Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
In another heart-rending account of human suffering during World War II, this historical documentary chronicles the activities of Chaim Rumkowski, the chairman of the council overseeing the Jewish ghetto in the large city of Lodz, southwest of Warsaw. About 300,000 Jews were deported from Lodz and killed in German concentration camps in World War II, and as the Jewish chairman of the council, Rumkowski was held responsible for that atrocity. Cunning Nazi leaders would choose Jewish representatives who were popular in their community to run the ghetto councils. Rumkowski established a vast network of social services within the ghetto that included schools, health centers, police and fire departments, food rationing, and sanitation. He tried to make the ghetto so useful to the Nazis' industrial needs that they would preserve it intact. And in fact, he did delay the deportation process -- but no matter what he tried, he could not stop the Nazis' extermination plan. As time went on, Jews continued to be deported until the ghetto was empty and Rumkowski was sent to Auschwitz, to meet his death at the hands of fellow prisoners who blamed him for their fate. Director Peter Cohen has used archival footage and previously unseen photographs taken by people in the Lodz ghetto to document his engrossing, extraordinary look at one tragic moment in the human devastation of World War II.
ghetto, Holocaust, Judaism, Nazism