Though there are many diaries and some still photographs of the Lodz Ghetto, there are very few actual witness accounts from survivors. Paula Biren’s is all the more exceptional, as she was a member of the ghetto’s Jewish female police force. The sharp details she provides underscore her incredible testimony. Of the hundreds of ghettos that dotted the Polish countryside, Lodz existed for the longest. It was ruled by Chaim Mordechai Rumkowski, known as “King Chaim,” who was convinced he could save part of his community by turning them into workers to serve the Germans.
Shoah: Four Sisters
“The stories are as harrowing, complicated, and rife with imponderables as any Lanzmann filmed. And together, collected in a form that is much less labyrinthine than Shoah, they represent an ideal introduction (and capstone) to Lanzmann’s project.” (New York Times)
Toward the end of his long life, Claude Lanzmann (who died last year) made several films comprised of interviews conducted in the 1970s that didn’t make it into his monumental Shoah (1985). Shoah: Four Sisters consists of four short features, each showcasing the testimony of a different female Holocaust survivor. “What they have in common,” wrote Lanzmann, “apart from the specific horrors each one of them was subjected to, is their intelligence, an incisive, sharp and carnal intelligence that rejects all pretense and false reasons—in a word—idealism.” We’ll show each of these films separately but recommend you see them all.