Opening Eyes

Holocaust film reaches new generation

Just for kids


April 08, 1999|By Carol Monaghan | Carol Monaghan,Chicago Tribune

Imagine if you had only five minutes to leave your home. You're not sure you'll ever return, and everything you take must weigh less than 55 pounds.

For the five Hungarian Holocaust survivors interviewed in the film "The Last Days," being marched from their homes was only the beginning of the horrors.

Survivor Renee Firestone, who was a teen at the time, grabbed her swimsuit at the last minute and put it on under her clothes. She said in the film that the beautifully patterned suit was a gift from her father and represented happier times with her family. It was the last thing she slipped off before Nazi guards at Auschwitz handed her a prison uniform. Later she learned her father, mother and sister were killed at the camp.

The film grew out of the work of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which Steven Spielberg established in 1994 after filming "Schindler's List." "The Last Days" weaves together stories told by the survivors with rare historical footage.

Cory S., 13, saw a screening of "The Last Days" and went to a press conference attended by Spielberg, the film's director and the five survivors. Cory said of the film: "When you're in school you learn about the Holocaust in general. You learn, OK, there was this bad guy who became dictator and sent 6 million people to die in the gas chambers. But watching the survivors who have lived to tell the story made me realize everyone's story is different."

Pub Date: 04/08/99

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