“There is One More Out There Like Them”: A Survivor’s Story
October 1, 2013, 3:26 pm ET
Filmmaker Marian Marzynski survived the Holocaust in Poland as a child. In his latest film, FRONTLINE’s Never Forget to Lie, he captures the stories of other child survivors, following them back to the Warsaw ghetto in Poland where they once lived and evoking their bittersweet memories of that time. Recently, a woman wrote Marzynski to tell the story of her mother, a child survivor, who saw the film and finally realized she was not alone.
Thank you Marian for your very moving documentary Never Forget to Lie.
My mother, Inka Lautman (nee Freundlich), is a child survivor of the Holocaust, from Poland (Krakow), and she watched Never Forget to Lie on television on PBS last May. She really connected with the film and identified very strongly with all the child survivors who were interviewed. Afterward, she asked if my sister and I would watch it as she felt it could help us to understand her better.
After watching the film, I had a very heartfelt conversation with my mother, and she spoke about her life and about being a child during the war. Although she has a very difficult time speaking about the war, she was very vulnerable and really opened up when we talked.
In 2006 my sister and mother and I did go to Krakow to visit the house where she was born, and then we went to the Krakow ghetto, where she lived with her mother and grandmother from around 1941–42. It was very emotional and difficult for her to revisit her childhood home, especially since her mother Sydonia Flaschenberg (nee Ettinger) had passed away in 2000.
The scenes in your film where the child survivors touch the walls of their homes is exactly what happened with my mother. While we were there, she reverted to being a child. She was literally transported into the past, recollecting the circumstances of her childhood, and she sang many children’s songs in Polish. It was amazing how much she remembered having been so young.
Afterwards, when we returned to New York, she seemed even more devastated than she was before the trip. Her nightmares grew worse, and she seemed more depressed. Nevertheless, it really helped me in terms of my ability to connect more intimately with her situation, understanding more deeply what she experienced, and it gave me a context for everything I had witnessed growing up.
After I told my mother that I had watched the film, she asked me to make contact with you and ask you to inform the other child survivors still out there that “There is one more out there like them.”
She also said that your film helped her, in that she felt that she was not alone, and that she was not the only one. She said it helped her feel that there was nothing wrong with her, what happened was just wrong. She said she saw herself in the film as one of the little children, and felt the pain all over again, but mostly she felt it shed a light on the situation in a good way. She said:
So, thank you, because I feel your film helps to bring meaning to the lives of all children, and all human beings who are persecuted and tortured and oppressed. And for my mother, it may have helped to find some peace or some sense of resolution.
Photo: Inka with her daughers Dina and Ernessa on their first trip to Krakow. (courtesy Dina Slater)
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