young brothers survived the Holocaust because their Aunt Malka put them on the Kasztner’s
train, through sheer superhuman effort.
She may have been an aunt, but she became one of the women whom the boys
would come consider their “three mothers” as grown adults. Well into their seventies, the two brothers
finally return to the Europe they barely escaped in hopes of learning more
about their three mothers in Avi Angel’s documentary, Here I Learned to Love (trailer here), which opens
tomorrow in New York.
Weinberg has always been the older brother.
Protective of the younger Avner during those chaotic years, Weinberg wrote
and researched the book Three Mothers for
Two Brothers on which Angel’s documentary is partly based. However, Avner Kerem never wanted to revisit
the past and his brother never forced the issue. Yet, he eventually agrees to the bittersweet
pilgrimage in hopes of answering certain long held questions, including those
involving his very name.
the mother the brothers knew the least was their actual birth mother, the
elegant Minda Weinberg, who entrusted the brothers to her sister Malka. The nurturing Aunt Malka would also survive
the National Socialist horrors, but at considerable personal cost. By blindly entrusting the boys to the controversial
Kasztner transport, their Aunt passed them into the sheltering hands of Naomi
Meir, perhaps their most heartbreaking mother.
fifty-five minutes or so, HILTL is
brief by feature standards, but it dramatically conveys the courageous sacrifice
of the three mothers and the resiliency of the two brothers. There is not much padding in the film, but
Angel still shows a shrewd eye for a quiet telling moment. The brothers are not prone to sentimentality,
but their homecoming bears a genuine emotional payoff. Weinberg is particularly insightful, having become
an expert on the Holocaust in his own right.
Like Tomasz Magierski’s Blinky & Me or Larry Weinstein’s Inside Hana’s Suitcase earlier in the year, HILTL follows a well established template for documenting survivors’
return journeys. Duly respectful, it is
concise but substantial. A worthy and
economical remembrance film, Here I
Learned to Love is recommended parents, teachers, and students of history
when it opens tomorrow (11/2) at the Quad Cinema in New York.
Labels: Documentary, Holocaust Cinema, Israeli Cinema