“I survived by sheer willpower. I was beaten, I was tortured. I was starved. The will to live — no matter how difficult the instances were, the circumstances. I did not give up.”
These are the opening words in the documentary “Fascination: Helena’s Story,” about Holocaust survivor Helena Weinrauch. The film, which won Best Documentary at the New York International Film Festival in 2016, will be screened at the Wheeler School on Jan. 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Weinrauch, who grew up in Drohobycz, Poland, lived through the worst atrocities of the 20th century. She was arrested in Krakow and survived three concentration camps: Krakow-Płaszow, presided over by the notorious Amon Goeth (the sadistic grandfather of Jennifer Teege, who spoke in Rhode Island last year), Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. She endured the 500-mile death march from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen — and, miraculously, her life was twice saved at the last second as she stood in front of firing squads.
“I made this film because I want to introduce to the world an incredible human being,” said filmmaker Karen Goldfarb. “She [Weinrauch] is 94 now, and full of energy, joie de vivre and the passion to communicate her story. She is especially anxious to pass along her message that she does not hate — because hatred is what led to the Holocaust. Her message, like so many Holocaust survivors I have encountered, is all about love — and seizing the day. The importance of life.”
Goldfarb continued, “A few years ago, as a mere girl of 88, she decided it was time to finally pursue a longtime dream. To become a ballroom dancer.”
The film tells of Weinrauch’s miraculous survival, her healing and redemption.
DETAILS: “Fascination: Helena’s Story” will be shown on Sunday, Jan. 27, at 4 p.m. at the Wheeler School, 216 Hope St., Providence. The screening, in the school’s Gilder Center for the Performing Arts, is sponsored by Wheeler’s Unity & Diversity Department and Students involved in Cultural Awareness. Preregistration is not required. Doors open at 3:30 p.m.