SPECIAL EDITION: “WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY”

Encore: September 18, 2020

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.

TRANSCRIPT

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 Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019