ABOUT THE MOVIE
The tiniest remnants of that community survived and Australia has the largest population of such survivors, after Israel. Many of them - and their children - hold painful memories and still harbour anger toward Poland.
Against these stark facts – and the alarming current resurgence of European antisemitism - is the surprising discovery that Poland is one of the few countries in Europe now trying to reconcile with the history of horror on its home soil.
Filmmakers Judy Menczel and Paul Green accompanied Fay and her band; what they recorded is both stunning and moving. In each town the musicians were greeted warmly – and with standing ovations - by people who didn’t even realise Jews had ever existed in their towns… and were hungry to know more. She met with young local people preserving Jewish graves which lay forgotten in peoples’ backyards or recovering broken gravestones being used as building materials; campaigns to save a synagogue being turned into a shopping centre; moves to remove a public toilet built over a Jewish gravesite.
"Everything I believe in life is about looking ahead; but without looking back, sometimes you can’t appreciate the beauty of looking forwards.” – Fay Sussman, introducing her performance of the Yiddish song “Makh Tsu Di Eygelekh” on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto… which she dedicated to the memory of 1.5million Jewish children murdered in the Holocaust.
Even three generations after the Holocaust, many Jews have a deeply conflicted, even suspicious view of the Polish people… perhaps even more than towards the people of Germany itself.
The sheer scale of the murder that took place on Polish soil – with the active and undeniable collaboration of many Poles – speaks for itself. Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, Treblinka… just some the infamous death camps where 3 million Polish Jews met their deaths.
What then does one make of a tour of Jewish Australian musicians playing klezmer music in small Polish towns where entire Jewish communities were wiped out?
Amazing, inspiringly, this is exactly what singer Fay Sussman and her Klezmer Diva band did last year.
And an extraordinary documentary – currently in the making – is set to tell the story.
Fay Sussman was born in Poland in 1946 and – until recently – vowed never to return. But overcoming her fears Fay was motivated to make this surreal pilgrimage as a gesture of hope and love.
It’s a story that will move you and restore your faith in the human spirit.
The film looks at the issue of reconciliation between Jews and Poles through the 3rd generation of young people “on both sides of the fence” as they try to come to terms with the horrors of the Holocaust – and make genuine moves towards peace and understanding.
“The film we aspire to make looks at the attempts by individuals to respect each other's pain, reach out and move forward towards tolerance and healing,” says Judy Menczel.
“Fay and her music deeply touch the people leading this new movement for truth and reconciliation. It is a microcosm of what can be achieved by individuals to somehow move forward after genocide as well as a lesson in how the young can respectfully and honestly deal with the traumas of the past.”
Our Jewish faith tells us that we cannot hold the children responsible for the sins of the parents,” says one holocaust survivor in the film.
“I don’t hate,” adds Fay. “My vision is that we change the cycle of hate so that the children of tomorrow have hope.”