Britain's Holocaust Survivors: Documentary Review

This one-off documentary, filmed and produced by Daisy Asquith, was shown on Holocaust Memorial Day (Sunday 27th January) to commemorate the occasion. It it a shame that Channel 4 decided to screen it on their More4 channel and go ahead with screening 'The Hotel' on their main channel at the same time, but nevertheless, hopefully acknowledgement of the day itself attracted viewers.

The 45-minute documentary involves three Holocaust survivors that moved to Britain after the war: Zigi Shipper (pictured above), Gena Turgel MBE and Freddie Knoller. They are very different characters, of different ages, but they all have some horrific things in common. Each of them was sent to Auschwitz, amongst other camps; each of them lost family and friends, and came to Britain in search of a better life.
This documentary, however, does not solely focus on the sadness and morbidity of their stories, but it shows them as they are today and how their experiences have made them who they are. Survivors are shown with their families and friends, speaking to schoolchildren, and even sitting in the pub! It gives a real sense of the individual to the viewer, which is so important in Holocaust education, and also showcases the idea of 'living history'.

Certainly, however, there are some moving moments. Gena Turgel's description of her late husband brought a few tears to my eyes, and it's wonderful to be able to see people who have been through so much with families they have created, making the most of their lives even past their 80s. Asquith's documentary is touching, inspirational and, at times, humorous. I only wish there were more worthwhile programmes such as this on TV.

You can watch the programme on the 4OD website or via YouTube. Please note, however, that the documentary will only be available on 4OD until 27th February, and unfortunately neither video may work in some countries.