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documentary Movie portraying a glimpse of shtetl life during the 1930s.
Filmed in the shtetl of Horodok (Vileika region, between Vilna and Minsk).
Recorded by the family of native of Horodok : David Shapiro. David fled
Horodok as a young teenager. He came to the U. S alone and was able to accomplish
the "American dream." He became very wealthy. In 1933 David Shapiro
returned to Horodok for what turned out to be a most memorable visit. He
was accompanied by his wife, son, large sums of money and a movie camera.
Brunia nee Kur, also a native of Horodok, narrates the movie. Brunia's sister;
Lea with other members of the family owned a coffee/food store in Horodok.
David came to the store and bought all the stock for $50. David paid the
family to arrange the food in small containers and distributed the containers
amongst the population. To make sure that there would not be resentment
amongst the non-Jewish population he distributed some containers to them.
He also bought some cows for slaughter and made a huge party for the town.
He visited the store of the Retzkin family and paid all the outstanding
bills owed by the towns' people and tore the book of money owed. He bought
a beautiful Torah book for the synagogue. The entire Jewish population gathered
at the rabbis' House (the Rabbi (later killed in Vilna), Shochet [Garber]
and their families are shown many times in the movie) When the book was
ready to be taken to the temple, holding the Torah they danced in the streets
all the way to the synagogue. Before the Shapiro family left Horodok they
gave each person in the community $5. Brunias' family with seven members
received $35. With the Rabbi they left $1000 to be used for brides. Each
bride received $20 upon her marriage. Every year before Passover any family
who sent a letter to the Shapiro family in America received $20. The movie
starts with the children being served milk and bagels by David Shapiro.
Later in the movie we see the kids in uniforms representing the Zionists
youth movements they are members of. We see about equal numbers of members
of the Socialist Zionist movement Hashomer Hatzair as the right
wing members of Bitar. The leader of Bitar in the area of Horodok
at that time was Menachem Begin, Retzkin told me that sometimes Begin would
stay at their house when he visited Horodok. We also see Gershon Zofen whose
horse was so sick and old that David Shapiro immediately bought a young
and strong horse for him. The movie ends with picture of a family with young
kids who had some cousins in the U. S.
That family with their five kids later perished.
About 900 of the Jews of Horodok were slaughtered on July 11th 1942. The Germans made a selection The older Jews, invalids and children were sent immediately to death.(some of the mothers ignored the Germans orders and chose to join their kids, amongst them was the first wife of Brunias husband) The Germans enclosed them inside a barn, shot them and burned it. You could read about the last days of Jewish Horodok at; http://www.eilatgordinlevitan.com/krasne/kne_pages/kne_stories_shullif.html
Most of the kids we see in the movie (most kids were teenagers and young adults by 1942) as well as some of the teachers (some of the teachers are from the Katz family) and the other adults, perished in 1943 in the near by Krasne (amongst them were five members of Brunias family). The Germans established a work camp in the near- by shtetl ; Krasne, a crossroads junction midway between Molodetshno and Radoshkovitsh, where able Jews from by then annihilated communities of Volozhin, Mir, Lida, Novogrudok, Horodok and other places were brought to maintain the railroad and do other type of labor for the Germans. Some of them (including Brunia) escaped and joined the Russian partisans and fought the Germans.
Another native of Horodok who survived the holocaust; Moshe Baran (born in 1919) told me that some years ago he visited Yisrael Garbe,r the son of the Shochet of Horodok. Yisrael also survived the holocaust and now lives in New York. Yisrael had the movie that was made in Horodok in 1933 by David Shapira..
Moshe knew that the film must be for more then a personal use. He transferred it to a video and sent copies to Horodok natives in Israel and also gave copies to Jewish organizations. The video Horodok could be ordered for $30 at;
"Image Before My Eyes," is the name of a 90-minute film about Jewish life in the Pale of Settlement between the two World Wars. The video includes some, but not all, of the footage from the Horodok silent video, as well as some different footage of what was obviously the same visit. This excerpt also includes interviews, segments on other locations and on other topics, including the wooden synagogues, of which so very few remain. The modern parts are in color, and the entire 90-minutes is also available through The National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis.
Moshe told me that there are other videos of
Resistance and Stories of Jewish Partisans that he (and some other partisans from the area of Horodok and other areas ) detail their battle first for survival and then for revenge in the towns and forests of Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus between 1941 and 1945.
Horodok movie in English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvu0bj5GadU
|Hi there !
Today is a big day for the Horodokers. We finally received, from the disc duplicating service, the new movie (DVD) on Horodok -- based on interviews of Horodokers living in Israel.
This movie was done voluntarily and its editing and duplication was funded by donations and the Israel Horodok Society. It has been 4 years in the making, and everyone of the Horodokers here in Israel has been waiting for it! It is 55 minutes in length - condensed from 20 something hours of interviews! There is so much important information in those 20+ hours and it was very difficult to choose.
The movie covers the period 1920 to 1945. The movie includes family photos from those we interviewed, extracts from the David Shapiro original movie (we were able to identify the Rabbi and the head of the Jewish Bank) and also clips from a video we made on a visit there in 1997.
The interviewers tell us about:
• the general description of the village
• the village economy and the all-important weekly market
• the cultural life
• religious and community life
• education - secular, Hebrew and religious
• political movements and Zionist youth group activities
• the background story to David Shapiro, his visit has his movie
• the period of Russian occupation 1939 - 1941
• the Nazi invasion in 1941
• the Horodok ghetto and the slaughter in 1942
• the Horodok partisans and their revenge in 1943
• post-war and the annual memorial service in Israel
The film is both very powerful and poignant as it gives an excellent picture of vibrant Jewish & Zionist life, pre-war, and emotional with the personal horrors and the bravery of the survivors (all partisans). It is a testimony to the strength and courage of the survivors.
While we have also produced the DVD in the USA format (for those Horodokers living in the USA who speak Hebrew), at this time it is only in Hebrew as there are no funds available to do the translation and including the sub-titles. The DVD is available for a donation to the Israel Horodok Society of $50 per copy.
We are also hoping to find donors to enable us to both (i) have the translation and sub-titles added and (ii) to distribute the movie to educational institutions, museums, and film festivals interested in Jewish life in the Pale of Settlement pre-war, the Holocaust and the Partisans.
We'll be pleased to give anyone interested more details.
Tierza Amizur-Berman - film-maker and daughter of a Horodoker
The DVD is available with English and Russian sub-titles, in either PAL or NTSC formats.