Survival After Darkness

Amos Lassen

Each year as we get close to Holocaust Memorial Day, new books are published and new movies are released as if in an effort that we do not forget. Each year the numbers of releases lessens as more and more survivors leave us and we are very close to the point that they will all be gone. This is one of the reasons that “Surviving Birkenau: The Dr. Susan Spatz Story” is so important. It is a compelling and powerful Holocaust documentary, follows one woman’s courageous struggles and ultimate escape from the Nazis Final Solution. The film premieres on DVD and digital on May 14 from Dreamscape Media and the Holocaust Education Film Foundation, in conjunction with Anchor Media Group and Soundview Media Partners.

Dr. Susan Spatz  who is today 96 years old emotionally narrates “Surviving Birkenau” and shares her astonishing life from an idyllic childhood in Austria to the horrors she and her family suffered at the hands of the Third Reich. Spatz was an only child who was born in Vienna in 1922, and who lived a life of privilege until the invasion by the when she and her mother found themselves “in the trap,” experiencing many of the terrors of her fellow European Jews including early Nazi oppression in Berlin; post-“Anschluss” Vienna and Nazi-occupied Prague. After being deported to Theresienstadt, the true horrors awaited her in Birkenau, the notorious woman’s death camp that was part of the notorious death camp, Auschwitz. After three years of brutal internment and a transfer to Ravensbrück and a death march that led away from the grave and to freedom.  Dr. Spatz recounts her experiences with remarkable clarity, from the decision by her mother that virtually condemned her to death through her eventual escape.

Filmmaker Ron Small with the assistance of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, brings this story to rich life for future generations. This is the second film to be released from the newly launched Holocaust Education Film Foundation (HEFF) organization that was founded to assure that the painful legacy of the Holocaust is never forgotten by keeping impactful stories alive through the medium of film. I always feel that seeing something like this on the screen is not just a film but a total experience and “Surviving Birkenau” is no exception.

There are additional full-length survivor documentaries to follow in 2019 include “From the Holocaust to Hollywood: The Robert Clary Story”, the real-life story of the “Hogan’s Heroes” star who was liberated from Buchenwald in 1945, and “I Ride For The Living: The Marcel Zielinski Story” which follows the story of Marcel who was liberated from Birkenau/Auschwitz at 10 years old and now keeps memories alive through “The Ride for the Living,” a 60-mile cycling event between Auschwitz and the JCC Krakow where the ride was created. All HEFF documentaries will be released worldwide through Dreamscape Media.

Additionally, both “SURVIVING BIRKENAU: THE DR. SUSAN SPATZ STORY” and the first film released by HEFF, “ TO AUSCHWITZ AND BACK: THE JOE ENGEL STORY” are available for screening events and become part of our lives.

About The Holocaust Education Film Foundation

Established in 2018, the Holocaust Education Film Foundation was started to build an international, interactive online community one Holocaust Survivor story at a time. Through full-length documentaries, distributed globally through numerous platforms, the online site and educational programs, the 501c3 foundation seeks to ensure that we never forget.



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