German documentary transports students to the past

The movie poster for “Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald.”

Students enrolled in elementary German visited the past Nov. 13 in the A Building cafeteria.

While they did not have a time machine, professor Magdalena Kotanova held a viewing of “Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald” to transport students back to a pivotal time in Germany’s history.

“I think it’s interesting to follow how people survived something so horrible,” Kotanova said to the students before starting the movie.

Kotanova visited Buchenwald when she was a student and said this movie does a good job of showing German history, even though it highlights some unpleasant aspects of Germany’s past.

The movie, which was released in 2012, is a documentary that follows the story of four boys; Pavel Kohn, Alex Moskovic, Naftali-Duro Furst and Israel-Laszlo Lazar. It shows the hardships they faced in the Nazi labor camp Buchenwald.

Kohn arrived at Buchenwald after surviving Auschwitz. At Auschwitz, Kohn and his brother were forced to go through a medical examination by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele.

Moskovic and his family were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau when he was 13 years old. Afterward he — along with famous writer and holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel — was transported to Buchenwald.

Furst and his family were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Afterward, in Jan. 1945, he was sent on a death march to Buchenwald. Lazar was sent to Buchenwald, then to another camp, only to be sent back to Buchenwald in Feb. 1945.

Since the movie’s release, Kohn died in 2017 and Moskovic died Sept. 2019. Furst is 87 and Lazar is 89.

Located near Weimar, Germany, Buchenwald was established in 1937. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, it was one of the first and largest concentration camps constructed within Germany’s prewar border.

Student Kay Hodges attended the viewing. Kay signed up for the class seeking to learn more about German culture and history since her family has ties to Germany. When her mom, Kristy, heard about her signing up, Kristy thought it sounded fun and signed up too.

Kristy said her parents lived in Germany for some time because her father was stationed there while in the military.

Cade Fiscus said he needed a class he would enjoy and could fit into his schedule.

“All my friends took it (Elementary German),” Fiscus said. “I enjoy it.”

Black Forest cake, along with other traditional German food, is served before the showing of “Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald,” a documentary about the Nazi’s Buchenwald concentration camp.

Food was served during the movie night and consisted of sauerkraut and kielbasa and black forest cake, both German dishes. Pumpkin pie was available as well.

Kevin Cooper, dean of Science and Mathematics Division and interim dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, said he was happy to come to the event.

“I want to be more active in student activities,” Cooper said.

Cooper said he is German and Irish. He also said all the food he tried was splendid.