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March 28, 2014  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Film on local Holocaust survivor to be shown at USF

Carolyn Ellis and Jerry Rawicki Carolyn Ellis and Jerry Rawicki A documentary film, Behind the Wall, which tells the story of Warsaw Ghetto survivor Jerry Rawicki‘s return visit to Poland in 2013, will air Thursday, April 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the University of South Florida Marshall Student Center Oval Theatre.

The showing is free and open to the public.

After the film, Rawicki, 86, of Seminole, and USF professor and filmmaker Carolyn Ellis, who made the 45-minute documentary, will discuss the film and their five-year project on personal testimony about the Holocaust. There will be special attention to the trip to Poland, including visiting Treblinka, where Rawicki’s mother and a sister were killed.

Rawicki, a retired optician, was born in Poland in 1927 and lived with his family in the town of Plock until 1941 when the city’s Jews were expelled. Rawicki and his mother and sisters went south to Bodzentyn, Poland, where they lived for a year and a half.

In 1942 Rawicki and his elder sister went to Warsaw, where their father had been living in the Warsaw Ghetto. Radwicki, now 15, joined various work groups to get in and out of the ghetto, smuggling and running errands, while his sister left the ghetto and posed as a Gentile until the war ended.

Rawicki escaped when the Warsaw Ghetto

Uprising began in April 1943 and spent several weeks hiding in various parts of the city. During this time, he was assisted by a young gentile man who gave him food and a place to sleep. In the film, Jerry describes his experiences in Bodzentyn and the Warsaw Ghetto, in Warsaw after leaving the ghetto, and after liberation.

Ellis captures Rawicki’s thoughts and deep emotions on site in Poland as he visits the places he remembers. He reflects on how those places affect what and how he remembers as well as his attempt to work through his sadness about, and forgiveness toward, his homeland. Family members, as well as the project director, are interviewed for the film.

Ellis is professor and chair of the Department of Communication at USF. Her current research focuses on interactive interviews and collaborative witnessing with Holocaust survivors.

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