|Blind Love: A Holocaust Journey Through Poland with Man’s Best Friend|
|Directed by||Eli Rubenstein and Naomi Wise|
|Produced by||Eli Rubenstein and Naomi Wise|
Blind Love: A Holocaust Journey Through Poland with Man’s Best Friend is a 2015 documentary film about blind Israelis traveling to Poland with the help of their guide dogs, to learn about the Holocaust. Footage includes blind participants taking part in the 2012 and 2013 March of the Living programs. The film is narrated by Michael Enright of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
Blind Love recounts a trip to Poland of six blind Israelis and their guide dogs who took part in the annual March of the Living, where they visited once thriving sites of Jewish life and culture. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the blind participants and their guide dogs marched from Auschwitz-Birkenau in memory of the victims of Nazi genocide and against prejudice, intolerance and hate.
The Holocaust survivors who appear in the film are Belgian Auschwitz survivor David Shentow, and Polish born Max Glauben, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and Majdanek. Both survivors reflect upon the dramatic contrast in the usage of dogs by those who sought to harm innocent people. and those who employ dogs in the service of others. David Shentow describes his arrival in Auschwitz at 17 years of age, recalling how the man standing next to him was attacked - and killed - by a German Shepherd upon the order of a Nazi guard, for refusing to part with a family photo. Max Glauben shares his impressions about seeing guide dogs on the March of the Living, helping - not attacking - the blind Jewish visitors walking through the former concentration camp.
Commenting on the symbolism of the project, director Eli Rubenstein said "The Nazis didn’t just murder Jews, they murdered people with disabilities. And the Nazis trained German Shepherds to torture and kill prisoners."Rubenstein is President of the Canadian support group of the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind, and National Director of the March of the Living Canada.
During one scene inside the former gas chamber at the Majdanek concentration camp, Liron Artzi, a partially sighted lawyer from Tel Aviv, is overcome with emotion. Her dog Petel responds to her distress by licking the tears from her face. Artzi described it as a "powerful experience" in a later interview, saying "Petel understood what was going on. It was like she was telling me ‘I am here with you in every moment.’"
The interaction between Liron and her guide dog Petel in Majdanek, as well as Holocaust survivor Max Glauben's encounter with guide dogs in Auschwitz-Birkenau - during the March of the Living - appear in Witness: Passing the Torch of Holocaust Memory to New Generations published in late 2015.
Holocaust survivor David Shentow also appears in the film, recalling his first moments in Auschwitz, when the German guards set their dogs upon the prisoner standing next to him, killing him instantly.
"A gentleman standing beside me stopped the SS man very politely: Excuse me sir, I will leave the luggage – can I just take out a picture? The SS man lost his temper and let the dogs loose. They didn’t run, they just flew in the air straight to the men’s neck.And as the man stopped moving, I said: My God this man is dead! And this was the first 10 -15 minutes. I knew I am in Hell.”
Shentow also contrasts the Nazis training of dogs to attack prisoners along with the Nazi genocidal treatment of people with disabilities, with the experience of a group of blind Israelis traveling to Auschwitz on the March of the Living with their guide dogs.
“These dogs were there to kill, these dogs are here for life. ….[Those dog] were trained to jump on people’s necks – then you see a dog like that – like night and day.”
An inspirational and heartwarming movie.
“Blind Love” packs an emotional punch out of proportion to its short run time…showcasing the deep and mutual devotion the visually impaired have with their guide dogs.
[The] film captures devotion of guide dogs and their masters.
[Blind Love] sensitively describes the journey of six Israelis and their guide dogs to Poland to visit former concentration camps and once thriving sites of Jewish life and culture... [It] is truly an eye-opening and compelling film... and a finely woven documentary framing
Her guide dog, Petel, reacted instinctively. Nuzzling close to Liron, licking the tears from her face. You can learn empathy. Practice it. But this was empathy as existence. A natural form of being. Blind Love in a place of Blind Hate. The universal truth of that moment is what good storytelling is about.
Blind Love was made possible in part, through grants from the Citizenship & Immigration Canada - Multiculturalism Section, and the Claims Conference to March of the Living Digital Archives Project. The Digital Archives Project aims to gather Holocaust testimony from Canadian survivors who, since 1988, have traveled to Poland on the March of the Living to share their Holocaust stories with their young students in the locations they transpired.
Blind Love premièred in November 2015 as part of Holocaust Education Week in Toronto, with the co-sponsorship of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. It was also broadcast on the CBC's Canadian speciality channel Documentary in late 2015. In 2016, the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland screened the film several times, including one screening at a disabilities program. The Polish version of the film was narrated by Magdalena Cielecka a well known Polish film and theatre actress.
On April 24, 2017, Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Blind Love premiered in Israel on Channel 10 (Israel), and was simultaneously broadcast in Canada on CBC's Documentary Channel (Canada)
Nazi Germany used six extermination camps, also called death camps (Todeslager), or killing centers (Tötungszentren), in Central Europe during World War II to systematically murder over 2.7 million people—mostly Jews—in the Holocaust. The victims of death camps were primarily killed by gassing, either in permanent installations constructed for this specific purpose, or by means of gas vans. The six extermination camps were Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Auschwitz and Majdanek death camps also used extreme work under starvation conditions in order to kill their prisoners.
Majdanek was a Nazi concentration and extermination camp built and operated by the SS on the outskirts of the city of Lublin during the German occupation of Poland in World War II. It had seven gas chambers, two wooden gallows, and some 227 structures in all, placing it among the largest of Nazi-run concentration camps. Although initially intended for forced labor rather than extermination, the camp was used to kill people on an industrial scale during Operation Reinhard, the German plan to murder all Jews within their own General Government territory of Poland. The camp, which operated from October 1, 1941, until July 22, 1944, was captured nearly intact, because the rapid advance of the Soviet Red Army during Operation Bagration prevented the SS from destroying most of its infrastructure, and the inept Deputy Camp Commandant Anton Thernes failed in his task of removing incriminating evidence of war crimes.
The German camps in occupied Poland during World War II were built by the Nazis between 1939 and 1945 throughout the territory of the Polish Republic, both in the areas annexed in 1939, and in the General Government formed by Nazi Germany in the central part of the country (see map). After the 1941 German attack on the Soviet Union, a much greater system of camps was established, including the world's only industrial extermination camps constructed specifically to carry out the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question".
This is a selected bibliography and other resources for The Holocaust, including prominent primary sources, historical studies, notable survivor accounts and autobiographies, as well as other documentation and further hypotheses.
Luise Danz was a Nazi concentration camp guard in World War II. She was born in Walldorf (Werra) in Thuringia. Danz was captured in 1945 and put on trial for crimes against humanity at the Auschwitz trial in Kraków, Poland. She was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1947, but released due to general amnesty on August 20, 1957.
There is a wide range of ways in which people have represented the Holocaust in popular culture.
The March of the Living is an annual educational program which brings students from around the world to Poland, where they explore the remnants of the Holocaust. On Holocaust Memorial Day observed in the Jewish calendar, thousands of participants march silently from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp complex built during World War II.
Miles Lerman was an American activist who helped plan and create both the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and the memorial at the Bełżec extermination camp. Lerman, a Holocaust survivor himself, had fought as a Jewish resistance fighter during World War II in Nazi German occupied Poland.
Wilhelm Brasse was a Polish professional photographer and a prisoner in Auschwitz during World War II. He became known as the "famous photographer of Auschwitz concentration camp." His life and work were the subject of the 2005 Polish television documentary film The Portraitist (Portrecista), which first aired in the Proud to Present series on the Polish TVP1 on 1 January 2006.
The Portraitist is a 2005 Polish television documentary film about the life and work of Wilhelm Brasse, the famous "photographer of Auschwitz", made for TVP1, Poland, which first aired in its "Proud to Present" series on January 1, 2006. It also premiered at the Polish Film Festival, at the West London Synagogue, in London, on March 19, 2007.
The March of Remembrance and Hope (MRH) is a program designed for university and college students of all religions and backgrounds. The program takes place in mid-May, and includes a two-day trip to Germany, followed by a five-day visit to Poland. The international MRH program was founded in 2001 by Dr. David Machlis of the United States and Eli Rubenstein of Canada, both of whom were involved in the March of the Living program.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum is a museum on the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Oświęcim, Poland.
The Majdanek State Museum is a memorial museum and education centre founded in the fall of 1944 on the grounds of the Nazi Germany Majdanek death camp located in Lublin, Poland. It was the first museum of its kind in the world, devoted entirely to the memory of atrocities committed in the network of concentration, slave-labor, and extermination camps and subcamps of KL Lublin during World War II. The museum performs several tasks including scholarly research into the Holocaust in Poland. It houses a permanent collection of rare artifacts, archival photographs, and testimony.
Congregation Habonim Toronto, founded in 1954, is a liberal reform synagogue located at 5 Glen Park Avenue in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and one of the first Holocaust refugee/survivor congregations to develop in Canada. Although currently independent of any official denomination, its early founders modeled the synagogue on the example of early Reform Judaism in Germany.
Holocaust tourism is round-trip travel to destinations connected with the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust in World War II, including visits to sites of Jewish martyrology such as former Nazi death camps and concentration camps turned into state museums. It belongs to a category of the so-called 'roots tourism' usually across parts of Central Europe, or, more generally, the Western-style dark tourism to sites of death and disaster.
Witness: Passing the Torch of Holocaust Memory to New Generations is a large format volume, published by Canadian Second Story Press, inspired by a 2014 United Nations exhibit of reflections and images of Holocaust survivors and students who have traveled on the March of the Living since 1988. The exhibit and the book are intended to educate a new generation of students about the atrocities of the Second World War. In collaboration with March of the Living, an organization that spearheads visits to the Polish grounds where Nazi atrocities occurred, Toronto religious leader and Holocaust educator Eli Rubenstein compiled this book which includes an introduction from Pope Francis.
The March of the Living Digital Archive Project, begun in 2013, aims to gather Holocaust testimony from Canadian survivors who have participated in the March of the Living. Since 1988, Holocaust survivors have traveled to Poland with young students on the March of the Living to share their Holocaust stories in the locations they transpired.
Eli Rubenstein is a Holocaust educator, writer, and filmmaker. He is currently the religious leader of Congregation Habonim Toronto at Toronto synagogue founded by Holocaust survivors. He is also the National Director of March of the Living Canada, Director of Education for March of the Living International, Director of March of Remembrance and Hope Canada, and Chairman of the Canadian Friends of the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind.
Nate Leipciger is a Holocaust educator, public speaker and author.
David Shentow was a Belgian-Canadian Holocaust survivor and educator, featured in Canadian films, books and articles. He received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, and the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers in 2017.