Betsy Klein sat with the other guests who stopped by to watch “Who Will Write Our History” at Congregation Beth Shalom on Sunday.
The documentary chronicled the stories of Jewish artists, journalists, economists and community leaders who documented the Nazi’s abuse, starvation and oppression of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto.
“It was educational, it was depressing,” Klein said. “It made me realize that if anybody denied the Holocaust, that they’re very ignorant, that they haven’t seen any of this footage.”
About 60 residents in the ghetto banded together in November 1940. Historian Emanuel Ringelblum led the group called Oyneg Shabes, and was among several writers to document the conditions and daily life. Only three members survived the end of World War II, including Rachel Auerbach, who belonged the literary elite in Poland and ran a soup kitchen inside the ghetto.
She helped to bring the story of Oyneg Shabes to life after the documents, sketches and other items were hidden away, archived beneath building foundations in Warsaw. They were later unearthed following the war’s end.
In a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise, showing this documentary was a way to show people how there are moments in history that must not be repeated, said Suzannah Warlick, director of the CBS Film Series.
Klein, who formerly worked as a teacher at Van Nuys Middle School, said she was very glad to see people attend. She said her paternal grandfather was from Łódź, Poland, the site of another ghetto.
“Education is really important to Jewish individuals now and even back then, so they were using a very strong tool that they were good at and that they had in the hopes of people in the future could find out the truth and they did it,” Klein said.
The film’s theme coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was held on May 1.
While the theme behind each CBS Film can fluctuate the number of people who attend, she felt it was the teacher in her that wanted to see the documentary and she was willing to learn.
“One of my friends is a retired history teacher from the Los Angeles Unified (School District) and she told me recently that different history teachers have emphases, and one of her emphases to her students was teaching about the Holocaust. So she’ll probably be the first one I call tonight and tell her about this, ask her if she’s heard of it.”