Seeing and Believing: A Review of Survivor Stories
60 minutes running time. Produced by Jews for Jesus. Available for purchase.
Video brings images to life in a way that few other forms of media can. And hardly any other theme provides as much vitality as the subject of Survivor Stories. The 60-minute documentary-style production tells in vivid detail the true accounts of several people who have at least three things in common: they are Jewish, Holocaust survivors, and have become believers in Jesus.
Many people ask the question, “How can anyone believe in God, let alone Jesus, after the Holocaust?” Survivor Stories simply allows men and women who actually endured the Holocaust to answer this question for themselves. The viewer is granted the enormous privilege of being invited, in a sense, into their living rooms. From the first close-up of Eliezer Urbach’s face as he describes his life in Poland when Hitler came to power, to Dr. Vera Schlamm’s and Rose Price’s recollections of their subhuman existence in multiple concentration camps, one cannot help but be gripped by these poignant chronicles. Especially heart-wrenching are Bob Kertesz’s account of how he escaped the Jewish ghetto of Budapest only to be sent back, and Marion Parkhurst’s encounter with the infamous Nazi butcher Dr. Josef Mengele, who visited her bedside after she delivered a baby in Bergen-Belsen.
The interviews with these remarkable people are interwoven with historical photographs and film footage. The juxtaposition of black-and-white clips with vibrant faces shining with hope as they recount their journeys before, during and after the Holocaust, does quite a bit to enhance the viewer’s sense that this is a project about faith, not despair. The well-designed graphic treatments and sensitive musical touches lend continuity to the film so that it plays more like one narrative than a series of disjointed accounts. In truth, one hour seems insufficient to do these stories justice.
While some documentaries suffer from a detached air, such is not the case with Survivor Stories. It is apparent that there was a rapport between the off-screen interviewer and the subjects. The film feels as lovingly prepared as a priceless home movie, but is professionally produced. Certainly, the people featured in Survivor Stories deserve this kind of quality as much as they merit an audience.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the value of this video is multiplied exponentially. Those of us who did not experience the Holocaust firsthand can never truly comprehend it, nor can we really understand how faith triumphs over such terror, but this reviewer is grateful for this unparalleled chance to journey deeply into the lives of these heroes. This treasure of a video will surely survive the test of time.