Review: Pizza in Auschwitz

By Jessica Elgot, November 11, 2009
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Dirs. Moshe Zimerman | Israel | 2008 | 52 mins | Hebrew with English subtitles

Most children are told fairy stories to send them to sleep at bedtime. Miri and Sagi were told scary stories. Stories about their father’s time in the ghettos and concentration camps of Nazi-occupied Poland.

Now the elderly and fierce Dani drags his two grown-up Israeli children, the chain-smoking, petulant Miri and solemn, religious Sagi to retrace his steps to the concentration camps that have haunted him, and them.

The final goal for the septuagenarian, the man with the “BA in Auschwitz” as he describes it, is to spend one final night in his old barracks in the camp, with his family around him.

With a box of takeaway pizza, a camera, candles and emotions running at their highest, father and daughter fight out their lost childhoods.

In Dani, Moshe Zimerman’s documentary has a character that no script could have created. His wry defiance of border guards, historians, schoolteachers, the Auschwitz staff and his own, traumatised, family give the film its moments of blackest comedy and deepest heartache.

Pizza in Auschwitz is a deeply poignant story about a different kind of Holocaust survival, how the children of the victims have survived the trauma of their parents. As Miri finally puts it, back home in Tel Aviv with her own family: “There’s really no such thing as a Holocaust survivor.”

    Last updated: 2:58pm, February 18 2011