Over 75 years after the last extermination camps closed in Europe, the Holocaust and resultant diaspora continue to cast long shadows. It may be easy to relegate these events to the distant past, dismiss them as a lesson learned, or categorize them as something so abhorrent that it could never happen again. However, the documentary film Where Can I Go? Wo Ahin Sol Ich Geh’n? (2020) eloquently addresses the ongoing issues related to the Holocaust by allowing those who were directly impacted to speak for themselves. As Survivor Eva Weinerman says in the film, “We want to show what happened, and what it means to be human.”
Directed by Barbara Kaynan and Jesse Bonnell, and produced in partnership with The Justice Theatre Project, Where Can I Go? features Harry Rubinstein, Tobi Dicker, Marianna Miller, Judy Kiss Stevens, and Eva Weinerman – each of whom is either a survivor of the Holocaust, children of survivors, or both. Each is also a member of the Kesher Group, a Zoom-based drama therapy group, which met virtually last year amid the height of the COVID-19 lockdown. The film documents their work together. As such, it is mostly a documentary, with very little narration, and a minimalist score, as to not overwhelm the survivors’ stories. Their isolation is not figurative; their trauma is real and ongoing; their alienation is physical and palpable; their joys and pains are apparent in their expressions.
Perhaps what is most impressive about this film is that there is nothing overly sentimental or melodramatic in its presentation of trauma. No tears are shed on-screen. No platitudinous “lessons” are preached. It is the cold brutality of what happened to these individuals, chiseled into their souls and expressed in their wrinkles, their wandering eyes, their swallowed words and occasional laugh or smile, and even in the silences that insulate their words as they recount these awful truths, that is truly crushing. Marianna Miller – whose entire family were victims of the war – paraphrases Macbeth, stating that life is a tale, “told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
“Obviously,” she adds, “I don’t believe that. I have no big meanings… I just like beautiful things.”
Where Can I Go? is a trenchant reminder that the bigotry and antisemitism that resulted in mass murder and displacement in the 1940s are still active today. As recently as this past January, a Nazi flag was hammered to a tree in Wake County.
“It just doesn’t go away,” Tobi Dicker said. “That’s why we have to keep educating and educating and educating.”
“…and being rejected, and rejected, and rejected,.” adds Rubinstein.
The film concludes with some shocking statistics connecting what happened then to ongoing humanitarian crises happening around the world. In fact, according to the UN, every three seconds someone is displaced due to war, persecution, or human rights violations.
There is a Yiddish song made popular by Leo Fuld in 1948, that asks the same question tens of millions of people still must continuously ask themselves, Wo Ahin Sol Ich Geh’n? or Where can I go? And while this film does not answer this question entirely, it is a chilling and salient reminder of its importance.
Where Can I Go? is produced by Raleigh-Cary Jewish Family Services in partnership with The Justice Theater Project. The film is available to stream on-demand now. For more information visit The Justice Theater Project website.
Beltline to Broadway will go live with Barbara Kaynan, Jesse Bonnell, and Limor Scwhartz on Facebook this Tuesday. For more information on that, follow Beltline to Broadway on Facebook.