I Am Here tells South African Holocaust survivor Ella Blumenthal’s remarkable story, starting with her youth in Poland where she witnessed the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and was imprisoned in the Majdanek, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps. Filmed as Blumenthal celebrated her 98th birthday with family and friends in South Africa, I Am Here showcases Blumenthal’s magnetic personality and uses hand-drawn animations to illustrate stories from her life.
I Am Here is director Jordy Sank’s first feature documentary. Jordy was inspired to make the film after growing up alongside Ella, listening to her heart-wrenching stories of perseverance, resilience, and strength.
This program features a discussion with Blumenthal and Sank.
Watch the program below.
This program’s original recording transcript is below. This transcription was created automatically during a live program so may contain inaccurate transcriptions of some words.
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Hi everyone, my name is Sydney Yaeger and I am the public programs coordinator at the Museum of Jewish heritage, a living memorial to the Holocaust.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Now, in its 24th year the museum is committed to the crucial mission of educating our diverse community about Jewish life and heritage, before, during and after the Holocaust.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): As part of that mission our programs are meant to illuminate the stories of survivors broader histories of hate and anti semitism through time and stories of resistance against injustice.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Today, we will be discussing the film, I am here.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): I am here tells the remarkable story of ella Blumenthal of 100 year old Holocaust survivor South African Holocaust survivor excuse me.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Starting with her youth in Poland, where she witnessed the Warsaw ghetto uprising and chronicling her imprisonment in.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Number of concentration camps, the film showcases blumenthal's magnetic personality and uses hand drawn animations to illustrate stories from her life we're honored to be joined today by ella and the film's director Jordi.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Jordi is a director, with a passion for storytelling and filmmaking with a vision to create content that evokes truth, meaning and emotion.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): I am here is his first feature documentary Jordi was inspired to make the film after growing up alongside ella listening to her stories of perseverance resilience and strength.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): we're going to begin by showing the trailer for i'm here, and then I will interview Jordi and ella for about 45 minutes.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): During that time feel free to ask questions in the zoom Q amp a box and we'll get to as many as we can, at the end of the hour, so i'm going to go ahead and show the trailer, let me just pull that up really quick and I will share my screen.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): You know, once like sorry I forgot to share sound.
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I love to talk to people I love to meet people.
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Look at me.
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Try to never talk about my suffering can fight for survival.
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on the rise.
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I was born in was.
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I was a teenager.
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Until the Nazis invaded Poland.
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My entire family.
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I was not ready to die.
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To the very person who denies your history.
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undercurrent of something going on, I think.
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We should not forget.
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Why, I chose to see.
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i'm standing here.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Alright, I would like to invite ella and Jordi back on the screen.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Thank you, both so much for joining us so to begin with both of you, I would like to start by discussing your friendship before the film, how did you both.
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Jordy Sank: Sure, so um i'll tell it from my side first and then and then i'll, let me tell it from her side, but I.
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Jordy Sank: I have a lot of memories growing up in the same community is ella and, but one that really just sticks out in my mind, and is, we were both.
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Jordy Sank: One Friday night we were at a shabbat dinner, and she stood up sort of an invited to speak, she stood up and overcome with emotion, she started telling us stories of our survival.
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Jordy Sank: And during the Holocaust and everyone around the table was was in tears we didn't expect you know, no one asked her to speak, she stood up and she just started telling me.
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Jordy Sank: harrowing stories and we were all in tears, and then the remarkable thing was that almost like someone flicked the switch.
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Jordy Sank: ella was dancing she was singing she was joking around she was playing with the kids and she was she was just the life of the party and in from a young age.
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Jordy Sank: I remember looking at, as this woman and thinking, how can she have been through.
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Jordy Sank: One of the darkest moments in history, but she she lives life with such zest and such positivity and I remember, making a sort of conscious decision from a very young age of saying i've got to.
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Jordy Sank: You know, get to know this woman and befriend her and and yeah that that that for me was the start of and have a lovely wonderful friendship and so so yeah that's that's sort of my side of the story, and I don't know if you want to add anything at.
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Ella Blumenthal: There is nothing that i've got to it this everything that I had in mind, you have set Celtic.
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Ella Blumenthal: i'm not going to talk anymore.
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Ella Blumenthal: about this.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Well that's a that's such a lovely story and that's so amazing, and I think really encompasses sort of the spirit we get from ella in the film.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So sort of speaking of the film Jordi how did you come to the decision to to make a film about Ellis story.
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Jordy Sank: So it was it was that night actually even from a young age, I knew that I wanted to be a filmmaker and from that night I knew that that it was story.
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Jordy Sank: and her life story with something that the world needed, you know for for various reasons, one because you know, we need to educate our future generations about the Holocaust, but, but also because.
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Jordy Sank: I think it was the way that he lives her life with such positive a positive outlook and you know, the way that her zest for life is sort of magnetic I think there's a lesson.
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Jordy Sank: In all of that, for all of us to all go through our own hardship hardships and and.
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Jordy Sank: And traumas and uncertain levels, but to look at this woman who's really been through so much and who wakes up every morning with a smile on her face, and it can see the beauty in everything in life, and I think that that was really what we were trying to pack the phone with.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): yeah I think mission accomplished very much.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So for ella.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): How did you make the decision to tell your story to a wider audience and was that a difficult decision to make.
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Ella Blumenthal: Well, it was quite normal that I should tell the world what has been happening during the war.
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Ella Blumenthal: has happened to people like myself, there is unfortunately not too many survivors that can speak and describe what we went through.
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Ella Blumenthal: Until the liberation that's why I felt this was the time now to talk to enlightenment, the world what these beasts have done to us.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): yeah I, I agree, and I think you, you really did do that in the film as well.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So the film was made during ella's 98th birthday.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Over that weekend that you were celebrating was that challenging to make it during sort of a celebration and did that presented the challenges and how did you make the decision to film at this kind of private time.
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Ella Blumenthal: i've told this story when I was getting older and I felt my children were now old enough to listen to understand what has happened to me.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): mm hmm.
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Jordy Sank: Yes, I think, from from my side, the reason that we wanted to film it ellie's birthday was because it was a very intimate time and there was family coming from all over the world to.
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Jordy Sank: To spend time with ella so it was a very intimate moment and also.
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Jordy Sank: You know, it was great for us to see the family interacting with in and asking questions, you know that they might have had in the back of their minds for for a while, have.
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Jordy Sank: You know, certain stories, or what what certain things might have been like in the Holocaust so to see to see that and it's very intimate setting and you know it was actually a privilege to be sort of a fly on the wall watching the family and during the spirit, the special birthday weekend.
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Jordy Sank: And so, your side, so I think that's that's just a little bit of why we decided to to film around that.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): And, Georgia has a bit of a follow up to that was was that your first time being introduced to most of elders family, I know you knew ella before but was this sort of the first time, you had met most of those people.
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Jordy Sank: So I believe it was the first time that I met the international and people from your family I know the South African members of our family quite well and so yeah it was a lot of it was great to meet a lot of the people from from all over from Australia from from Israel.
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Jordy Sank: A lot of people came and it was it was fantastic to see and the legacy and the just how big it is family it wasn't even everyone, not everyone was able to make it, but it was incredible to see just how big and the family is.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): ella did you want to say something.
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Ella Blumenthal: No, no, I was listening carefully there's nothing at this age that have got to it.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Okay um, so I would also really like to talk in the film about the animated sequences which are so beautifully done and really lend so much to the film so Jordan what inspires you to include animation and the film.
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Jordy Sank: So initially we we we phoned ella and we formed a testimony and when we were listening back to it, we were experimenting with stock footage and different mediums and just the way that edit tells His story.
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Jordy Sank: And you know the way she described certain things and just the sound of hearing the emotion with inner voice you, you know.
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Jordy Sank: You feel like you're almost there with her and we just thought that the stock footage was not working with the emotive way that she was telling a story, so we started looking for other avenues and on how to tell the story and.
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Jordy Sank: We started to explore animation and we thought it was a fantastic medium to really let the audience walk alongside ella and to you know feel like they're on this journey with her as a as a character and.
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Jordy Sank: and your I just think the the animation also really helps take the form away from the black and white stock footage you know there's a place for it, but I think.
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Jordy Sank: To a much younger audience and it really just helps to add a bit of color and to and to appeal to I guess a wider a wider audience.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): and
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Jordy Sank: it's funny because, at the very beginning, when I spoke to ella ella Do you remember when I when I first mentioned animation to you do you remember what you first said.
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Ella Blumenthal: You I do everything by what you first said.
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Jordy Sank: When I went when I mentioned that we were going to be using animation.
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Ella Blumenthal: I Oh, I was so Kathy.
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Ella Blumenthal: read it, but I think it is the most wonderful thing that is done with this film with this animation it's so it's not only it's brilliant.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): I I very much agree, but be animation is brilliant, so I very much agree ella and ella I know you weren't thrilled with animation at the beginning, when it was floated but were you involved in creating those animations at all.
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Ella Blumenthal: Right now, so.
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Ella Blumenthal: I got what she asked me.
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Jordy Sank: So I can speak of it to that I, I remember, we spoke to the first about the animation I mean it was it was a process, we first showed her a few pictures and then what we did is we showed her the scene, the scene with the Warsaw ghetto.
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Jordy Sank: On fire and we showed her that scene, we got the animated to do just a few seconds of that scene and that really sold that really sold me on.
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Jordy Sank: The power of what animation can do and and you know and then what we did is we kept updating and throughout the process, whenever.
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Jordy Sank: You know, we change things within the form or add a new animations and finished scenes we would always send through the form so to it was probably seen the film almost as much as, as I have.
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Jordy Sank: Which is quite a bit.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): that's great um so within these sort of within these animated sequences I was particularly struck by the butterfly imagery that is present.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): I was struck by the butterfly that is throughout the throughout the animation So could you talk a little bit about how this came to be and what the butterfly means to both you Jordi and you ll.
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Jordy Sank: hmm.
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Jordy Sank: I think for for me the butterfly, you know as a filmmaker you're always looking for visual ways to.
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Jordy Sank: You know, to show themes or two or to communicate certain messages and and for us.
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Jordy Sank: And the butterfly really was representative of many things and I actually like to pose a question in the in the chat, if I may, because I love.
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Jordy Sank: I love hearing what other people interpret the butterfly as and i've heard so many different interpretations of the butterfly of what it meant to people so i'd love to if you had a certain interpretation of what the butterfly meant i'd love for you to add to put that in the chat but.
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Jordy Sank: You know, for us, we were trying to find visual ways to communicate hook and and.
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Jordy Sank: And you know the the the gods and you know he starts his foot and it's almost like hope is crushed and then towards the end is butterflies emerging you know qantas butterflies emerging.
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Jordy Sank: But you know i've heard i've heard many and interpretation, so I think that's the beauty of film as well, we all look at the same image and we are able to.
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Jordy Sank: You know, create different meanings from our from our own perspectives and ella ella What did the butterfly and I guess what did what did you think of the butterfly or what are the butterfly mean to you.
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Ella Blumenthal: Oh, I agree with you entirely, what you said everything I think of and how I feel about the butterfly.
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Ella Blumenthal: Exactly there's nothing i've got to edom.
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Ella Blumenthal: It up spot exactly.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Was there any significance to the butterfly being blue instead of any other color.
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Jordy Sank: So the week we we made the butterfly blue, because we also want it to be.
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Jordy Sank: To be somewhat symbolic of the Jewish people, so you know you know the it's almost like they're trying to you know they stop the butterfly they're trying to get rid of the Jewish people but.
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Jordy Sank: You know in terms to Warsaw and she sees these butterflies it's almost like the reemergence of the Jewish people and her trying to.
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Jordy Sank: You know flourish and spread your legacy so and just a little interesting.
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Jordy Sank: Note from that scene is that we actually intentionally placed 24 butterflies and to represent the 24 souls that that ella lost during the Holocaust, so if you actually go back to that scene and you look at you look at that moment you'll see that there's actually 24 butterflies wow.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): um so another part of the film that particularly struck me was the parts where ella is walking through the museum about the Holocaust, and especially the portion where she's watching the film and you see it wash over your face Allah.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So Allah for you What was it like going to a museum and seeing images from the Holocaust and World War Two, the you have lived through.
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Ella Blumenthal: Well, I really.
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Ella Blumenthal: was really living my life in the games and spend to get a van indicates back, but I felt that it was so important.
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Ella Blumenthal: To show it to the world that I sent my feelings now and less important more that other people can see and feel what was happening to me and to address.
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Ella Blumenthal: In those dark days.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): And Jordi as a follow up to that, first, can you tell us which museum, that is, and second.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Why was the decision be to put those those portions in the film they're they're really beautiful and striking, but I wonder the thought behind that.
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Jordy Sank: Sure, so the the museum that we filmed, that is, the the Cape Town Holocaust and genocide Center.
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Jordy Sank: Which.
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Jordy Sank: You know ella ella worked very closely with, but especially before covert ella was giving talks to schools.
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Jordy Sank: You know, almost weekly and she would she's been extremely pivotal in in all of the events that take place at the Cape Town Holocaust and genocide Center so for us it was important, it was an important place to to include within the form because it had.
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Jordy Sank: It had significance to ella and but but, as you saying you know there were some extremely striking.
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Jordy Sank: images, that is, you know there's a Nazi flag thats hanging there there's sort of a mural of the ghetto there's.
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Jordy Sank: A projection of the of the cattle cars, and you know, for us, we wanted to to see la in the space to to, and you know, to see if if something with her being in that space might might.
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Jordy Sank: You know sort of might help us develop the story and and it's most certainly did.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): yeah um so I want to talk about sort of the finished product of the film.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): ella how did you react when you saw the finished the finished product of the film.
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Ella Blumenthal: I was, I was very proud.
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Ella Blumenthal: The story of my life and of thousands and millions of outlets that went through people that survived that please.
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Ella Blumenthal: could see that we were not forgotten that we.
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Ella Blumenthal: We still hear.
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Ella Blumenthal: people remember.
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Ella Blumenthal: Never forgets nothing.
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Ella Blumenthal: Not one now.
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Ella Blumenthal: Do not forget, but look what happened now.
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Ella Blumenthal: In in in Russia and Ukraine, I don't forget.
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Ella Blumenthal: it's also got now and they said don't arms.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): And I know your family also plays a large role in the film, how did they react when they saw it.
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Ella Blumenthal: They were very proud of me that I was chosen, one of the survivors to be.
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Ella Blumenthal: Showing to the world.
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Ella Blumenthal: So they were put out of me.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): I bet and Jordi I know this was, I believe this was your first kind of full length production, so how did that feel for you upon kind of completion of that.
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Jordy Sank: You know the process of making this film it's it's you know I really wanted to make the film and I wanted to share a story, and I must say I didn't realize just how intense firstly dealing with the Holocaust.
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Jordy Sank: You know, when you making a form it's a long process, we worked on the phone for about two years.
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Jordy Sank: Until it was finished and you know we were dealing with other stories and the Holocaust almost daily so so finishing the film was just the most incredible feeling, but I think, even more so.
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Jordy Sank: Having no be happy with the finished product, we were we were always.
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Jordy Sank: You know, we could we could have gone out and we could have made whatever film, we wanted to make, but we wanted a film that ella could say, this is my life story.
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Jordy Sank: And i'm proud of it, and I want to share it with the world and, and you know for for us and the whole crew behind the phone, that is, you know that's hearing that from her that's that's the most incredible thing about the phone is that she is that she's proud of it.
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Ella Blumenthal: I am I.
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Ella Blumenthal: Am.
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Ella Blumenthal: I must say that I, I felt that you've chosen me to show the world really what has been happening with me, one of the few.
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Ella Blumenthal: survivors alive, but I could you showed exactly what has been happening how I survived.
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Ella Blumenthal: I need for.
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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): yeah and our art were there any scenes or moments that you had to cut from the film that you wish, you could have left in.
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Jordy Sank: So many the when we when we took it as a testimony we sat with it for two days hearing hearing her life story, and you know when we edited or first edits of the form.
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Jordy Sank: of her telling a story landed up being seven hours and we had to condense those seven hours into a film, that is not 72 minutes.
00:26:59.430 --> 00:27:00.060
Jordy Sank: So.
00:27:00.270 --> 00:27:12.270
Jordy Sank: there's so many wonderful stories about her child in in in Warsaw and after the war, her and her having to be a bit of a smuggler in Paris.
00:27:12.720 --> 00:27:24.720
Jordy Sank: And you know there's so many interesting stories and all in between there's also so many incredible stories that weren't putting off of surviving in the concentration camps that we really had to be selective.
00:27:25.200 --> 00:27:34.230
Jordy Sank: and find the best stories, for the time frame that we wanted to produce the phone for so yeah I love all of his stories and I wish we could have.
00:27:35.370 --> 00:27:41.820
Jordy Sank: made a seven hour documentary but I thought we would have so many people watching it, it was that long.
00:27:43.650 --> 00:27:52.980
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): I certainly would watch it I I think I would I would love to hear those stories, so I think we'll need a sequel one day.
00:27:53.700 --> 00:27:54.480
Ella Blumenthal: One day.
00:27:54.870 --> 00:27:55.200
00:27:57.690 --> 00:28:02.760
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So you know we are, we are many years out from the Holocaust.
00:28:04.290 --> 00:28:15.090
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So why is it important to tell this story now in you know I know the film was made before 22 but for our moment now.
00:28:17.460 --> 00:28:20.280
Ella Blumenthal: Is it me if you ask because.
00:28:23.010 --> 00:28:46.230
Ella Blumenthal: I felt that this it's never too late i've been telling this story actually when my children were growing up and I felt better, they would understand this is when I was already, so this is not the first time that I was telling my story to God.
00:28:50.820 --> 00:28:58.200
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So, Jordan, you had heard it, I think we said at the beginning, you had heard this store her stories multiple times before right.
00:28:58.860 --> 00:29:10.140
Jordy Sank: Yes, yes, and I think, to add on what I was saying, I think, for the times that we experiencing now what's going on in the world, people have not.
00:29:10.860 --> 00:29:23.580
Jordy Sank: Let people say you know the Holocaust is old news, and you know it's not relevant, but just look at the headlines and look what's happening in the news in front of our eyes, people have not learned.
00:29:23.970 --> 00:29:39.780
Jordy Sank: from history and people have not learned what hatred when it's pushed to the extreme can do and and this film and ella's message of tolerance and a message of of people coming to to.
00:29:40.530 --> 00:29:48.330
Jordy Sank: I think, and I don't put words in your mouth, but I think you said so beautifully that people need to understand one another, people need to meet.
00:29:48.570 --> 00:30:02.880
Jordy Sank: They need to find grounds to understand one another and through understanding, we can learn to respect one another, we can learn to love one another and then ultimately they can be some sort of peace and unity in the world and.
00:30:04.200 --> 00:30:12.840
Jordy Sank: So it I don't know if you want to add on to to to that on I don't know if you want to add on to your message of of peace and tolerance.
00:30:16.620 --> 00:30:35.220
Ella Blumenthal: I, I want to add them, as you said, my messages don't hate around that gets together and exchange your views and you will find that there is walk that unites us that divides us.
00:30:38.430 --> 00:30:40.440
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): I oh go ahead.
00:30:41.160 --> 00:30:52.740
Jordy Sank: Sorry just just what it was saying that also just sparked something in my mind and in South Africa, a number of years ago we had a social media influencer.
00:30:53.160 --> 00:31:02.850
Jordy Sank: That put out the most terrible things about the Holocaust and the Jews and saying hit there was right, and you know the most terrible rhetoric.
00:31:03.360 --> 00:31:13.350
Jordy Sank: And ella reached out to this woman, you know she could have sworn it or she could have you know shown hatred to this woman, but she reached out to this woman.
00:31:13.800 --> 00:31:24.450
Jordy Sank: was an honor friendship and told this woman that she wants to meet with her and that she wants to talk with her and that you know they can find something that they agree on, and they can learn from one another.
00:31:24.810 --> 00:31:41.640
Jordy Sank: And, and I think that's also the beauty in ella you know she she just wants to bring nations people together and I just I just wish the world could learn from his message, because then the world would be the most incredible beautiful place.
00:31:43.710 --> 00:31:44.280
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): I.
00:31:44.460 --> 00:31:47.790
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): agree yeah I very much agree and.
00:31:49.440 --> 00:31:58.740
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So that sort of brings us to the end of the questions I had, so I think we'll move on to some audience questions and we do we've been getting a lot.
00:31:59.250 --> 00:32:11.520
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So I kind of want to start off with a someone has asked if we can elaborate on ella being a smuggler in Paris if there's any stories that could be told about that.
00:32:15.390 --> 00:32:15.870
Ella Blumenthal: Really.
00:32:16.380 --> 00:32:17.370
Ella Blumenthal: Waiting for us.
00:32:18.480 --> 00:32:27.750
Ella Blumenthal: When it's right to bring it into light, because although it's it's it's old and become put waiting.
00:32:29.520 --> 00:32:30.570
Ella Blumenthal: In the cocoa.
00:32:33.930 --> 00:32:36.780
Ella Blumenthal: I was working for a for a main.
00:32:37.920 --> 00:32:41.820
Ella Blumenthal: Who was smuggling, a violent a.
00:32:43.290 --> 00:32:44.130
Jordy Sank: currency.
00:32:44.940 --> 00:32:46.470
Ella Blumenthal: That means foreign currency.
00:32:46.980 --> 00:32:47.700
Ella Blumenthal: And the way.
00:32:48.030 --> 00:32:55.380
Ella Blumenthal: They were diplomats coming from different countries, which I will not going to bring it up and I used to.
00:32:56.190 --> 00:33:11.040
Ella Blumenthal: Go to the to the table when they were staying and I was picking up a bus and I was exchange, in exchange, I brought something else which I fact thing and then my underwear and this was my job.
00:33:13.290 --> 00:33:21.120
Ella Blumenthal: I was getting paid for it because I was honest and I was doing the job, but one day.
00:33:22.710 --> 00:33:23.970
Ella Blumenthal: Unfortunately.
00:33:24.990 --> 00:33:29.820
Ella Blumenthal: I was following some people who went up onto the first floor.
00:33:31.020 --> 00:33:35.280
Ella Blumenthal: Because I knew that they were exchanging exchanging a.
00:33:36.900 --> 00:33:44.910
Ella Blumenthal: Different currency because they walk down the street up and down reports on the air and family and.
00:33:46.350 --> 00:33:55.260
Ella Blumenthal: I saw them walking up, so I decided one day to follow them and see what's going on, maybe I can do the same for myself.
00:33:56.310 --> 00:33:56.790
00:33:58.170 --> 00:34:02.370
Ella Blumenthal: Unfortunately, as I got the police.
00:34:03.960 --> 00:34:21.510
Ella Blumenthal: As stuck as nobody could leave the premises and they asked me what are you doing here, I said I don't know I saw people walking up and down, so I also followed.
00:34:22.260 --> 00:34:22.830
Ella Blumenthal: They didn't.
00:34:22.860 --> 00:34:26.280
Ella Blumenthal: Trust me they said, where do you live.
00:34:29.430 --> 00:34:41.670
Ella Blumenthal: And the police car I took him to the place when I was living in a room on the fourth or fifth floor and they came up and they looked.
00:34:43.080 --> 00:34:45.780
Ella Blumenthal: They searched there wasn't much.
00:34:47.280 --> 00:34:50.370
Ella Blumenthal: So they let me go but.
00:34:52.320 --> 00:34:53.940
Ella Blumenthal: Fortunately for me.
00:34:55.680 --> 00:34:58.380
Ella Blumenthal: I had on the fireplace.
00:34:59.430 --> 00:35:06.540
Ella Blumenthal: Some jazz with different beings that I used to get from the American.
00:35:10.110 --> 00:35:13.920
Ella Blumenthal: They they used to send food for for us for survivors.
00:35:15.330 --> 00:35:24.210
Ella Blumenthal: So I had inside whatnot two pieces of foreign currency of Russian gold pieces.
00:35:25.320 --> 00:35:29.220
Ella Blumenthal: I will they saw the beans and they never thought.
00:35:30.330 --> 00:35:33.690
Ella Blumenthal: That that would be day, and so they let me have.
00:35:35.820 --> 00:35:40.950
Ella Blumenthal: I was, I was very lucky did you see did you understand what happened.
00:35:41.940 --> 00:35:43.080
Ella Blumenthal: yeah with the police.
00:35:44.280 --> 00:35:44.640
Jordy Sank: huh.
00:35:44.730 --> 00:35:47.550
Ella Blumenthal: I had some jazz with food.
00:35:49.650 --> 00:35:53.910
Ella Blumenthal: To jazz I had pieces of foreign currency.
00:35:54.990 --> 00:35:57.330
Ella Blumenthal: I was lacking that they look.
00:36:00.420 --> 00:36:01.350
Jordy Sank: smarter them.
00:36:01.770 --> 00:36:04.050
Jordy Sank: Yes, for them.
00:36:06.330 --> 00:36:19.290
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): um so another question that we have from the audience is a ella how old were you when you first shared your story and what was that, like, for you.
00:36:21.150 --> 00:36:29.220
Ella Blumenthal: First of all, when I first started talking about my story was about a I don't know how many years ago.
00:36:30.960 --> 00:36:31.530
Ella Blumenthal: Maybe.
00:36:32.730 --> 00:36:51.480
Ella Blumenthal: 15 years ago 20 years ago, maybe I started slowly I didn't know I couldn't put them together and, eventually, as I was talking, it became much easier and and and and I remembered more, and now I can just.
00:36:53.550 --> 00:36:56.580
Ella Blumenthal: Talk to you can you details.
00:36:57.870 --> 00:36:59.640
Ella Blumenthal: from any any time.
00:37:03.540 --> 00:37:05.640
Ella Blumenthal: Not only from the beginning but.
00:37:05.670 --> 00:37:10.230
Ella Blumenthal: In the middle anytime you want, so please ask me if you want to.
00:37:11.040 --> 00:37:15.120
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Okay, so we we do then have a question about.
00:37:16.470 --> 00:37:28.890
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): which I was addressed in in the film, but I think we can also address it here what was your life, like in the camps, can you just talk about that a bit.
00:37:30.120 --> 00:37:30.600
Ella Blumenthal: Yes.
00:37:32.280 --> 00:37:41.100
Ella Blumenthal: They do, first of all I wasn't the Warsaw ghetto and from then I will send to my dominic in my dominic.
00:37:42.540 --> 00:37:43.260
Ella Blumenthal: I work.
00:37:44.790 --> 00:37:57.630
Ella Blumenthal: with other girls and one day they took us over they send us over from the main woman skims to the main skin there was just.
00:37:58.890 --> 00:37:59.100
00:38:00.870 --> 00:38:06.510
Ella Blumenthal: few hundred and we was very unusual so some main.
00:38:09.000 --> 00:38:20.160
Ella Blumenthal: Jewish when heard that Jewish girls in in the main, skin, so they gave some some of them ran a year to date at.
00:38:21.930 --> 00:38:40.080
Ella Blumenthal: blockers and they asked us have you read one of them is our one have you seen my wife sorta like she was wearing a Florida blue dress another man, maybe you've seen my my my little girl.
00:38:41.100 --> 00:38:52.260
Ella Blumenthal: Jenny she had laughing blue eyes and of course I could read couldn't answer them in any case, the gods of chase them out.
00:38:53.910 --> 00:38:54.900
Ella Blumenthal: And this was.
00:38:56.280 --> 00:38:58.980
Ella Blumenthal: In the in the daytime and at night.
00:39:00.180 --> 00:39:03.420
Ella Blumenthal: When it was so quiet, we were sitting.
00:39:05.400 --> 00:39:06.000
Ella Blumenthal: Around.
00:39:07.050 --> 00:39:10.110
Ella Blumenthal: On the floor against the wall.
00:39:11.130 --> 00:39:13.620
Ella Blumenthal: And then we had an order to get up.
00:39:16.020 --> 00:39:16.560
Ella Blumenthal: And do.
00:39:17.760 --> 00:39:24.300
Ella Blumenthal: The Nazis case that's out and it was really quite the night was.
00:39:25.380 --> 00:39:27.960
Ella Blumenthal: Just peaceful you couldn't hear.
00:39:29.130 --> 00:39:30.210
Ella Blumenthal: Anything a flight.
00:39:31.230 --> 00:39:32.310
Ella Blumenthal: flight through.
00:39:33.420 --> 00:39:41.340
Ella Blumenthal: And really chased into a bath house with which, in reality, was a guest chamber.
00:39:44.550 --> 00:39:45.330
Ella Blumenthal: When we.
00:39:46.350 --> 00:39:49.440
Ella Blumenthal: With the heavy doors shut behind us.
00:39:50.730 --> 00:39:58.230
Ella Blumenthal: We knew that invoice events guess would come down any second any minute.
00:39:59.730 --> 00:40:00.540
Ella Blumenthal: From the.
00:40:02.460 --> 00:40:09.060
Ella Blumenthal: from the top, and I was there with my niece a holding hey.
00:40:10.530 --> 00:40:12.150
Ella Blumenthal: I listened to her.
00:40:13.980 --> 00:40:15.240
Ella Blumenthal: don't be afraid.
00:40:16.440 --> 00:40:17.790
Ella Blumenthal: It won't hurt.
00:40:19.620 --> 00:40:21.030
Ella Blumenthal: To take long.
00:40:22.050 --> 00:40:23.280
Ella Blumenthal: We will assume.
00:40:24.480 --> 00:40:26.490
Ella Blumenthal: you're in our loved ones.
00:40:27.750 --> 00:40:28.890
Ella Blumenthal: As we said it.
00:40:30.420 --> 00:40:32.040
Ella Blumenthal: As I said, they do have.
00:40:34.080 --> 00:40:38.010
Ella Blumenthal: The door open and it says when marching.
00:40:39.120 --> 00:40:42.990
Ella Blumenthal: Through and quiet you're not going to be against.
00:40:44.610 --> 00:40:49.410
Ella Blumenthal: Tomorrow at dawn you're going to be sent to another camp.
00:40:52.590 --> 00:40:53.700
Ella Blumenthal: And so it was.
00:40:54.720 --> 00:41:11.670
Ella Blumenthal: at dawn we were chased out and we were told by some Jewish prisoners who were on the platform on the main way that that we are very lucky that we realized, and the reason that we are out.
00:41:13.680 --> 00:41:14.790
Ella Blumenthal: Is because.
00:41:16.080 --> 00:41:19.890
Ella Blumenthal: The Nazis received an order.
00:41:21.270 --> 00:41:31.320
Ella Blumenthal: to guess 500 Jewish women and not seven and that we were as the German says so precise.
00:41:32.430 --> 00:41:34.650
Ella Blumenthal: Everything must be correct.
00:41:37.020 --> 00:41:40.440
Ella Blumenthal: We will let out and we saw.
00:41:41.460 --> 00:41:45.540
Ella Blumenthal: A contingent of women getting off the trains.
00:41:47.250 --> 00:41:54.030
Ella Blumenthal: And they let the way let straight into the gas Chamber we had just left.
00:41:58.380 --> 00:41:58.920
Ella Blumenthal: And then.
00:41:59.400 --> 00:42:03.390
Ella Blumenthal: Within the same drains will extend to our speech.
00:42:05.820 --> 00:42:21.450
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): I like your your bravery, in the face of all this is just so inspiring and I mean it's such a harrowing story to hear but it's so it's amazing the things that you were able to to endure.
00:42:22.740 --> 00:42:31.560
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So I would also like to talk a little bit about we we mentioned earlier that Liu had.
00:42:32.640 --> 00:42:46.080
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): offered to meet with that social media influencer in South Africa, who was saying such terrible things um did she ever take you up on that, and if so, how did that meeting go.
00:42:48.450 --> 00:42:50.760
Ella Blumenthal: i'm not quite sure what the question was.
00:42:51.840 --> 00:42:59.070
Jordy Sank: The question was with the social media influencer yet did you did you ever meet to get a response from her.
00:43:00.540 --> 00:43:01.740
Ella Blumenthal: Probably this woman.
00:43:02.340 --> 00:43:03.660
Jordy Sank: From the yes, the South Africa.
00:43:04.590 --> 00:43:07.680
Ella Blumenthal: i've never heard of it, she didn't have the guts.
00:43:10.260 --> 00:43:14.070
Ella Blumenthal: To have sent me because she she felt that she will lose.
00:43:16.950 --> 00:43:19.590
Ella Blumenthal: yeah so he gets sick quite.
00:43:20.760 --> 00:43:22.140
Ella Blumenthal: hiding place.
00:43:24.300 --> 00:43:40.590
Jordy Sank: If any if anyone wants to look online if you it's it's there for everyone to read, but interrupt the most beautiful open letter to her asking you know begging her to to meet and still know still no response.
00:43:40.740 --> 00:43:42.480
Ella Blumenthal: No reaction now.
00:43:42.870 --> 00:43:55.740
Ella Blumenthal: Now I did ask you to come and meet me over a cup of tea, so we can talk and exchange of us and i'm sure that we will, we will understand each other better.
00:43:59.670 --> 00:44:03.960
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): ella that's amazing that you made that offer and.
00:44:05.100 --> 00:44:08.040
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): I think really shows your your strength of character.
00:44:10.440 --> 00:44:21.630
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): But I also would like we brought up earlier, the what's happening in Ukraine, right now, and especially recently the Bob and the bombing of Bobby Yar.
00:44:22.740 --> 00:44:31.590
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Is that bringing up any memories of what happened to you and is what I just wonder your thoughts on that situation.
00:44:32.850 --> 00:44:34.470
Ella Blumenthal: What happened to Bobby.
00:44:36.840 --> 00:44:41.610
Ella Blumenthal: I I wasn't there, we only heard it all after the war.
00:44:44.670 --> 00:44:46.320
Ella Blumenthal: And then just comment on it.
00:44:47.370 --> 00:44:49.680
Jordy Sank: So just to just to clarify the.
00:44:50.700 --> 00:44:52.890
Jordy Sank: What Sydney is talking about is the current.
00:44:54.480 --> 00:44:54.990
Jordy Sank: Currently.
00:44:55.350 --> 00:44:57.540
Jordy Sank: happening in the UK and.
00:44:58.650 --> 00:45:01.290
Jordy Sank: If it brings back any memories, for you.
00:45:01.380 --> 00:45:06.300
Ella Blumenthal: What what I would like to to say is that there is no.
00:45:07.620 --> 00:45:08.550
Ella Blumenthal: It looks like.
00:45:10.020 --> 00:45:21.870
Ella Blumenthal: there's no way that the two countries, the representatives can talk to each other and exchange their views and see what they want and.
00:45:23.580 --> 00:45:26.430
Ella Blumenthal: They just come and fight.
00:45:29.760 --> 00:45:40.800
Ella Blumenthal: that's all they know way of of exchanging views information, what do you want, what do you think, how can we.
00:45:41.910 --> 00:45:48.600
Ella Blumenthal: get together to to to discuss to see nothing just two arms.
00:45:51.690 --> 00:46:06.840
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): And Li also want to ask how do you feel towards Germany and other countries that were involved in the Holocaust today what what are your feelings about that now.
00:46:08.310 --> 00:46:08.580
00:46:10.110 --> 00:46:15.960
Ella Blumenthal: I want to tell you how I honestly honestly feel.
00:46:19.140 --> 00:46:19.440
Ella Blumenthal: That.
00:46:20.550 --> 00:46:25.710
Ella Blumenthal: The present generation of Germans.
00:46:29.580 --> 00:46:36.720
Ella Blumenthal: are not really guilty of this terrible and.
00:46:39.060 --> 00:46:42.720
Ella Blumenthal: I met this X that we're.
00:46:43.980 --> 00:46:46.860
Ella Blumenthal: On is that it's.
00:46:48.360 --> 00:47:05.910
Ella Blumenthal: it's there for fathers grandfathers great grandfather's, how can I, how can I blame them like I had visitors here a little while ago, the console and and and.
00:47:07.230 --> 00:47:25.290
Ella Blumenthal: And the Council came and they were so nice and and and so and then spending like they felt I could feel that they feel sorry for what their their their families, their grandfathers have them.
00:47:28.650 --> 00:47:29.790
Ella Blumenthal: That taffy.
00:47:32.310 --> 00:47:34.050
Ella Blumenthal: laid them the present.
00:47:36.240 --> 00:47:37.440
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): their faith.
00:47:37.620 --> 00:47:42.840
Ella Blumenthal: That came to us choose spatially to Israel.
00:47:43.800 --> 00:47:44.220
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): mm hmm.
00:47:46.200 --> 00:47:51.750
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): I think that's really that's really beautiful sentiment ella and I that's.
00:47:53.550 --> 00:47:56.130
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): yeah that's just very profound I think.
00:47:58.320 --> 00:48:03.990
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So we're you know we're getting towards the end of our hour, but I do want to ask.
00:48:06.270 --> 00:48:16.530
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Since this is sort of the last generation that will be able to meet Holocaust survivors and speak to speak to them in person.
00:48:17.700 --> 00:48:30.480
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Jordi I wonder for you, what do you hope that people will will take from from Holocaust survivors and from your film and from ella.
00:48:31.500 --> 00:48:32.730
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): into the future.
00:48:36.270 --> 00:48:37.380
Jordy Sank: So so.
00:48:38.730 --> 00:48:40.290
Jordy Sank: You know, like you said.
00:48:41.700 --> 00:48:53.760
Jordy Sank: there's very limited amount of of Holocaust survivors that are still alive today and, through this film, you know i'm almost wanting to immortalize.
00:48:54.330 --> 00:49:08.670
Jordy Sank: ella so that future generations, you know we'll be able to learn from her will be able to empathize and understand what she went through during the Holocaust, and you know my biggest.
00:49:09.540 --> 00:49:20.490
Jordy Sank: I guess my biggest goal with this project is to create a form that the younger generations can can sort of feel that there's an onus on them to.
00:49:21.120 --> 00:49:30.750
Jordy Sank: To pass on to their children, and you know the memory of what happened during the Holocaust and and also for futures to to never you know.
00:49:31.170 --> 00:49:44.370
Jordy Sank: Like we said, this is it's unfortunate that we feel that was and and and hatred are you know they're happening in front of our eyes, but I feel like the younger generations who hopefully will watch the film and learn.
00:49:45.120 --> 00:49:59.130
Jordy Sank: English messages of love and tolerance, hopefully, they can create a future that is a lot brighter and weather is understanding and and love, rather than rather than hate.
00:50:01.650 --> 00:50:06.180
Ella Blumenthal: I agree, I fully agree, if we can only get.
00:50:07.890 --> 00:50:25.020
Ella Blumenthal: It sitting down one of the data in exchange and tell us what is how do we feel what should be done, but not to wait we've done now, with Russia, we are you crying just two hours.
00:50:27.930 --> 00:50:28.140
Ella Blumenthal: and
00:50:28.170 --> 00:50:28.920
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): I oh.
00:50:30.180 --> 00:50:41.670
Ella Blumenthal: Maybe I just tell you I think you're going to finish up, I just want to tell you, before you we say goodbye, for now, for now.
00:50:43.320 --> 00:50:51.150
Ella Blumenthal: That when I was in the camps specially in in Auschwitz, I said.
00:50:52.500 --> 00:50:56.130
Ella Blumenthal: I am not going to give in, I want to live.
00:50:57.870 --> 00:51:00.600
Ella Blumenthal: out to survive, whatever.
00:51:01.740 --> 00:51:04.050
Ella Blumenthal: It caught my hands I.
00:51:05.850 --> 00:51:09.150
Ella Blumenthal: am not ready to die in I want.
00:51:10.410 --> 00:51:14.190
Ella Blumenthal: I want to stay alive, I want to tell the world.
00:51:15.210 --> 00:51:18.780
Ella Blumenthal: If I survive and I tried a drive.
00:51:20.340 --> 00:51:27.660
Ella Blumenthal: And i'm here to talk to you today, you that I am here.
00:51:30.330 --> 00:51:52.440
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Well, I think that is as good a place to end as we can get and I want to say ella Thank you so much, your strength of spirit and just your beautiful positive energy is so amazing and I, you know I could talk to you for hours and hours, and I hope we get the chance to speak again and.
00:51:52.860 --> 00:51:53.910
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Dirty I want to say.
00:51:54.030 --> 00:52:09.840
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Thank you for making this film and making it available to share with the world so everybody gets to know ella and i'd like to thank all of you out there who are joining us today and just say that every.
00:52:10.920 --> 00:52:15.390
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): vm is made possible through donor support and to those of you watching.
00:52:16.050 --> 00:52:27.630
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): We hope you will consider making a donation to support the museum or becoming a member and joining us for upcoming programs, which you can all check out at our website.
00:52:28.110 --> 00:52:48.390
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): I would like to thank ella and Jordi again ella just think Thank you so much, and Jordan, thank you, this has been great and we're getting so many amazing comments coming in, as well, so have a great afternoon to all of you in the States and we'll talk soon hopefully.
00:52:49.530 --> 00:52:50.760
Jordy Sank: Thank you, thank you so much.
00:52:53.400 --> 00:52:53.910
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): By.
00:52:53.970 --> 00:52:55.950
Ella Blumenthal: The audience to listen to me.
00:52:56.400 --> 00:52:57.330
Ella Blumenthal: And God.
00:52:59.550 --> 00:53:00.750
Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Thank you Ella.
Learn More About the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
When Ella was a young woman, she witnessed the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising started on April 19, 1943 and lasted almost a month until May 16, 1943. During this time, 750 fighters fought well-armed German troops. After the uprising, 56,000 Jews were captured from the ghetto by the Germans. Learn more about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in this encyclopedia article from the USHMM.
Hear From Other Polish Holocaust Survivors
Elizabeth Bellak (née Ariana Spiegel) was born in 1930 in Stawki, Poland. Known as “the Shirley Temple of Poland,” she was a prominent child actress before World War II who went to live in Warsaw to pursue a career in film. Learn more about Elizabeth’s story in this “Stories Survive” program.
Watch Other Film Discussions From the Museum
The Museum has hosted a number of film discussions. Some recent ones include: a discussion of the award-winning and Oscar-qualified short film GANEF, a discussion about the documentary Soros, and a discussion about the film Love It Was Not.