We Remember: Songs of Survivors, a documentary celebrating the lives of Holocaust survivors and featuring concert footage filmed at Mount Saint Mary College, will air on PBS on Tuesday, April 26 at 8 p.m.
The hour-long special will premiere the week of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on the PBS television channel, PBS.org, and the PBS Video app.
We Remember: Songs of Survivors follows four talented singer-songwriters who work for the community arts organization SageArts in the Hudson Valley. Through a program offered by Jewish Family Service of Orange County, they visit local Holocaust survivors to create original songs based on their conversations.
The film documents the relationships that develop and the songwriting process over many months, culminating in the live concert where the survivors and songwriters are celebrated by friends, family, and the community.
The Mount’s Aquinas Hall Theatre hosted this concert, “Holocaust Survivors: A Concert of Resilience and Hope,” in May of 2019. In addition to the efforts of the Jewish Family Service, SageArts, and the Mount, the event was made possible by contributions from the Jewish Federation of North America’s Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care, the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County, the Newburgh Jewish Community Center, KAVOD – Ensuring Dignity for Holocaust Survivors, and Humanities New York. More than a dozen families and businesses provided financial support.
The film focuses on in-depth interviews with four survivors:
- Friede Gorewitz was born in Romania and fled to Belgium at the age of four. As a member of the Belgium resistance, she was personally responsible for saving the lives of at least 18 children.
- Rita Schwartz was born in 1927 in Vienna. After the events of Kristallnacht, Schwartz and her family were left homeless and after trekking through the woods into Belgium, they escaped via boat to the United States in 1940.
- Tibor Spitz was born in Slovakia in 1929. At 10 years old, he was kicked out of school and forced to wear a yellow star. When Slovakia was taken over, he and his family survived for 200 days hidden in a snowy forest.
- Tommy Wald was born in 1941. At the time, his family was living in a shed on the family’s farm in France. His mother would hide him in a drawer in hopes that his life would be spared if the family was discovered. His father joined the resistance and came to America in 1951.
We Remember: Songs of Survivors was produced by Tim Miller and Ilene Cutler, and was written and edited by Timothy Guetterman.
“At a time when the world is faced with the horrors of war and hatred, we wanted to tell this hopeful story of perseverance and love,” said Cutler.
Miller added, “We wanted to shed light on the devastating experiences of Holocaust survivors while celebrating the possibilities of healing through the power of music. Little did we know this film, with its powerful message, would change the lives of both the survivors and songwriters.”