Two years ago, Yale University Professor of History Marci Shore proposed that the Fortunoff Archive produce a short piece drawing on videotaped testimony that highlights the profound impact family separation had on Holocaust survivors. The goal was to use the past as a prism through which to grasp the present—to identify the universal in the particular and to spark debate over “the use and disadvantages of historical comparisons.”
The result of Marci’s idea is The Last Time I Saw Them, a 22-minute mini-documentary featuring excerpts from four recorded testimonies, including:
• Frances Goldstein and Sylvia Brodach, sisters born in Velky Berezeny, Czechoslovakia, in 1924 and 1928 respectively. They were separated from their parents upon arrival at Auschwitz.
• Fred Margulies, born in Berlin in 1927, who was separated from his parents when he was sent on a Kindertransport.
• Anita Schorr, born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1930. Anita was separated from her mother at Auschwitz.
• Heda Kovaly, born in Prague in 1919. Heda was separated from her mother in Auschwitz.
To amplify this project and promote a dialogue, Marci asked writers, teachers, poets, and artists to watch the film and share their thoughts. You can find a compilation of these responses and view The Last Time I Saw Them on Democracy Seminar’s site. Contributors include:
• Tyrone Chambers, tenor from New Orleans whose roles have included Eisenstein in “Die Fledermaus,” Russell Davenport in “Freedom Ride,” and many other productions
• Krzysztof Czyzewski, theater director, essayist, and co-founder of Borderland Foundation in Sejny, Poland
• Slavenka Drakulić, author of How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed
• Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, literary theorist, author of “After 1945: Latency as Origin of the Present” and “In 1926: Living at the Edge of Time,”
• Vera Grant, art curator whose exhibits include The Art of Jazz: Form / Performance / Notes at the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African-American Art
• Enenken Laanes, associate professor of comparative literature at Tallinn University, Estonia
• Rahul Pandita, New Delhi-based journalist and author of “The Moon Has Blood Clots”
• Arielle Rubenstein, postdoctoral fellow in clinical psychology at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System and Yale School of Medicine