NPR Story & World Interview | Dancing at Auschwitz Holocaust Concentration Camp Shows I Will Be A Survivor In This Video
Gloria Gaynor Sings and Kohn Dances
I Will Survive The Time of Terror
A search for the words "concentration camp" on hubpages to categorize your hub only turns up 'camping' themes. And, a search for "holocaust" gives but one choice of a holiday theme. Has so little been written that people will forget? Not if artist and film-maker, Jane Korman, and her ancestral Czek family has anything to say about it. She brought her three children and her 89 year old father, Adolek Kohn, who was a former prisoner of Auschwitz, to the place where her family's destiny and line could have ended in the concentration camps. Instead, they all danced!
Together they all moved to the dance of victory and joy to be among the living. Certainly, you've heard the phrase, "I'll dance on his grave" or they will "Dance on my Grave." This family gave it new meaning.
The Window To Life | Auschwitz
A Survivor's Dance
This celebration of survival through victimization and loss has stirred up mixed feelings. This family found a way to cope with a tragic period and move to a better place. Just as the flower springs forth from the ashes of the death camps, a song and dance express renewal.
Anyone who has overcome a life threatening experience knows the emotions of fear and relief. How the heart quivers during a dark trauma and then alights to the beat of the music. A number of generations later, the song, "I will survive" by Gloria Gaynor expressed their feelings and set their feet into motion. The film shows the family dancing at Dachau and Poland's Lodz ghetto. At one point, you could have heard Adolek say, "I was here," as he peeked out of the cattle car window. Memories must have flooded back. Although the world could share their ecstasy of escaping the nightmare, this story brought unexpected confusion, doubt, mixed opinions about its appropriate deliverance. Maybe because they were not part of this families personal journey, they could not step into their shoes.
Have No Fear
On every occasion Jews shed a tear for any life lost, as they rise up to celebrate the living. Many biblical stories reference this lively activity as a joyous celebration ~ a sort of victory dance! Today, the dance becomes a personal or group ritual. If it had been Holocaust Independence Day, maybe people would have been more comfortable with the connection. This small family took a personal trip back in time and let the world watch the adventure unfold. Definitely, just by returning to the scene of the murders of 6 million, they celebrated their survival and future generations of children and families.
The dance mentioned in the Bible, Mishnah, and Talmud connects the people with celebrations of military victories and spiritual rituals such as the golden calf dance, crossing the red sea, and bringing of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. I bet King David danced after slaying Goliath. Numerous archeological artifacts also illustrate dancers. Dancing expresses so much of the human soul. Some, who see this as humorous or inappropriate only speak outwardly of their own experience, bias, fear or perspective.
- ...cultural anthropologist Mark Auslander notes that while dance might be considered trivial in Western societies, throughout history it has been used to ease "human responses to traumatic loss _ from initial overpowering grief, towards mourning, towards joy in the regeneration of life."
- Reference: Victory Dances
BBC REPORT | NPR did a vignette on the short 4 minute viral video that has received more than half a million YouTube hits. I could only celebrate and dance along with these three generations who danced at Auschwitz and other Holocaust memorial sites in Europe, including the infamous rail tracks and "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign.
Associated Press Writer, Vanessa Gera, wrote an opinion piece while in Warsaw, Poland, asking, "Who has the right to dance at Auschwitz, to make light of the Holocaust, to shoot videos set amid cattle cars and gas chambers?" She says the Kohn/Korman family tested cultural taboos, although I doubt that was their intent. Expect a difference of opinions, when you post an emotionally charged video or blog on the world-wide-web, there will be people on all sides who can use it for good or bad purposes.
Perhaps no one would even have taken any notice of this tiny short film, were it not for the neo-Nazi attention, which turned the video viral.
Where is the Humor?
I have a hard time finding the humor in the film. But, others say it was done in bad taste to be so light-hearted at the scene of the crime. When you feel like crying, sometimes all you can do is laugh to take the edge off. the positive effect of going viral brings attention to this point in history, especially at a time when some say the holocaust never existed. Adolek, as one of the remaining survivors, 60-years later, has sparked a discussion and shone a light on an era that must not be forgotten.
I also learned that removed the original video and replaced it with a message saying it had been removed due to copyright issues. This is so odd that YouTube takes down videos.
Where the Hell is Matt?
Haaretz.com posted an article, "Holocaust survivor dances on the ashes of Aushwitz, but not everyone approves."
- "We came to Auschwitz with the grandchildren and created a new generation, that's why we danced," he said.
- The artist said, "My father and my mother both went through Auschwitz and this is a way they want to express their joy of being alive, of surviving, of an affirmation of their lives," she said. "My dad was overwhelmed with happiness that he could be there with his grandchildren and dance to this song of survival."
Others have toured and danced through Europe. Below a retired man visits the same locations. This type of film replicates the famous YouTube Videos of "Where the Hell is Matt?" who dances around the globe. If only more people could join in the celebration of the Kohn family, only they are gone.
A Retired Man Dancing Thru Life Poland, Hungary, & Ukraine
From the "Fog Dance, My Moth Kingdom" album (2007)
This YouTube tells another story about an era that we will say was long, long ago. Electronica composer Joshua Neil Geissler creates another form of expression depicting a haunting neoclassical melody. The instruments mimic the sounds of mandolin, piano and cello. http://www.myspace.com/worrytrain
The Worry Train | A Different Tonal Quality
Still Connected After All These Years
- Kol Nidre: Thoughts on Yom Kippur From a Nonpracticing Jew
As a non-practicing Jew, I don't celebrate Yom Kippur, but I can acknowledge the beauty of Kol Kindre. Read the poem.
A Short Film
The film below gives a brief view of what Adolek survived in the years of World War II. He records that 100 family members went to the death camps. We only know he survived from the video.
Yad Vashem Memorabilia
Holocaust Hub Links
- Irena Sendler, A Heroine of the Holocaust
Irena Sendler died in Warsaw, Poland on Monday May 12th, 2008. She passed away peacefully at the age of 98. Her death did not go unnoticed here in the United States, or elsewhere, thanks to four students in...
- Remember The Holocaust
My grandfather was a man of very few words, and much less when it came to his experiences in World War II. Later in life, this brave and valiant man tragically suffered a stroke, which caused some curious...
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