University alum presents Holocaust documentary
Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 12:10
A Women in the Holocaust class taught by Prof. Diane Isaacs held a private viewing of a documentary Thursday on Holocaust survivors, titled “No Denying: Delawareans Bear Witness to the Holocaust.” The documentary is composed of interviews with Jewish Holocaust survivors who chose to talk about their experiences in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
The interviews were conducted by Steve Gonzer, a university alumnus and educational specialist who worked in the Red Clay, Christiana and New Castle County Vocational Technical School District who estimated that he lost somewhere between 75 to 100 relatives during the Holocaust. Gonzer officially began working on the documentary in 2003; however, he said he had been conducting interviews of Holocaust survivors since 1989. The documentary premiered in 2008 and is 8 hours and 15 minutes long over five separate discs, Gonzer said.
Gonzer said his inspiration for making the film was a desire to learn more about Holocaust victims, including his family members. He said he was given the opportunity to hear the testimonies while on a Holocaust Education Committee, and he wanted to preserve others.
“I have several family members who were murdered in the Holocaust that my family would never talk about,” Gonzer said. “I really didn’t know much of anything about them. I thought it would great to be a documentary about it that would be available to the general public, schools, teachers and the main idea was to provide future generations with first-person eyewitness testimonies from people who were in the Holocaust.”
In all, 20 people, most of whom are residents of Delaware, agreed to be interviewed for the documentary. Gonzer said at times, it was difficult to find Holocaust survivors who were willing to relive the terror, as several of them said they have kept the things they had seen or felt during that time bottled up.
Gonzer said he tried to get different perspectives by speaking to several different groups of people with different experiences during that time. The interview subjects are organized into three different categories — survivors, liberators and righteous gentiles.
Survivors consist of Jewish individuals who lived through the Nazi camps such as Auschwitz and Birkenau. Liberators helped free the Jewish captives from concentration camps at the end of the war and were primarily American foot soldiers.
Righteous gentiles were people who were not necessarily directly involved in a concentration camp or the other facets of the Holocaust but were responsible for helping Jewish people survive throughout World War II by risking their lives to bring food or water to Jews who were hiding from Nazi capture.
One of the survivors was Susan Spitzer, a woman who lived in Hungary when the Nazis invaded and began collecting the Jews. She told the story of how her family was taken away in a cattle car with several other Jewish families. She said their only source of happiness was that they were going through the ordeal together.