“Why do we remember the dark sides of our history? Because we don’t want to let death have the last word,” Alex Moskovic said in the documentary “Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald”, released in July of 2012, directed by Rob Cohen.
“Kinderblock” was shown on Thursday, April 16 at 5 p.m. in the Swan Hall Auditorium at the University of Rhode Island and was followed by a Q & A with the director, a film media lecturer at URI.
Cohen has spent numerous years working in the film industry and was the creator of two television series produced by CBS and aired on the Discovery Channel. Cohen has also worked on programming for NBC, National Geographic, USA Networks and the History Channel. Aside from his television productions, he is also an experienced documentary filmmaker.
“Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald”, Cohen’s most recent film, has achieved critical acclaim. The film won awards for best documentary at the Rhode Island International Film Festival and the Crown Heights Festival, as well as the First Glance Festival.
In 2015, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the United Nations held a special screening of this film.
The documentary highlights events that took place in the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany during the 1940s. The film was based on the accounts of four living survivors of the camp who were taking a trip back to Buchenwald on April 11, 2010, exactly 65 years after the United States Army liberated Buchenwald.
The four survivors were Moskovic, Naftali-Duro Furst, Pavel Kohn and Israel-Laszlo Lazar. At the time when these men were taken from their families and put into the camp each was only a young boy, between the ages of 12 and 15.
Kinderblock is the German term meaning “children’s block”. Block 66 was a barrack in the back of the already overpopulated camp, almost hidden. It became an agreement amongst the prisoners that they would put all of the youth in there in attempt to save them. Over 900 boys survived.
Their survival is largely accredited to Antonin Kolina, a Czech communist referred to as the “block elder.” Kolina went out of his way to make sure that the boys were not found out and did everything in his power to keep them inside and excused from having to leave their barracks.
Each man had a unique and tragic account of the events that took place. The age of these men did not alter their vivid memories as to what occurred at the concentration camp.
They spoke about losing most or all of their family, the lack of food, the mass killings, having to sleep on the bodies of dead people, the smell of burning flesh from the chimneys’ incinerators.
A quote by Furst ended the film: “I don’t call myself a holocaust survivor. I don’t believe anyone who went through that survived. My belief is that we are the embers that didn’t burn in the fire.”