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‘Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald’ to be shown at URI PDF Print E-mail
By Arthur Norman   
Friday, 29 March 2013 00:39
URI professor directs movie portraying a story of survival

A photo of some of the boys who were in Kinderblock 66 /“KINDERBLOCK 66 ...” A photo of some of the boys who were in Kinderblock 66 /“KINDERBLOCK 66 ...” PROVIDENCE — “I have no Jews.” That was the response of Antonin Kalina, an imprisoned Czech communist and underground block leader (administrator) to the Nazi demands at Buchenwald, the infamous German concentration camp in Weimar, which received thousands of Jews from other camps.

If his lie was discovered, he – and the hundreds of Jewish boys he shielded from many of the camp’s horrors – would have faced certain death.

These haunting words are from “Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald,” (kinderblock66thefilm.com) an 87-minute film that follows four survivors to their 2010 reunion at Buchenwald on the 65th anniversary of its liberation by the U.S. Third Army.

As part of URI’s Holocaust Remembrance Week 2013, the film will be shown at URI’s Swan Auditorium on Thursday, April 11. The film’s director, URI Film Studies Professor Rob Cohen will offer an introduction and hold a question-and-answer session after the film.

For the film, the four elderly men, Alex Moscovic, Israel-Laszlo Lazar, Naftali-Duro Furst and Pavel Kohn, were trained to use cameras to record their memories and impressions,  away from the glare of traditional lighting, technicians and even Cohen himself.  Cohen’s strategy was simple: allow the men to share their innermost thoughts, recollected in private, because, as Cohen said, “The conversations we have with ourselves are the ones … that really matter.”

Through Cohen and his fledgling filmmakers, the audience will learn that Kalina and his deputees hid the Jewish boys “in plain sight” of the Nazis in Kinderblock 66, “in a  horrible back corner,” an area so rife with disease that even the guards avoided it. Not only were the Jewish teens physically kept alive, but Kalina’s crew of “unlikely heroes also … provided religious, cultural, educational and spiritual nourishment.” Of the 1,800 to 2,000 young Jews brought to Buchenwald, more than 900 were alive when the camp was liberated.For his efforts, Kalina, a man who sought no recognition during his lifetime, was named one of the Righteous Among the Nations, an honor bestowed on non-Jews who risked their own lives to save the lives of Jews during the Holocaust.

Kalina died in 1990, a symbol of the extraordinary things an “ordinary” person can do. He truly “had no Jews” for the Nazis.

FILM AND DISCUSSION: URI’s Swan Auditorium, Kingston, 7 p.m., Thursday, April 11.  The free program is sponsored by URI Hillel, URI Film Studies and the URI Harrington School of Communication and Film Studies. Hillel also received funding from the Shappel Foundation (through Hillel International) and the URI Student Affairs Diversity Fund.

HILLEL: 874-2740 or urihllel.org.

ARTHUR C. NORMAN        ƒ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) is an editorial consultant for The Jewish Voice & Herald.

 

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