Prisoner Number A26188 Henia Bryer is a documentary about a Holocaust survivor. Her niece, Lisa Bryer made the documentary. Henia Bryer came from a well-to-do middle-class family from Poland. She lost her father, sister, and brother in the Holocaust. She survived four concentration camps and the Death March. She tells her story in this documentary.
Bryer remembers when the German Army invaded Poland. The people were in a panic and within 14 days the Nazis occupied Poland. The propaganda machine immediately began. They put up speakers around town and the campaign was started. Henia remembers the blue and white armbands they had to wear. Bryer did not look like a Jewish girl. Even the German soldiers questioned her as to why she was wearing the star.
In 1941 she and her family were sent to the Randon Ghetto. It was referred to as “the large ghetto,” but it was a small place. Ten people were confined to one room. The Nazis would randomly knock on doors and pull people out. The Nazis would shoot those people. Henia’s younger brother was taken away to a munitions factory. She never saw him again until after the war. He never talked about his experiences.
In 1942, 20,000 people were taken out of the ghetto. A majority of the people went straight to the death camps the others were shot. Henia immediately went to work. She had an abscess on her tooth that she had to get taken care of. The abscess burst because of the pressure was on it. That same day the Nazis shot everyone in the hospital. Her older brother was shot as well because he was physically disabled.
Her remaining family members were taken to a concentration camp. They were herded unto cattle trucks and were taken to Majdanek Concentration Camp outside of Lubin, Poland. They had one suitcase. They had to strip naked into the snow and were taken to the showers. They were given barely shoes and uniforms. It was cold.
They got a glimpse of the women SS. These women were cruel and full of hatred. Henia wondered where they found these women. There were four camps for the prisoners and then a fifth camp for the crematorium. Henia was then moved to Plazow after six weeks. Her mother was sent to another camp. In the Plazow camp, people were from Krakow. It was an enormous camp. This was the camp featured in Schindler’s List. The camp commander was portrayed exactly how he was in real life. If he did not like someone he would shoot them.
The women were divided into teams of ten and they had to pushcarts along the track to the quarry. It was a nearly impossible job. Elsa, the chief of the SS Women, came to the camp. She had the most steely eyes Henia recalled. She was worse than the men. She took particular delight in hurting children and “was not normal.” She was looking for domestic help and Henia was picked to be a domestic help. Henia thought she was picked because she did not look Jewish.
Henia talks about the escapes she made and how she survived each camp. She was sent to Auschwitz after Plazow. Her father was beaten to death. Her younger sister was sent to the gas chambers because she was young. Someone who worked for her father managed to get her clothing. This is a survivor’s tale of the Holocaust. It incorporates pictures and her survival tale.
This documentary would be an excellent addition to a Holocaust curriculum. I hope a teacher would consider showing this documentary in the classroom.
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