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Film shows power of art in conveying memory of the victims of the Holocaust
09 November 2009 / 02:22

[Dateline: New York | Author: Department of Public Information]

Poster from the movie (Credit: As Seen through These Eyes, LLC)In observance of the anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom, the Department of Public Information (DPI) will screen the documentary film, "As Seen through These Eyes", at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, 9 November 2009 in the Trusteeship Council Chamber at United Nations Headquarters in New York. 

After the film, Ms. Hilary Helstein, the film’s director, will take part in a discussion on learning about the Holocaust through art.

The synagogue in the photo on the right was one of hundreds that were ransacked and set ablaze in Germany during the Kristallnacht pogrom on 9 November 1938.

The survivors who are interviewed in the film recall that it was Kristallnacht, “the night of the broken glass”, that signalled a turning point in history on 9 November 1938.  Following the destruction of Jewish property and the imprisonment of many Jews, they knew that they were no longer welcome in Germany.  Soon, there would be no safe refuge in almost all of Europe, where nearly two-thirds of the Jewish population perished in the Holocaust.

“As Seen through These Eyes", narrated by Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet Maya Angelou and produced in association with Sundance Channel, is a powerful 70-minute documentary film which conveys images and messages from a number of eyewitnesses of the Holocaust. Their artwork serves as visual testimony to the persecution and hardship endured under the Nazi regime.

The director of the documentary, Ms. Helstein, has travelled the world to compile interviews with survivors who have given us something that history could not; a journal of the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of the artists, through the eyes of people who by the very act of creating, rebelled and risked their lives by doing what they were forbidden to do.

The film portrays stories of people whose drive was to preserve their sense of self worth despite being stripped of all dignity.  They fought their oppressors with what they could, scraps of paper, pencils, brushes and musical instruments.

Featured in the film are Simon Wiesenthal, some of the children who performed in the children’s opera Brundibar in the Terezin concentration camp, and artists Karl Stojka, Samuel Bak and Dina Gottliebova Babbitt. 

DPI will also launch the "The Holocaust and the United Nations Discussion Papers Journal" this evening.  The publication contains a foreword by Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, and nine position papers on the Holocaust and genocide drafted by experts from around the world.

The Journal, developed mainly for use by secondary schools and universities, examines the universal lessons that study of the Holocaust offers the world in the fight against hatred and mass violence. The discussion papers series is also available online on the Holocaust Remembrance page. 

For more information, please contact Ms. Kimberly Mann at 212-963-6835 or at mann@un.org or visit the Holocaust Remembrance page.

If you wish to be placed on the mailing list, or if you do not possess a UN grounds pass, please register at Holocaustremembrance@un.org.  Visitors must pass through Security at the entrance on 46th Street and 1st Avenue beginning at 6:00 p.m. with photo identification. 

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.