Category Archives: Film

A Shtetl in the Caribbean

Read more and contribute to the realization of the project at:

Mark Wiznitzer: “Language and culture are so intertwined. My father left Vascauti (Vashkivtsi, Vashkowitz) 40 km from Czernovitz in Bukovina in 1927.He attended cheder and did not have the opportunity to complete his education because he left Romania with his older brothers while in his mid-teens. But he eventually learned to do business in 7 languages, including Japanese. But Yiddish was his first language, in which he wrote to his brothers using Hebrew letters. My maternal grandmother, having finished gymnasium in Dresden where my mother was born, and her Polish-born university-educated husband, spoke German. But their other European languages came in handy as they had their other children in France and Belgium, and settled first in Colombia, and ultimately in Curaçao. To assimilate, my grandfather added “Montevenado” to his name, a Spanish translation of his surname. And so the name on his gravestone in the ancient Jewish cemetery Beit Haim Blenheim reads “Max Hirschberg Montevenado”. My mother, having received a Dutch education in Curaçao was fluent in several languages. But she did not learn Yiddish until she and my father made it through WWII in Japan, where they lived with my father’s cousin from Czernovitz and socialized with other Jews from Eastern Europe, as well as Iraq and Syria. When my parents returned to Curaçao in 1946, Yiddish came in handy as the language of the growing Ashkenazi community, which had reached a sufficient critical mass to resemble a “Shtetl”. In Curaçao we Ashkenzi Jews were callled “Polacos” because the first to arrive came from Polish Galicia, ironically from Snyatin, immediately across the Cheremosh river from, and the nearest town to, my father’s birthplace. My childhood classmate, Sherman de Jesus, lived near our community’s Shaarei Tsedek synagogue and social Club Union. He was fascinated by our community early on. A successful documentary producer and director, he is now completing a film project on the Shtetl in the Caribbean. At the link above, there is a clip of some scenes shot so far in Bukovina, Belarus and Israel.”

More on Movie “In Sarmatien”

From Gabriele Weissmann

Dear all,
Last week Volker Koepp invited us to the Berlin premiere of his new
movie “In Sarmatien” which took place in the Akademie der Künste. We
were very impressed. It is a superb documentary.
The many facets of the film are overwhelming. Its humane approach, its
references to history, to the past of peoples and the ensuing destinies,
should be a must-see for the contemporary generation and the educational
system world-wide.

It so happened that the premiere fell on a day when the events in Crimea
and the Ukraine were hot and moving fast.In the film,
Koepp interviews persons from Moldavia(Kisinau)Bielorus (Grodno)
Ukraine (Czernowitz),Lithuania, Kaliningrad (Königsberg) : and
everywhere the persons talk about their dreams for a better life, the
economical and political problems of the present situation,
and some, of their fears of a Russian takeover.

Considering the current events in Eastern Europe,this film is amazing.

In the trailer shown on today’s List, next to Tanja Kloubert,we see and
hear Felix Zuckermann, the son of Frau Zuckermann from the former movie.


In the photo (click to enlarge), you will see Volker Koepp first on the left, my
husband and myself, and on my right,Fritz Hartthaler, the producer of
many Koepp documentaries, which are acclaimed all over the world.)

Not in the picture is Thomas Plennert, the outstanding cameraman, who
contributed to Koepp’s films for many many years. His masterly hand
at rendering landscapes as breathtakingly live paintings, and showing
people’s faces in their truthful, natural expression enriched Koepp’s
movies to make them cineastic works of art.

Koepp has a very personal way of asking and getting answers, of looking
intensely for people and places, thus painting a very complex picture of
his documentaries. Koepp genuinely likes people and their stories,
is interested in them, and he gets a most rewarding feed-back.

Have just heard today that the DVD will be on sale as from September
2014 (

Ten years ago, on the occasion of my husband’s 60th birthday party,
my husband finished his speech with this message:

” – We try to find answers to the questions of the present: All of us!
– We try to decipher the mysteries the future holds in store for us: All
of us!
– Only occasionally we remember that we are made of the dough of the
past. All of us!


Joseph Schmidt- 110 birth anniversary in Berlin

From Hedwig Brenner:

Hi, I got this poster about Josef Schmidt and Czernowitz.from  Leonid Flyderman,  born in Czernowitz and a researcher about Josef Schmidt. He presented his research also last year in Vienna.. May be some members of the list will be at this time in Berlin, I am sorry, I could not be there, I will be, I hope, 3 to 10 November, to present my new book, the 5.Volume of the Lexicon”Jewish Women in Visual Arts” in some galleries and the Bauhaus.
Hatima Tova


LES ARPENTEURS – Le tourisme de la mémoire


Dans les rues de Tchernivtsi, en Ukraine, Sylvie une jeune retraitée française, cherche l’ancien atelier de son oncle tailleur. Sa famille a perdu sa trace en 1941. À Lviv, autre ville ukrainienne, c’est Antonin, étudiant de 22 ans, qui entame avec sa grand-tante un périple émouvant dans son histoire familiale. Eux aussi sont à la recherche d’un aïeul disparu. Quant à Orane et Rémi, frère et sœur d’une trentaine d’années, c’est la Pologne qu’ils sillonnent, enquêtant sur la disparition de leur grand-oncle Léon.

Chaque année, de nombreux Français consacrent leurs vacances à tenter de retracer le destin de leurs ancêtres juifs. Ces derniers vivaient en Europe Centrale où des familles entières ont été les victimes de ce que les historiens appellent la « Shoah par balles ». Ainsi, en Ukraine, plus d’un million de Juifs ont été fusillés par les Nazis.

Ces touristes de la Mémoire portent un nom : les Arpenteurs. Ils sont aidés par des guides locaux qui préparent leur voyage, collectent indices et documents d’archives, repèrent les lieux ou retrouvent des personnes qui ont pu connaître leurs parents disparus. Un long travail fait de patience et d’obstination qui permet, parfois, de renouer les fils d’une histoire familiale souvent tragique.

Un reportage en forme de témoignage signé Renaud Lavergne et Vincent Barral

Berezhany: My City, My Pride

In Berezhany, a town in the Ternopil region of Western Ukraine, a group of local students discover their history.

Jeremy Borovits: First off, thank you for your responses, and for watching the film. It has been interesting for me to hear all of your thoughts about the topic.

My first point is this: In no way, shape, or form was my goal to exculpate Ukrainian participation in the Holocaust. I have been living in this country for three and a half years, and I am well aware of the role some Ukrainians played. The goal was to try and get the students to realize that the history of what happened in Berezhany is a part of their history, whether it happened to Jews, Ukrainians, Poles, Roma, or Armenians.

Judaism, as well as the Holocaust, is not taught very well in Ukraine. A part of this is certainly due to the role many Ukrainians play. But it is much more attributable to the fact that the Ukrainian education system is rife with corruption and is still based on the old Soviet model. All history taught in Ukraine is either Soviet-centric, Russo-centric, or Ukrainian-centric. This is a problem with how they approach history, not some deep rooted evil that lies within them.

Along that note, I have lived in Ukraine for three and a half years, and at least one conclusion I have come to is this: NOT ALL UKRAINIANS ARE ANTI SEMITIC. Are there anti-semites here? Yes, certainly. But in the time I have been here, I have never experienced any active anti-Semitism. This past Shabbat I was in New Jersey, and while walking home from synagogue someone yelled “Kike” at me from their car. And this was in New Jersey.

There were Ukrainians who participated in massacres during the war. There was a very small minority who risked their lives to save Jews. But the VAST majority was simply trying to survive. Their lives and the lives of their families were at risk. To hold all Ukrainians responsible for what happened is both historically inaccurate and morally wrong. In 1932-1933, Stalin exacted a famine on the Ukrainian people (as wel as some other nationalities.) Millions of people were starved to death (probably around 3 million). Lazar Kaganovich, a Jew, was one of the Soviet officials who executed the famine. To hold all Ukrainians as responsible for the Holocaust is to say that all Jews were responsible for the Holodomor (the name given to the famine.)

History is not, and will never be, black and white. We all have our own emotions that factor into the equation, the memories handed to us by our parents and grandparents and beyond. The challenge for all of us, and especially in projects like this, is to see the Grey.

No one had ever talked to these students before about Jews. They knew nothing. And now they know something. And they for sure, throughout the course of the project, got to know many Jews of various sizes, religious observance, and facial hair. I cannot guarantee that they have all changed. But I do get the sense that the next time someone says something about the Jews, these kids will stand up.

One last point to make: I am sure that all of you who have seen the film remember the man with the large mustache and the hat who spoke of the Jews drinking the Ukrainian’s blood. What didn’t make it into the final cut was the students arguing with him. How can you think that, they asked. How can you believe that? How can you not see that a person is a person.

I truly believe that hatred will breed hatred, and love will breed love. Teaching our children that we are all equal, that we are all individuals, and that every human life is sacred, is, for me, the best weapon against hatred, the best support for love.

This is a difficult topic, and the making of this film was a difficult process. I am sure some of will accuse me of naivety, or blindness, or perhaps of being a self-hating Jew. I can only tell you that it was while living in a Ukrainian village that I found Hashem, and my neighbors and students were there to support me.

If you have a response I welcome it, both via the forum as well as privately, if it makes you more comfortable.

All the best