
WHERE THE JEWS BURIED THE GOLD
AND DIAMONDS WHEN THEY WERE
FLEEING.
>> NOT OPENING IT UP AND
TRASHING IT, BECAUSE IT WASN'T
GOLD AND JEWELRY.
>> AND THIS GROUP WAS ABOUT TO
TRASH IT, BUT THEIR FOREMAN SAID
WAIT A MINUTE, HE SAID I KNOW
WHAT THAT IS, IT TURNS OUT HE
HAD A JEWISH GIRLFRIEND IN THE
GHETTO AND HE HAD HELPED HER
SMUGGLE PAPERS, SO HE SAVED
THOSE PAPERS FROM BEING
DESTROYED.
>> AND THE THIRD STILL --
>> THERE WAS AN ATTEMPT, TEN
YEARS AGO.
TO DIG UNDER THE CHINESE
EMBASSY.
I THINK SAM TALKED ABOUT THIS,
THEY SAID THERE WAS A COUPLE
REMNANTS OF PAPER, BUT EITHER
WAS COMPLETELY DESTROYED, MAYBE
IT WAS LOOTED AND THEN DESTROYED
OR POSSIBLY WEREN'T DIGGING IN
THE RIGHT PLACE.
HE THINKS IT WAS DESTROYED.
CHANCES ARE IT IS NOT THERE.
>> LAST QUESTION FOR BOTH OF
YOU, IT IS ALWAYS -- MAYBE
SOMETIMES A DIFFICULT QUESTION
FOR FILMMAKERS TO ANSWER, BUT
I'LL ASK IT ANYWAY.
THAT IS, WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE
WILL TAKE AWAY FROM THIS?
AFTER THEY HAD A CHANCE TO SIT
DOWN AND WATCH THIS?
>> I HOPE THAT THEY -- THAT THEY
WILL VERY SIMPLY KNOW THE STORY.
AND OUR EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN WE
HAVE SHOWN THE FILM, MAYBE THE
SECOND OR THIRD SCREENING, AFTER
Q&A, I HAD THIS PROFOUND
REALIZATION THAT WHEN THE M
MEMBERS KNEW THEY WERE GOING TO
DIE, THEY HAD TWO PRIMARY
WISHES.
ONE TO BE REMEMBERED AS
INDIVIDUALS AND THE SECOND TO
HAVE THE STORY TOLD FROM THEIR
POINT OF VIEW AND NOT THE POINT
OF VIEW OF THE NAZIS WHO
DESPISED THEM SO MUCH.
WHEN PEOPLE ARE WATCHING THE
FILM, THEY'RE FULFILLING THE
WISHES AND THAT'S BEEN PRETTY
REMARKABLE.
>> YEAH.
REALLY COOL BECAUSE IT BECOMES
AN AUDIENCE EXPERIENCE OF
FULFILLING THAT WISH.
>> RIGHT.
>> AND I DO THINK ALSO IT
PERSONALIZES THE VICTIMS.
AND IN GENOCIDE AND ATROCITIES,
WE DON'T REALLY THINK ABOUT THE
INDIVIDUAL.
WE DON'T THINK --
>> THE MEMBERS ARE SO VAST THAT
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO COMPREHEND.
>> YES, IT IS.
AND I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT
BECAUSE I THINK IT -- IF WE HAVE
EMPATHY, THAT IS A CALL TO
ACTION.
>> ONCE AGAIN, IT -- THE FILM IS
CALLED "WHO WILL WRITE OUR
HISTORY," JUST MAGNIFICENT
FILM-MAKING, COMPELLING STORY,
HAUNTING STORY, THAT MAKES YOU
THINK, WHICH IS WHAT GREAT ART
DOES.
SO ROBERTA AND NANCY, THANK YOU
SO MUCH.
>> THANK YOU.
>> APPRECIATE IT.
CONGRATULATIONS ON GREAT WORK.
>> THANK YOU.
>> THANK YOU TO BOTH OF YOU.
FOR YOU FOLKS, FOR MORE
INFORMATION ON WHO WILL WRITE
OUR HISTORY, VISIT US AT
METROFOCUS.ORG.

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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