by Liz Feldstern, IHE Executive Director
Of all the many lessons imparted by the events of WWII and the Holocaust, perhaps one of the most poignant is the incredible power of just one human being. Sometimes for good, and all too often for evil – individuals during the Holocaust made decisions and took actions that sealed fates, that saved or lost lives, that changed history.
This year’s Institute for Holocaust Education Film Series features three films — all true stories — which focus our attention on remarkable individuals. Each in their own way, these individuals made an impact on others and on the events of the Holocaust on an extraordinary scale. The IHE is honored to bring these unique and diverse films exploring the stories, lessons, and ethical questions of the Holocaust to the Omaha community. All three films will be screened at 7 p.m. in the JCC Theater, free of charge, and open to the public.
Screening on Nov. 5, Run Boy Run tells the extraordinary true story of an eight-year-old boy who escapes from the Warsaw Ghetto and seeks the kindness of others in his solitary struggle to outlast the Nazi occupation and keep alive his Jewish faith. An unforgettable cinematic experience featuring exceptional performances, arresting cinematography and transcendent musical score, Run Boy Run is directed by Oscar-winner Pepe Danquart and based on the bestselling book of the same name, by Israeli author Uri Orlev. The film runs 112 minutes and is in Polish, Yiddish, Hebrew, and German with English subtitles.
On Nov. 19, the IHE will screen The Counterfeiters. The Counterfeiters is the true story of the largest counterfeiting operation in history, set up by the Nazis in 1936. Salomon “Sally” Sorowitsch is the king of counterfeiters. He lives a mischievous life of cards, booze, and women in Berlin during the Nazi era. Suddenly, his luck runs dry when he is arrested and thrown into the Mauthausen concentration camp. Hand-picked for his unique skill, Sally and a group of professionals are forced to produce fake foreign currency under the program Operation Bernhard. The team is given luxury barracks for their assistance. But while Sally attempts to weaken the economy of Germany’s allied opponents, others refuse to use their skills for Nazi profit and would like to do something to stop Operation Bernhard. Faced with a moral dilemma, Salomon must decide whether his actions, which could prolong the war and risk the lives of fellow prisoners, are ultimately the right ones.
Finally, on Dec. 10, the IHE will show The Return of the Violin. This documentary film chronicles the odyssey of a 300-year-old Stradivarius, now played by Joshua Bell. The film reveals the violin’s role in transforming superstar Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman into a legendary humanitarian who saved Europe’s premiere Jewish musicians by forming the Palestine Orchestra (now the Israel Philharmonic). Following the film, we will (tentatively) screen a pre-recorded interview with Joshua Bell about how he discovered the Stradivarius in London, and the making of The Return of the Violin.