Yesterday at the annual Holocaust Luncheon in Chicago over two thousand people paid homage to a remarkable woman, a survivor of the worst atrocity ever visited upon mankind. As a young girl with her mother and brother (her father had been murdered) she lived for years in barns, huddled in dark infested holes, ate what could be scavenged from an unrelenting environment. Why? Because she was born a Jew. She told her story, a nightmare of horror and degradation, with a dignity and poise of such magnificence that all basked in the brilliance of her heroism and hope. She lived through the Holocaust and because she survived thousands have benefitted from her largesse; she is a woman of valor, strength, inspiration, she is a witness and testified to what many deny, the purest form of evil perpetrated in the history of civilization, the annihilation of the Jews of Europe. She is a pillar of goodness, beauty and a preciousness of spirit that warrant the highest esteem. Her name is Frieda Weinberg.
“A Film Unfinished” is a documentary made in 1942 by the German government focusing on life in the Warsaw Ghetto; hundreds of thousands of Jews imprisoned in a few blocks in this once intellectually enlightened city; slowly dying of starvation, typhus and the crucifixion of mind and spirit. Only the Germans with their inimitable addiction to record keeping could be the archivists of their own demise. There are four soundless, sickening reels that Director Yael Hersonski has interspersed with commentary from five survivors of the ghetto. One of the filmmakers (Willy Wist) was unearthed, along with the footage, years after the conclusion of the war and gave some insight as to why the film was made; propaganda, staging scenes of Jews feasting and relaxing in comfort, surrounded by entitlements of wealth; butcher shops with luscious, dripping hides of beef; champagne dinners culminating in spirited dancing. These minimal scenes of forced fun were mingled with emaciated corpses, hollowed, shrinking people; adults the size of children, children with aged, withered faces; Nazis beating at will the dying, diminished populace; those waiting for solitude, relinquishment from agony, death a victory over this black, abysmal world.
Also discovered was the diary of Adam Gzerniakow, head of the Judenrat (Jewish Council) in the ghetto; he knew the fate of the inhabitants and many times was forced to select who would be sent to Treblinka, the concentration camp where life stopped and hell commenced. He committed suicide but his vivid accounts of these horrific occurrences breathe everlasting veracity and accountability, certifying the actions of these demented demons.
There is no denying who made this film; there are no actors who could have portrayed the victims, they were real as is the identity of the enforcers. The Warsaw Ghetto produced countless heroes; from April 19, 1943-May 16, 1943 a few “Davids” slew hundreds of “Goliaths”! An uprising of mythic proportions.
This tragic documentary cannot be categorized by ordinary stars, only six -pointed ones.