I have been home for four days from all my summer activities. I am still sorting through pictures, videos and trying- with some difficulty- to resume my life at home.
Today, was a special day spent with special people. I went into NYC ,along with my husband Tom, and met up with Mitch Polay, ( From the Teacher's trip) and my good friend Carol, to see "A Film Unfinished." The film is a documentary of the Warsaw ghetto, which was filmed by the Nazi's for the purpose of propaganda, to falsely show that many Jews were doing well. The film combines the footage that some of us have already seen with the newly discovered footage that may have ended up on the cutting room floor. The footage includes actual glimpses of the cameramen ( they were unaware their images were captured on film). It is obvious that the scenes were staged and were often done in 2 or 3 takes until they 'got it right.' Looking at the faces of the people it is obvious they are looking at a camera and are being instructed how to look, where to look, etc. The images are chilling and disturbing. The narration of the director, Yael Hersonskii is profound and chilling. My husband was particularly moved by the survivors who are individually watching the film. The fact that they have to,in some cases, cover their eyes, and are moved beyond tears brings them to say that during that time they felt nothing, they were often numb to the corpses in the street and the starvation, and disease all around them, but now they can cry, and it is too unbearable to watch. One survivor comments that this means that she is now a human being again- something she feels she was not during that time- she was only 8 or 9. The head of the Judenrat, Adam Czerniakow wrote diaries that were discovered. Portions of the diary are read during the film to correspond with the actual filming he is referring to in his diary entries. He later committed suicide with a cyanide capsule he kept. There is also testimony of one of the cameramen that has been discovered and adds to the depth of this film.
The one scene that I was affected by was a staged scene of what appears to be a 'well to do Jewish person' standing next to a Jew who is obviously poor, starving and near death. The comparison was to falsely try to say that some Jews were doing well in the ghetto. One pair of people, two women, the one who is suppose to be well to do appears obviously uncomfortable and disturbed, on the verge of tears, and we can tell the 'director' gives her instructions and she turns to the camera and tries to look wide eyed.
Looking at this film and seeing the dead Jews being dumped into a mass grave in the cemetery where we were in Warsaw was particularly poignant. It was not overgrown( as it is today), the gates to the cemetery are the same. Some of the streets in the Ghetto are the same ones we walked on. Many of the places were pointed out to us by Waslaw, and when the walls of the ghetto were shown up close, I wondered if that that the part of the wall I touched.
Please see the movie- and let me know what you think.