Never Forget to Lie – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

March 23, 2014 by Roz Tarszisz
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Some children survived the Holocaust only by denying their faith. “Never forget to lie,” is what they were told to do to survive.

As both director and one of the subjects of Never Forget to Lie, Marian Marzynski recalls that hiding his Jewish identity meant losing much of his Jewish upbringing. Other child survivors in this compelling documentary feel the same way.

However, they also discover they can find peace by confronting past terrors.

Marzynski is an experienced documentary maker who has turned the camera on his own life.   Taken in by Christians during World War II, he was a young child when his mother left him for his own safety.  They both survived the war and remained in Poland.

However, after over 20 years of Communist rule, life again became difficult for Jews. Together with his wife and mother, Marzynski left for America.

In an early scene, we see Marzynski at a Jewish festival in modern Krakow where locals are dancing in a plaza to Jewish tunes. He reckons he may be the only Jew at this celebration which he speculates might be “revitalising a troubled history.” To the Poles in the plaza, the celebration may be no more than folk dancing but Marzynski is comforted to discover that both the Jewish music and spirit have endured.

There are interviews with other child survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto, some of whom have not returned to Poland in over 60 years.  It is an extremely emotional return for some first-time returnees, while others find it cathartic.

Survivors take us through the Warsaw Ghetto of their vivid memories. The director points out condemned ghetto buildings, destined to be razed to build luxury apartments. He allows us to draw our own conclusions.

Marzynski’s father was killed in a forest during the war and Marzynski still feels guilty that he was unable to save him.  He reflects that these irrational thoughts are “the thoughts of a child who is still a child at 70”.

Survivor guilt is itself a resilient survivor.

USA, 2012, 55 min, English & Polish with English Subtitles, Directed by Marian Marzynski

The film features in the Jewish Holocaust Series currently screening in Melbourne and Sydney

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