Good afternoon, this is the story of Nancy Wake. This is told through a docudrama and her biographers. She was a journalist, spy, and revolutionary. She was a woman who was born lucky. The run time for this documentary is 1:07:47.
Nancy Wake was the Allied Forces’ most daring spy. She was the Gestapo’s most wanted woman in World War II and was codenamed “The White Mouse.” She came from New Zealand and was a drop-dead gorgeous woman. She traveled to France and became a journalist. Nancy struck up many friendships with journalists who protected her as she reported. She enjoyed life in Paris and the Rivera. Nancy was a woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it.
Nancy Wake’s story kicks off in Paris, where she meets the man who would become the love of her life, Henri. She had left New Zealand, taught herself French, and became a journalist. She would travel to Austria and Berlin to get the story of Adolph Hitler. She wanted to get the story firsthand and she felt sick to her stomach with what she witnessed. What she saw with Nazism, reviled her. Then she goes to Austria and sees how the Jews are being treated.
Eventually, she returned to France and married Henri. The next section of this docudrama talks about that marriage to Henri. Henri’s father did not approve of the marriage. The pair made the best of her father’s disapproval. Her marriage to Henri catapulted her into a higher social status. She could have milk baths and had a household staff of five people. Life was good for Nancy in France, at least until Germany invaded France.
Nancy threw herself into the war effort and started driving ambulances. She had the means to support the war, but she wanted more action. Driving ambulances provided that action for her. Eventually, France surrendered to the Germans. Only one man refused to consent to surrender and he fled to England. General Charles de Gaulle gave a rousing speech against the Nazi occupiers. Nancy soon became involved with the French Resistance. Slowly but surely, she became more involved in the French Resistance. Henri did not like her becoming involved with the French Resistance. He worried about her safety and he did not want to lose her.
She was not fearful of being caught. She was a beautiful woman who could be a distraction for the German soldiers. She never thought about the consequences of her actions. She helped soldiers escape from France. She felt that every soldier smuggled out was a thorn in the flesh to Hitler. The French Resistance had a high degree of organization.
There were times that she was the Nazis came close to catching her. However every time she was corner she escaped. Her instincts were going off. Henri encouraged her to escape, but she did not want to escape without him. He insisted and she went to left France. Escaping France was a challenge and it took her three months to leave France. She eventually made her way to England. Once in England, she started training for Special Operations. The training proved to be a challenge and Nancy came through training well. She would go back to France after she was trained.
Once back in France she would sabotage German forces and their French Allies. She parachuted into France as part of Special Operations and met up with the French Resistance. The first order of business was to get in touch with the radio operator. The radio operator was late. The second order of business was getting in touch with the resistance leader: Gaspar. Gaspar would come to her. Eventually, she would meet up with Gaspar. What would happen during this first meeting? How would these efforts at sabotage help with the D-Day Invasion? What would happen to Henri after she left? How would the Nazis take their revenge against the Resistance fighters? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out.
This is a cool documentary about the French Resistance and Nancy Wake. Even though it is a long docudrama this would be one drama I would consider showing to a history class during the World War II section.
Sophie Scholl was a woman who fought back against the Nazis during World War II. Her childhood was ordinary. She had two brothers and two sisters. Her father was the mayor of a small town. Eventually, the family moved and the family had only each other to rely on. As a child, she joined the Hitler Youth but would eventually she would turn against Hitler. What were the events that turned her against Hitler? Why did she turn against Hitler? The run time for this documentary is 51:09.
Sophie’s story starts with a trip to the stationer’s shop with a friend. She is looking to purchase paper. She requests one thousand sheets of paper. Her friend is shocked by the request. The shopkeeper assumes that she is purchasing the paper to write her love. He does not have one thousand sheets but brings Sophie one hundred sheets due to rationing. Sophie purchases the paper and shoves them in her bag. Her friend is immediately suspicious about the purchase. Sophie challenges her friend by stating that if the men will not rise up against Hitler, then the woman would.
Then Sophie’s story flashes back to her childhood. She talks about her father the mayor and how they moved. Hitler came into power and Sophie and her siblings were thrilled with Hitler. Their parents were nervous about Hitler. Sophie’s father was a pacificist and her mother was a devoted woman. One by one Sophie’s siblings joined the Hitler Youth. Eventually, Sophie joined the Hitler Youth. Her father was unhappy with his children joining the Hitler Youth. Sophie’s siblings argue with her father over why the Hitler Youth was a good thing. Her father is skeptical.
Sophie moved up the ranks in the Hitler Youth. However, she still loved music, dancing, and boys. She and the young people would meet up at a friend’s house to listen to music and dance. It was here she would meet a new boy. Things changed when the family received a visit from the Gestapo. The Scholl family house was searched and Sophie and three of her siblings were arrested. They were accused of being part of illegal youth organizations. They were kept in a local jail for questioning. Her brother was in jail for weeks for reading illegal books and listening to illegal music. Sophie was shocked that a government would arrest and imprison children.
Then the war started, and Sophie’s father was right about war coming. Sophie kept up a correspondence with her soldier friend. When he had military leave they would get away. They would go and pass for a married couple. Sophie was recruited to another organization where she and the young woman would be taught the correct way to work. It was terrible and Sophie was forced to work in the agricultural sector.
Eventually, Sophie moved to Munich for university, and a new world was opened to her. Then Hitler invaded Russia and there were failures on the front. Then someone handed her a pamphlet from the organization of the White Rose. She read it and started questioning everything. Soon she discovered that her brother Hans was part of the organization. She wanted to join up with the organization but Hans did not want her to. She eventually did join up with the organization and took part in distributing leaflets.
She distributed leaflets throughout major German cities and even went to Austria. It was risky. They tricked the Gestapo into believing that the network was far and wide. However, the organization had only a handful of students. The Gestapo was determined to find out who was behind the White Rose. The White Rose took on more risks and worked to distribute more leaflets. They had a copy machine and worked to write slogans on buildings. The war continued to go badly for Germany and the losses kept mounting on the Eastern Front. What would happen to Sophie and the White Rose organization? Continue to watch this episode to find out more.
This would be an excellent documentary to share during the World War II section in history. If you have a student doing a biography on Sophie Scholl then I would recommend this documentary.
On December 7th, 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. This attack caught America off guard. During this attack the USS Arizona torpedoed and sunk, killing 1,100 sailors on board. Seventy-five years later a group put together by the National Parks Service is looking to scan the outside and the inside of wreck of the USS Arizona. This documentary talks about the efforts to document the ship as well as talks with the survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack.
It is December 7th, 1941, and Pearl Harbor is under attack. This was an assault nobody saw coming. Everyone was shocked to see that the Japanese were attacking Pearl Harbor. It shocked the men on the ground. Earlier in the day, the Ward had depth-charged a Japanese submarine. Then there were warnings of planes coming in from the north. The sailors thought these planes were coming from the United States. The Japanese also learned that the aircraft carriers were not in Pearl Harbor. They decided to carry on the attack anyway. The Japanese retreated back to the aircraft carriers feeling their attack was a success.
Seventy-five years later, divers and researchers look to map the interiors of the USS Arizona. Before the exploration, little is known about the interiors of the USS Arizona. It is considered a war grave. The wreck is scanned externally. A team works to put together an ROV named the 11th Hour to explore inside the ship. The National Parks service works with a team of divers to explore the internal corridors of the USS Arizona.
The world is at war during 1941. Adolph Hitler has torn Europe apart. While Japan is invading Southeast Asia for materials. It looked as though the Axis powers are going to win. The Americans did not want to get involved in another war. The plumb assignment for the soldier or sailor was Pearl Harbor. Life was good for the soldier or sailor in Hawaii. At least until the summer of 1941, when Japanese invaded Indochina. President Roosevelt ordered an oil embargo against Japan to stop Japanese expansion. This made Japan even more aggressive. The Japanese saw the fleet in Pearl Harbor as a threat to their expansion and decided to attack.
Even though the Navy did not believe that the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor they still ran air drills and had the ships practice shooting. For the sailors it did not make any sense, but they dutifully practiced. Then the attack on December 7th, 1941 happened and changed this ideal world for the sailors and soldiers.
A group of explorers looks to bring the USS Arizona back to life. These explorers will look through the ship to try to understand what life was like aboard the ship. The USS Arizona was the pride of the Naval Fleet. It was sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The first initial external scans are produced and a survivor from the USS Arizona takes a look at these first scans. These scans show a badly damaged ship that was torn apart during the attack.
What will the expedition find? What will the expedition learn about the USS Arizona? How does the survivor react to seeing his ship for the first time in seventy-five years? Continue to watch this documentary to find out.
This is a good documentary to show to a history class. The survivors tell their stories about Pearl Harbor as well as the attackers tell their stories. The exploration in the USS Arizona was neat to see. It did start out slow with the lead up to Pearl Harbor but slowly it gradually built up to both the survivors’ tales and the scanning and the exploration of the wreck.
Good morning, we are still continuing with World War I and World War II documentaries for November. This time we are coving the series Hitler’s Lost Battles. AS the war moved forward, Hitler made more decisions that would eventually cost him the war.
The year is 1942 and Germany is at war with the United States. Nazi Germany was at its breaking point. Operation Barbarossa failed to bring victory as well. Stalin’s victory forced the Germans back. Hitler had to make a choice, do a strategic withdrawal or continue on fighting. Hitler went after the Caucasus Mountains to get oil. The German blockade was effective, so the Germans needed the oil found in the Caucasus Mountains.
He decides to attack. However, the distance is long and Hitler has continued to underestimate the strength of the Russian Army. So, Hitler splits his army into two. One army will take Stalingrad and the other will go after the oil in the Caucasus. Nobody could talk Hitler out of that decision. The Germany army pressed on. Hitler wanted to strike a blow against Stalin by taking Stalingrad. Stalingrad was an industrial city as well and would be a humiliating defeat for Stalin if his namesake was defeated.
The Americans were coming and were supplying the Russians through the Volga. It Hitler could conquer Stalingrad, then that would stop the Americans from supplying the Russians through the Caspian Sea and the Volga River. The Battle of Stalingrad began in August and would be started with bombing. The vision was to turn Stalingrad into a ruin. However, the Germans did not factor in the difficulties of urban combat and the ruins would be great for defense. The tank, useful in an open field could not be used in the city as well. This changed the nature of the battle and the Germans had a lot of difficulty in adapting their strategies.
The Germans suffered many lost but pressed on. The Germans ramped up the attacks, but the Soviets fought back district by district, house by house, and basement by basement. The Soviets replaced their forces rapidly and if there were no guns were found, they were told to take the guns of the fallen. If there were Soviet soldiers wanted to retreat, they were executed. Then winter came and the Germans were no equipped to take on the Soviet army. The Germans wanted to retreat but were told no.
Supplies were limited. The Germans had to keep the army supplied during winter. The cold caused problems flying in supplies. The result is that much of the German army would die of starvation. The Germans were eventually forced to surrender and the soldiers just gave up. It was the first major defeat for the German army. Hundreds of thousands of German soldiers were taken prisoner of war. Less than 5,000 German soldiers made it back to Germany after the war. The Germans lost one million men. The Battle of Stalingrad was a turning point in the war.
Meanwhile in Africa the Americans and the Britons were making inroads into North Africa. In 1942, the Allies opened a second front: North Africa. This would have given them a platform to invade Europe. The Germans started suffering defeat after defeat in Africa. However, much like in Stalingrad, Hitler refused to surrender. Little by little, the Allies take more and more of Africa and are inflicting serious casualties against the Germans. They persisted to fight onto the end. To continue to learn more about the troubles in Africa watch the rest of this documentary.
This was another good episode to view. I am finding that each blunder easy to follow. This would be another potential episode to show in a history class. Since it is also a French produced documentary, you may consider showing this in a French class.
Good morning, we are still continuing with World War I and World War II documentaries for November. This time we are coving the series Hitler’s Lost Battles.
It is July 1944, and the British Secret Service is putting a plan in place. Their goal was to assassinate Hitler. A man parachutes into Bavaria and he tracks down Hitler. However, the plan is abandoned. It has become clear that Hitler is the best way to defeat Germany. It has become clear that Hitler had made a series of blunders. When Britain had the chance to invade England, he pulled back allowing the army to rebuild. What other decisions did Hitler made that cost Germany the war?
On May 10, 1940 Hitler attacked the Netherlands, Belgium and France all at once. This shocked the world. Hitler had divided his troops to invade three countries. The British were cornered on the North Sea. They are trapped in Dunkirk. The Germans wanted to press on, but Hitler called the attack off. This allowed the British to escape from Dunkirk. Hitler wanted to emphasize that he was in charge. He was also concerned about getting supplies to the army because the army had moved so fast the supply lines could not keep up.
As a result, the British launched Operation Dynamo which allowed the British to evacuate their soldiers. Everything that could float was used to evacuate the soldiers from Dunkirk. Everyone gave a hand to help evacuate the soldiers. That did not stop the German Luftwaffe from harassing the ships. Several dozen ships were sunk as a result. The very survival of the British army was at stake. The British army was rebuilt, in the mean time the French soldiers and were sent across the Rhine as prisoners of war.
Hitler tried to cut a deal with Great Britain after the French Defeat. It had everything to do that they were Anglo-Saxon descendants; therefore, they were an Aryan people. If he could make peace with Britain than he could invade Russia. However, Churchill was in charge and he was a man for war. There would be no deal with Hitler. Churchill played Hitler like a fiddle, Churchill needed time and Hitler gave it to him.
England prepared for a German invasion. However, the attack came from the sky and the Luftwaffe bombed Britain instead. Goering said that he could conquer Britain in three weeks. The attack went ahead. These attacks would set Britain against the Nazis. Germany would invade the Channel Islands to help with their future invasion and launch ariel attacks.
When the Battle of Britain begins the British had only 800 planes. The Luftwaffe outnumbered them. However, with their pilots and the plans maneuverability they were able to defeat the Luftwaffe. Britain also used radar to defend against the air raids. The Nazis were bombing military targets and war industry targets. Eventually London suburbs came under attack and so the British bombed Berlin as a symbolic gesture towards the Nazis. The bombing of Berlin shocked the Germans which angered Hitler. Hitler then ordered attacks on the city. London became the prime target for Nazi targets. The war industry in Britain was spared and Britain was rearming itself once again. Additionally, Britons came together to take care of each other. Despite this, over 50,000 people were killed. German losses were also high, and the Luftwaffe were facing defeat in the Battle of Britain.
Tune into the rest of this episode to discover more about Hitler’s blunders during the Battle of Britain.
This documentary is excellent and would be something I would show in a history classroom.
World War II and World War II in numbers continue with the discussion of Blitzkrieg.
A group of men snuck across the Polish border. Their job was to seize a railroad junction in the mountains. This was going to be the first step in invading Poland. However, the attack was delayed and the Polish guards caught these men. Hitler denied everything about their plans and the Polish government believed. However, five days later the Nazis invaded Germany and after the invasion started, the Polish army blew up the railroad depot.
The speed at which the Germans came shocked the Polish. What was going on was the lightning war. 1.5 million German troops were massed on the Polish border. It was the largest massing of troops since World War I. The rest of Europe wanted to avoid another World War. With the Polish nation under attack and the European powers had no choice. The Royal Air Force took to the sky to dump leaflets over Germany telling them that their leaders were going to inflict misery on the people. The French also invaded Germany for five days and then retreated. These were merely symbolic gestures.
The British and French armies wanted time to prepare for war. The Poles were left on their own to fight. The Polish army was the fourth largest army in Europe and they would try to fight back against the Germans. However, the Germans were better equipped and had more technology. This advantage played into the Germans’ hands and allowed them to move with lightning speed across Poland.
The Blitzkrieg Strategy stuck terror throughout the world. The Germans would punch a hole into the enemy line and then bring in the tanks to surround the enemy and surround them. The Germans used their tanks as shock weapons. The Panzer Tanks were very capable of handling the Polish Army. Still at the start of the lightning war, the Germans were still relying on horses to transport heavy armor. The German Army used more horses in World War II than they did in World War I.
The Polish Army fell back to Warsaw to wait for the Allied Defense. However, they received a shock. The Germans signed a non-aggression agreement with the Soviets. Stalin then marched his army into Poland and seized control of half of Poland. Warsaw finally had to surrender. The Western powers allowed it to happen.
Once in control, the Nazis started to murder thousands of Poles. This was going to be a different kind of war. Five hundred thirty-one Polish towns were raised and thousands of civilians were murdered. At the end of the war, 17% of the Polish people were killed. Thousands more escaped and would join up with the British Army to start their own divisions to liberate Poland.
The French were extremely reluctant to go to war. The trauma of the first war still lived in their memory. To prevent this, the French-built tunnels and defenses along the German borders. They just worked to keep the Germans out. When this series of defenses came to Belgium, the Belgians refused to let them build the defenses citing it would violate their neutrality.
Hitler turned his attention toward Norway. He would use the Norwegian coastline to launch his U-Boat fleet. The British sent a token defense to Norway but Norway would fall to the Nazis. This invasion finally forced Neville Chamberlain to resign which would clear the way for Winston Churchill. What would happen during this war? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out.
The interesting section in this documentary was the invasion of Finland, which is something I have never heard about. Otherwise this is one episode to skip in the classroom.
WWII in numbers is a documentary series that talks about the numbers before World War II. The German defense minister demanded a meeting with Hitler. He said that war was going to cost billions of dollars. After failing to knock the Soviet Union out of the war in April 1941, war funding is in short supply. So when he declared war on the United States, Hitler had no money to fight it. Hitler wanted to fight the great powers and the Jewish bankers. Hitler’s war was about both conquest and extermination. His new target was the Soviet Union.
The Siege of Leningrad occurred in September 1941. The German Army was going to target Leningrad. It was the place where the Russian Revolution so it would have been a symbolic victory for the Germans. However, they had no money nor the strength to take the city. Instead, he would starve the city to death. The citizens could not leave the city and the German Army had no interest in saving the civilians. The Siege of Leningrad was the longest siege in history.
The German air force bombed a food depot: 3000 tons of bread-making flour were destroyed. About three and a half million people were trapped inside the city. They held out for two and half years against constant German bombardment. Over 1000 tons of supplies were needed to supply the city and keep the people alive. The Soviets tried to keep the city supply during winter over the ice of Lake Ladoga. Unfortunately, the ice was not reliable. Lorries sunk down into the ice.
Supplies fall short of the needed rations to keep the people alive. Things get so bad that people resort to desperate measures to stay a life. They ate their pets to stay alive. Even if the animal was poisonous, they ate what they could. It took a lot of effort to get water. People collapsed in the streets. You never went to bed because you could die in your sleep from hunger. Some people turned to cannibalism to stay alive. Over 2,000 people were arrested for cannibalism. Over 1,000 people died per day. Leningrad refused to surrender. It would have made more sense for Hitler to take Leningrad.
A group of Nazi officers gathered in January 1942 to meet to try to plan for mass murder. Mass shootings were not accomplishing the Nazi’s aims. Hitler wanted to kill as many Jews as he could. This meant the construction of dedicated killing facilities. By the end of the war, 800,000 people would become implicated in the Holocaust. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor led to the United States entered the war. Even if Hitler was defeated he would murder as many Jews as he could in going down in defeat.
Experiments were performed on Jews and Soviet Prisoners of war to find the most efficient way of killing Jews. The gas trucks were created. Another more efficient way of killing was created: the gas chambers. This was a more efficient way to kill the Jews. Those who survived the selections were forced to work on starvation rations. This was death on an industrial scale.
However, to keep this industrial killing up, the Nazis needed resources. They turned to one Soviet city: Stalingrad. It was an important industrial hub for the Soviet Union. Stalin believed that the Nazis would attack Moscow, so Stalingrad was a complete surprise to the Soviets. What happened during this battle, tune into the rest of this documentary to find out more.
This is an excellent documentary to show during the World War II section in a history class.
World War II - USS Indianapolis
As I did the previous year, I hope for November to feature World War I and World War II documentaries. This documentary will feature the story of the USS Indianapolis. The ship was torpedoed by the Japanese and only 317 survived after their five-day ordeal. The survivors of that sinking are now finally telling their story. Additionally, families of the dead participate in the documentary. This is a longer documentary and should be broken up into parts for easy viewing in the classroom.
The story documentary kicks off with the USS Indianapolis survivors talking about their enlistments and being assigned to the USS Indianapolis. They were amazed at the size of the ship. These men were teenagers and young adults. Their ship had an admiral on board and it gave them a bit of prestige. Franklin Roosevelt sailed onboard the ship. These sailors traveled from Australia to the Bering scene. They recall breaking ice off the lines because of the cold. They went from the cold to the South Pacific and the heat.
They took part in the battle of Iwu Jima and they tell their stories about facing the battle. After the island was secure, they continued to battle. They then took part in the battle of Okinawa and shot down kamikaze. On kamikaze managed to bomb the Indianapolis and killed nine men, thirty were wounded. After that battle, they went back to the States to get repaired and the ship had a seventeen-degree list the whole way back.
After repairs were done on the USS Indianapolis they went back to war. The survivors recall going back out for one last mission and they were to deliver the parts to the atomic bomb. At the time they did not know what they were taking back and the stories ranged from toilet paper for Douglas MacArthur to whiskey to celebrate the war. The survivors recall their feelings about going back. They were optimistic that the war was going to end and soon. This section featured more of the families of the USS Indianapolis.
After their special delivery, the USS Indianapolis was sent on another mission. They were going to an area where they were told they did not need an escort. Unfortunately, a Japanese sub found the Indianapolis and fired six torpedoes into the ship at midnight. Each survivor recalls where they were when the USS Indianapolis was hit. They recall the explosions and the screams of the men. Many of the men were badly burned, but the damage was done to the ship. No word was announced to abandon ship because the electricity was out. Nobody knew what to do and the ship was sinking from underneath them. It was chaos onboard. The navy men were working to abandon the ship while the Marines on board told everyone to wait until the orders came to abandon the ship.
The USS Indianapolis started rolling and the captain gave orders to abandon ship and these had to be shouted among the men. These were kids that had no idea how to survive in the water. Each survivor recalls how they got off the ship. Many of the survivors recall getting caught in oil once they were in the water. They each recall the last thing they saw from the ship.
However, they did not know what would encounter after they got off the ship. Over 800 men got off the ship and the survivors were spread out because they were coming from different directions. These men were floating in the Pacific. A lot of the men did not know how to swim and many learned that day…
To learn more about what happened to the survivors continue to watch this documentary. The survivors’ tale is harrowing and this would be a documentary to show in a class on World War II.
Return to Auschwitz
Returning to Auschwitz is the story about Kitty Hart-Moxon, a Polish English girl who was sent to Auschwitz. She survived in the camp for two years. After liberation, she made her way to England. After 34 years she returned to Auschwitz. She grew up in Southern Poland with a mother and father and a brother. They managed to escape the Nazis several times. Unfortunately, the Nazis caught up with them and it would change her life.
She was a child when the Nazis invaded Lublin, where they were living. It quickly dawned on her that the Nazis were out to kill people like her. Her brother fled to Russia. He attempted to reach England. Her grandmother was seized and killed. Her father arranged new Aryan identities for his daughter and wife. He put them on the train to the west. They were part of a forced labor group.
The Gestapo were tipped off about potential Jews in the work party. Kitty remembers the day when the Gestapo came. The leader looked like an ordinary man but the way he spoke, she knew she had to prepare to die. The Gestapo were scared them. Kitty felt relieved that she was not to die. Kitty and her mother were sent to Dresden to another prisoner. Then she was transported back to Poland and Auschwitz. Kitty was 16 when she was sent to Auschwitz. Her family had been on the run for 12 years.
Kitty admits to being ready for Auschwitz the first time. She was detached from everything at that point in the war. Now visiting the site again, she was unsure that she will be ready. Kitty goes back to Auschwitz to show her son and feels that it is her duty to go back. When she is gone, her son will be able to tell Kitty’s story.
Kitty and her son arrive in Auschwitz. She is already nervous about return and struggles to get her bearings. She encourages her son to bring his children to the site. This is a duty that she does not take lightly. Eventually, she starts telling her story to her son. There was a particular glow to the night sky when she arrived at the camp. She recalls the scent of roasted meat as well. She helped build the railroads that lead to Auschwitz. She carried the cement for the railroad. She was bitten by the dogs. She begins with the arrival and the selection process. Kitty recalls being given uniforms, just one layer.
Kitty was interned in Camp B1. She wants to look for a way into the camp. They arrive at the camp and Kitty describes the selections. One way was the way to live and the other way was to die, and it was where the crematoriums were at. It was night when Kitty entered the camp. Everything was taken from her and she was shaved. She was smeared with green fluid and she was given Russian prisoner of war uniforms. There were Russians that were shot before she arrived.
She looked for block 25 because it was significant. It was her block and she was there for months and months. She hid there for months and months. Everything time she went into the block she was beaten and got her bread ration. You have to admire Kitty’s determination to tell her story to her son.
This is an older documentary about one survivor’s return to Auschwitz. This would be a good documentary to show at the end of the Holocaust Unit because it is about the return of a survivor to Auschwitz. It is the raw story of a woman’s survival in the Holocaust.
Today, we will explore Holocaust survivor stories from Ukraine in this blog.
This film was created by Sergey Bukosky and several Ukrainian students record Ukrainian Holocaust survivors’ testimonies. These survivors escaped execution. Others rescued friends and neighbors. These students recorded the survivors’ stories for the documentaries. These testimonials were recorded from 1994-1998. It was started after the filmmaker’s encounter with a book on the Baba Yar massacre.
The survivors begin their stories from the beginnings of the Soviet occupation. There were no idlers in Ukraine. Everyone had a job. However, the Soviets offended the Jewish population. They called them the word for Russian Jews and not the correct Ukrainian term. One family celebrated Stalin’s accession. They put a picture of Stalin in their stationery store.
These were people who lived where the individual did not exist, the country came first. They were members of a big family. There were no different characteristics between the people. However, in reality, there was the fifth line on peoples’ files, and this indicated ethnicity.
The survivors told stories of their childhood. Some played typical pranks on the families. One family had their uncle took for forced labor and they lost the family story. One little girl was punished for using a bad word when she saw a Jewish little boy. Even today, the Ukrainians do not understand what made the Jews different. A student working on transcribing the interviews said she did not want to be Jewish.
In 1942, the war came to Ukraine. One survivor recalls being unable to tell the difference between artillery fire and a storm. Motorcycles sped down the streets. These motorcycles carried Germans and they had guns. Papers were flying from the motorcycles and were carried on the wind. Everyone was rushing when war was declared. One child was up in a tree picking cherries. Something exploded above them and threw them from the trees. He was with his friend and his friend was killed as a result of the explosion. That child grew up that day.
When the war came to Ukraine, they immediately began executing Jews. One child remembered seeing the trucks where Jews were being carried. A child was crying in the truck. They stopped the truck and took the baby out and killed the baby. The Germans went marching from door to door looking for Jews. One survivor recalls three ditches being dug and nobody knew how they were dug or who dug them. It all went fast.
One mother managed to get her family to the back of the line. The Germans were hitting people in the back of the head and then the machine gun fire went off. They were using tracer bullets to kill people. One survivor tried to get as low to the ground as she could. She was determined to crawl away. She had her sister by the hand and they managed to escape from the fire. This survivor recalls a woman singing a Yiddish song and she thought this woman lost her mind. Then she remembers a man in black shouting “God, where are you?” This survivor crawled to the edge of the cliff and a German was coming in her direction. She must have blended in because of her light hair and played dead. He never found her and it was then she was able to get away.
As a student, the focus was always on Poland, Germany, and Anne Frank. I have never heard about how Ukrainian Jews suffered. This is a different documentary. I would stay strange because it blended both the Holocaust and the Soviet times. It was survivors telling their stories. It would serve as a good backup if you cannot find any additional documentaries on the Holocaust. This documentary is told in Ukrainian with English subtitles.
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