Springhill Avenue youth to premiere Holocaust-era documentary

In 2009, Rickie Voit introduced Stan Zimmerman to Agnes Tennenbaum, a Holocaust survivor and author who had moved to Mobile in 2006. Tennenbaum is author of “A Girl Named Rose: My Holocaust Journey,” and has spoken extensively throughout the area about her experiences. They wanted to see about preserving her story on film.

After two years of work by a group of volunteers and the Springhill Avenue Federation of Temple Youth, “We Remember” will debut on Nov. 10, the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

When the idea was first mentioned, Zimmerman was working with documentary producer Gary Scovil. In discussing the project with community leaders, Springhill Avenue Rabbi Donald Kunstadt suggested that the youth group get involved, and shape the story so it has a hopeful ending.

Two of the SHAFTY members, Victoria Hirsch and Cory Garfunkel, volunteered for the project and they started to develop the story.

Scovil knew Hilmar von Campe, who had been a member of Hitler Youth and served in the German military. Von Campe, who died this past June, spoke out against totalitarianism and the ideologies he had been part of in his youth.

Zimmerman knew Jim Philpot, an American veteran who was one of the first troops to enter Dachau. They also decided to interview Hirsch’s grandmother, Violet, to get the perspective of an American Jew from that time period.

Hirsch and Garfunkel conducted the interviews for the film. As the interviews began, they met von Campe’s sister, Sibylle von Campe Heidrich, and Springhill Avenue Temple member Roland Fry came forward to tell his experiences during the war. The film documents those six participants, describing that time period from their different perspectives and showing the human spirit to live.

The entire community is invited to the premiere, which will be at 6:30 p.m. at Springhill Avenue Temple.

The premiere is presented in association with the Gulf Coast Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education, the Alabama Gulf Coast Holocaust Library and the Mobile Area Jewish Federation. DVDs will be available at a discount for the premiere, and there will be an Agnes Tennenbaum book signing. Donations to SHAFTY are welcomed, and proceeds will go toward the NFTY-South spring conclave in 2013 that Springhill Avenue will host.

SHAFTY advisor Kimberly Zimmerman said “we hope to have the documentary used for educational purposes, perhaps included in Holocaust curriculum and use filming as a method of teaching historical events.”

She said the response from advance screenings “has been incredible” and “we are very excited to show our film to our community.”