(January 12, 2022 / JNS) A Nazi almost murdered Anita Karl for the sin of trying to have a piece of chocolate.
The German asked Karl and her cousin if they wanted a piece of candy. Her cousin was quicker; he sat her on his lap, handed her a piece of chocolate with one hand, took his gun out in his other hand and did something inexplicable.
This is one of several highly traumatic stories in the powerful new documentary “Against All Odds: Surviving the Holocaust.” Karl would be one of only 200 out of 150,000 Jews in the Lvov ghetto to survive.
Directed and produced by Paul Bachow, the film—to be shown as part of the Miami Jewish Film Festival on Jan. 14—showcases the story of Karl and three other survivors. This no-frills documentary is simple and doesn’t boast a big budget. It doesn’t need to. It is an extremely potent film that makes you feel like the survivors are your family members telling their miraculous stories in your own living room.
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Karl was staying in a home with a gentile woman when she saw a teenage boy shot and killed, his blood splattering the window. She asked the woman what took place.
“Oh, don’t worry; he’s just a Jew,” Karl recounts the woman as telling her, not knowing her true religion.
Because Karl’s mother had gone to a public school and had stayed for Catholic-school classes, she was able to convince authorities that she was Catholic and used an ingenious plan on a train to overcome the problem of not having documents to prove she was not a Jew.
Karl and her mother would see Jews that had been hanged to death with signs that read: “This is what happens to the Jews who try to escape.”
A cooked piece of potato peel
Gerald Beigel was one of three family members who survived, while 32 were murdered by the Nazis; and his mother and sister were on the last train to Auschwitz. Living in Berlin, his parents thought of Adolf Hitler as “crazy” and didn’t think he would last long in power. Of course, they were wrong.
Still, they attempted to get a visa for America but were told they would not receive it until 1947 or 1948. And so, he took off his Jewish star and went out, risking his life to go to the movies on many occasions.
When he eventually ended up at a death camp, despite being told to go to the left—meaning the gas chambers, he ran after his brother, who was told to go to the right. He survived two death marches, and after his leg was wounded and a doctor said they would have to amputate it, he said he’d rather die than have them do so. Beigel also recalls on his 17th birthday, he and his father celebrated with the only food they had: a cooked piece of potato peel.
He also tells of being carted away with two corpses about to …….