Among the six million Jews that were murdered in World War II, 1 million of them were children.
Michael Bornstein was one of the lucky ones.
His experience during the war is chronicled in the new book, SURVIVORS CLUB The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz. Co-authored by Mr. Bornstein and his daughter, Debbie Bornstein Holinstat, the narrative is told through the mixed lens of fiction and memoir. Michael Bornstein was born in 1940, in the Polish town of Zarki to a middle class family. He is one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz and lost several family members to the Nazi murder machine.
I really enjoyed this book. What made it interesting was the narrative, in both fiction and memoir form, which is hard to not only combine, but combine in a narrative that is readable. Combining his memories with interviews from older family members who also survived, this book is a reminder of not only inhumane we can be to each other, but also that even in darkness, there is always a little bit of hope.
Their story is chronicled in the new film, The Zookkeeper’s Wife, (which is based upon the book of the same name). Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh) and his wife, Antonina (Jessica Chastain) are the caretakers of the Warsaw Zoo. When the Germans invade Poland and start to slowly tighten the noose around Jan and Antonina’s Jewish friends and neighbors, they make the bold and very dangerous decision to help as many survive as they can. Their task is made harder by Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl), a colleague who has joined the Nazis and whose feelings for Antonina go beyond the professional sphere.
Can Antonina and Jan continue to save lives or will they be caught and killed by the Germans?
While this movie is a bit on the long side, I very much enjoyed it. Movies about the Holocaust are normally focused on the victims and survivors, not based on those who were brave enough to defy the Germans and attempt to save lives. In focusing on Jan and Antonina, I was reminded that even in times of extreme darkness, there is still light, courage and hope in the world.