Learn from Local Toledo Holocaust Survivors at "Bearing Witness"

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Learn from Local Toledo Holocaust Survivors at “Bearing Witness”
It's been 70 years since the height of the Holocaust in 1943. For those who survived, the memories are as vivid as if it happened yesterday. As the last Holocaust survivors and veterans of World War II enter their golden years, it is especially important that their stories are captured on film so that future generations may "never forget."

It is in that spirit that the 2013 Palm Beach International Film Festival Audience Award-winning documentary Bearing Witness: The Voices of Our Survivors was created. Now, a special screening is coming to Toledo, where the film's subjects made their homes after the war ended.

The Power of Film

In Bearing Witness: The Voices of Our Survivors, six aging Holocaust survivors from five different countries - all with ties to Toledeo or the surrounding areas - are paired with Jewish teens, bringing together the oldest and youngest generations of the Jewish community.

The survivors tell the story of the Holocaust as it can only truly be told - by those who survived and rebuilt their lives without so many loved ones who were not so lucky. The film, by Heather Elliott-Famularo, is a brilliant portrayal of people who survived one of history's most infamous crimes as ordinary people who you may have passed on the sidewalk in Toledo.

The Survivors

The film is centered on:

 Rolf Hess, from Germany, who witnessed Kristallnacht, was sent to a relocation camp, was torn away from his family, and was rescued and hidden in a French orphanage.

 Al Negrin, from Greece, who fought in the resistance and was eventually sent to Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.

 Philip Markowicz and Aron Wajskol, both from Poland, who survived the infamous Lodz Ghetto, but were then placed in numerous forced-labor camps, culminating in death marches.

 William Leons, of the Netherlands, who hid alone for nearly two years in an attic room as a child.

 Clara Rona, of Hungary, who was separated from her family and deported to several work camps before escaping a death march just as the war ended.


The film won not just the Audience Award at the prestigious Palm Beach International Film Festival, but was also an Emmy Award nominee. It has also received considerable press coverage, both in Greater Toledo, Ohio in general, and the entire country.

To See the Film

To see the film, visit the Maumee Valley Country Day School, Millennium Theatre, 1715 S. Reynolds Road, Toledo, OH 43614. The film will be screened on Sunday, November 3, at 3:30 pm. The theater has 300 seats and features an intimate proscenium "thrust" stage, with no seat more than 35 feet away from the action.

For more information, contact Lou Ann Glover by phone at (419)381-1313 or send her an email.

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about travel and entertainment in American cities. He also profiles and reviews time tracking software.

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