Sunday, November 10, 2019

Cheating Hitler: Surviving The Holocaust-- One Of TV's Best Of The Season

Just when it seems quality programs on Canadian TV are fading fast along comes  this special documentary that may very well be the best of the year.
Called Cheating Hitler: Surviving The Holocaust this 88-minute masterful  documentary comes just in time.
The premiere is appropriately on History Monday November 11 at 9 p.m.
We are rapidly ending the era when there are any survivors of the Holocaust still living.
So cheers to director Rebecca Snow for allowing three feisty veterans of the Holocaust to tell their stories on the very locations where  millions of other Jews were slaughtered.
The premiere is entirely and appropriately scheduled for Remembrance Day--it runs on History Monday November 11 at 9p.m.
Snow tells me "The challenge was working with such elderly survivors. And of course I never knew exactly what the ending would be in all three stories. I think we told their stories of survival just in time."
First there is Maxwell Smart who was just nine when his family was rounded up as Nazi troops moved to send them in cattle cars on the way to slaughter.
It was his mother who told the little boy to run into the woods and hide.
And he survived for months in hiding until he met another boy Janek who was also in hiding.
Smart tells us he wasn't sure how long he'd survive but the two companions helped each other.
One day they rescued a woman and her baby in ice water. And Max thinks this was the reason Janek soon sickened and died.
And he has felt guilty ever after.
To survive he says "I became a human animal...I was alone for six months."
Then the story turns remarkable--the baby survived and may even be alive in Tel Aviv as an incredibly old woman.
The camera follows Smart to Tel Aviv and its here his incredibly odyssey ends.
The conclusion is truly amazing but you'll have ti watch the feature to find out.
The other survivors are Helen Yemus and Rose Lipszyc and against all odds they also survived.
Their True stories are indeed stranger than fiction.
And astonishingly the images of deep forest and lakes are incredibly beautiful, tranquil these days. At Sobibor where two million Jewsare said to have perished a vast lake of white stones marks the terrible spot of mass executions.
The  film should serve as history lesson for all of us who don't realize the magnitude of this event and how it changed the demographics of a huge portion of Eastern Europe.
These three eye witnesses remember the execution shots --at one spot empty German cartridges still litter the forest floor.
Helen remembers the fear inside the ghetto in Lithuania --she spent three years there, Rose returns to Sobibor where her family perished --the terrible, ghastly loneliness of theist now a museum is hard to take.
"Everything seemed to work out," Snow tells me. "It was a big gamble that mostly worked."
I simply believe Cheating Hitler is the type of true story that must be screened in every classroom.
MY RATING: ****.

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