Stories from the Holocaust | 60 Minutes Full Episodes

Stories from the Holocaust | 60 Minutes Full Episodes

The Nuremberg Prosecutor (00:00:11)

  • Ben Ferencz, a 97-year-old former prosecutor, played a crucial role in the Nuremberg trials, the first international war crimes tribunals.
  • Ferencz, the son of Jewish immigrants from Romania, discovered top-secret documents detailing the actions of the Einsatzgruppen, special SS units responsible for killing millions of Jews, Communists, and Gypsies.
  • As a 27-year-old prosecutor, Ferencz presented evidence of mass murder committed by the Einsatzgruppen, proving their guilt without calling any witnesses.
  • Despite the overwhelming evidence, the defendants pleaded not guilty and showed no remorse.
  • Ferencz believes that war turns decent people into murderers and has dedicated his life to deterring war and war crimes by establishing an international court.
  • Ferencz emphasizes the importance of peace over war and criticizes the senselessness of sending young people to fight and kill each other.
  • Ferencz is donating his life savings to a genocide prevention initiative at the Holocaust Museum as a way of giving back and expressing gratitude for the life he has lived in the United States.

Saving the Children (00:13:47)

  • Nicholas Winton, a 29-year-old Londoner, organized the Kindertransport, a rescue effort to save Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia in 1938.
  • Despite facing challenges, Winton managed to save 669 children by arranging their transport to Britain and finding families to take them in.
  • The first group of 20 children left Prague on March 14, 1939, just one day before German troops occupied the city.
  • Many of the children on the last scheduled Kindertransport train, which was canceled due to the outbreak of World War II, are believed to have perished.
  • Winton kept his role in the Kindertransport a secret for 50 years until his story was featured on a BBC program in 1988.
  • Knighted in 2003, Sir Nicholas Winton became a national hero in the Czech Republic for his actions during the Holocaust.
  • Winton's actions resulted in the survival of thousands of descendants, as the rescued children went on to have children and grandchildren of their own.

Talking to the Past (Part 1) (00:29:11)

  • A new project aims to preserve the firsthand accounts of Holocaust survivors using AI-powered interactive interviews, allowing future generations to actively converse with them even after they are gone.
  • Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter participated in a trial run, spending a week answering nearly 2,000 questions in a specially designed "bubble" equipped with high-speed cameras and lights.
  • The goal is to future-proof the interviews so that they can adapt to advancements in technology, such as 3D hologram-like projections.
  • Pinchas Gutter shares his experiences and answers questions at Holocaust museums using advanced technology that projects his image and selects relevant answers from a database.
  • Gutter describes his happy childhood as a winemaker's son and learning to read and write at a young age.
  • At age 11, Gutter was separated from his family upon arriving at a concentration camp and later learned that his sister and parents were killed in the gas chambers.
  • The Shoah Foundation has recorded interviews with 21 Holocaust survivors, including liberators like Alan Mosin, who witnessed the horrors of concentration camps.
  • Researchers isolate each survivor's answers and input various ways of asking the same question to ensure the system provides accurate responses.
  • Students test the system in schools, asking questions to Pinchas Gutter's projected image, and the responses are reviewed and refined.

Talking to the Past (Part 2) (00:42:26)

  • The USC Shoah Foundation's project creates 3D interviews with Holocaust survivors, allowing for meaningful conversations even after their passing.
  • Eva Kor, a Holocaust survivor and identical twin, participated in the project before her passing at age 85.
  • Eva and her sister Miriam endured harsh conditions and separation from their family during Dr. Joseph Mengele's twin experiments at Auschwitz.
  • Despite Mengele's pleasant appearance, Eva recalled his evil nature and was given only two weeks to live.
  • Eva's controversial decision to forgive her Nazi captors drew criticism from other survivors, while Aaron Elster, who escaped capture by hiding in an attic, could not forgive.
  • The project showcases diverse perspectives on God, religion, faith, and forgiveness among Holocaust survivors.
  • Survivors share coping mechanisms like daydreaming and writing novels in their heads during their experiences.
  • New technology enables people to ask questions of pre-recorded interviews with deceased individuals, including Holocaust survivors.
  • This technology has broader potential beyond the Holocaust, allowing individuals to record their own histories or interview others.
  • There is urgency to capture interviews with Holocaust survivors while they are still alive.
  • Holocaust survivors express mixed feelings about revenge, initially desiring it but later realizing it's not part of their lives or thoughts.
  • The technology offers a form of immortality for Holocaust survivors, enabling them to continue answering questions long after they are gone.
  • This approach shifts the focus of learning about the Holocaust from being told lessons to individuals taking the initiative to ask questions and seek knowledge.

The Lost Music (Part 1) (00:54:45)

  • Italian composer and pianist Francesco Loro has dedicated 30 years to recovering, performing, and completing musical pieces composed by prisoners in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust.
  • Over 6 million people, mostly Jews, perished in the Holocaust, but their music survived.
  • Loro's work includes reviving a piece created by a young Jewish woman in a Nazi concentration camp in 1944.
  • Despite the harsh conditions, music provided a temporary escape and preserved dignity for the prisoners.
  • Inmate orchestras were established by the Nazis for entertainment purposes, but unofficial music was also created in secret.
  • Loro's mission involves collecting and cataloging over 8,000 pieces of music, including symphonies, operas, folk songs, and Gypsy tunes.
  • Prisoners used unconventional materials like charcoal and toilet paper to compose and smuggle out their music.
  • Loro arranges and sometimes completes these musical pieces, ensuring their preservation and performance.
  • Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, a 94-year-old survivor of the women's orchestra at Auschwitz, recounts her experiences upon arriving at the camp and the "welcome ceremony" involving tattooing and hair removal.
  • Lasker-Wallfisch's musical talent saved her life as she became a member of the orchestra conducted by Alma Ros, a virtuoso violinist and prisoner herself.
  • The orchestra members lived in a wooden barracks near the crematoria and witnessed the horrors of the camp while practicing their music.
  • The orchestra played marches for prisoners daily to set the tempo for work and count the inmates, and also played when new arrivals disembarked from trains to create a sense of normalcy.
  • The Nazis deceived newcomers into believing that Auschwitz was a hospitable place, while in reality, thousands of men, women, and children were being murdered daily.
  • The prisoners' orchestra performed concerts on Sundays for both prisoners and SS officers, including the infamous Dr. Joseph Mengele, known as the "Angel of Death," who conducted medical experiments on prisoners.
  • Music served as a connection between life and death in the camp, and it is the only remaining evidence of life there.
  • Francesco Lotoro's project aims to bring the compositions created by these musicians back to life, as the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles and their descendants become the primary source of information.

The Lost Music (Part 2) (01:09:57)

  • Italian composer and pianist Francesco Loro has dedicated three decades to collecting music created by prisoners during the Holocaust.
  • Loro travels the world to recover artifacts and meet with survivors and their families to uncover the stories behind the music.
  • In Nuremberg, Germany, Loro meets Bemar Kopinsky, the son of Joseph Kopinsky, a prolific composer in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
  • Joseph Kopinsky composed hundreds of pieces of music during his imprisonment, including tangos, waltzes, love songs, and even an opera, mostly at night by candlelight in a tiny room the Nazis called a Pathology Lab.
  • Kopinsky smuggled out his violin and hundreds of pieces of music during a death march, sacrificing some to build a fire for his fellow prisoners.
  • Loro also meets Kristoff Kulevich, the son of Alexander Kulevich, a Polish prisoner who composed and sang songs in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
  • Alexander Kulevich memorized hundreds of songs by other prisoners and dictated them to a nurse after the war to be recorded, considering them a form of oral history that gave hope to fellow inmates and preserved the truth of the camp.
  • Francesco Loro has arranged and recorded 400 of these compositions, bringing them back to life.
  • Loro plans to build a "citadel" in his hometown of Barleta, Italy, to house and study this music, with the goal of educating future generations about the Holocaust.
  • Loro sees his work as a Mitzvah, a Jewish term for a good deed, and believes it is more than just a good deed, but a necessary effort to preserve the memory of the Holocaust.
  • Loro's work has gained international recognition, with recent performances in Toronto, Jerusalem, and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The Mascot (01:21:07)

  • Alex Keram, a six-year-old Jewish boy, witnessed the Nazis killing his family and escaped into the forest.
  • He endured harsh conditions and hunger while wandering alone for months until Nazi soldiers captured him.
  • Instead of killing him, the Nazis made Alex their mascot, giving him a new name, birthday, and rank as the youngest Corporal in their army.
  • Alex marched with the Nazi division, witnessing the execution of Jews, which reminded him of his own family's fate.
  • As the Russians counterattacked, Alex was liberated and reunited with surviving relatives.
  • Alex, unaware of his Jewish identity, spent summers with a prominent Nazi family in Ria when he was seven and eight years old.
  • He starred in a Nazi propaganda film as the youngest Corporal in the Nazi army.
  • Alex kept his Jewish identity a secret for over 50 years, living in constant fear of being discovered.
  • After migrating to Australia, marrying, and starting a family, Alex didn't reveal his past to them.
  • Compelled to find answers, Alex and his son Mark embarked on a journey to uncover his true identity and history.
  • With the help of a historian, they discovered his hometown was formerly known as Kinof in Belarus.
  • Alex found his old house, met a half-brother he never knew existed, and learned his real name, Ilia Solomonovich Garin.
  • He discovered that his father had survived a concentration camp and believed Alex and his family had been killed.
  • Alex fulfilled a lifelong wish by visiting his mother's grave and placing flowers in her memory.
  • Despite the painful memories, Alex felt relieved to share his story and have it verified by the Jewish Claims Conference.
  • Although he never found out his exact birth date, he celebrates every morning by wishing himself a happy birthday.

Discovered (01:32:12)

  • Cornelius Gurlitt, son of Hitler's art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, possessed 1,406 artworks worth millions in his Munich apartment, the largest recovery of missing art since World War II.
  • The art was looted from museums and Jewish collections by Hildebrand Gurlitt, who sold it abroad for hard currency.
  • Cornelius inherited the collection and kept it hidden for decades, sparking a legal battle over ownership with heirs of the original owners seeking restitution.
  • David Torrin, a Holocaust survivor, is among those seeking the return of a painting from his family's collection, which was found by the Allies' Monuments Men in a Bavarian castle owned by a Nazi party leader.
  • The German government kept the discovery of Gurlitt's art collection a secret for nearly two years.
  • A task force is examining the collection for evidence of looting, with a moral obligation to return looted art to its rightful owners, but German law poses challenges due to a 30-year statute of limitations on stolen property.
  • Cornelius Gurlitt is willing to negotiate the return of potentially stolen paintings, while maintaining that his father did nothing wrong and the collection rightfully belongs to him.
  • Martha Henríksson, whose grandfather's drawing is part of the collection, has filed a claim but is not optimistic about its return.
  • Gurlitt has reached an agreement with German authorities to surrender paintings proven to be stolen while keeping the rest of the collection.

The Paper Brigade (01:45:41)

  • The Paper Brigade, a group of Jewish writers and intellectuals in Vilnius, Lithuania, smuggled artwork, books, and rare manuscripts out of the Jewish ghetto during the Holocaust to preserve Jewish culture.
  • They hid the materials in 10 different locations, including a 60-foot-deep underground bunker.
  • After the war, the Soviets took control of Lithuania and suppressed Jewish culture, endangering the treasures that the Paper Brigade had saved.
  • Some members of the Paper Brigade organized a second secret operation to smuggle books and other materials to the YIVO Institute in New York City.
  • A Catholic librarian named Antanas Opus hid the remaining materials in an empty Catholic church, preserving them from destruction.
  • After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Jewish culture began to emerge from hiding and the hidden books were rediscovered.
  • The YIVO Institute and the Lithuanian government reached an agreement to preserve the materials and make them accessible to the public.
  • Lithuania is starting to confront its uncomfortable history and the atrocities committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, and schools are now teaching about the lives and deaths of Lithuanian Jews during this time.

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