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Kristin Tutino
Creative Services Department


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Monday, April 20 at 10:30 p.m. Swimming in Auschwitz

(Rochester, NY) The gripping new documentary, Swimming in Auschwitz, airing Monday, April 20 at 10:30 p.m. on WXXI-TV 21 (cable 11) and WXXI-HD (cable 1011 and DT 21.1), sheds light on the Holocaust experience from the rarely explored perspective of six women imprisoned inside the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

The intertwined stories of survivors Eva Beckmann, Rena Drexler, Renee Firestone, Erika Jacoby, Lili Majzner, and Linda Sherman illustrate their individual yet universal Holocaust experiences.

The women’s lives slowly morphed into a never-ending saga of persecution and ghettoization. Starting in 1942, Nazis herded Jewish women from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Holland onto cattle cars and transported them through the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Separated from family after three or more days on a train with no food or water, stripped of clothes, shaved of hair with numbers tattooed on their arms, they often spent the first night outdoors with the smell of the crematoria in the air.

In the ensuing months, their survival within the camp depended largely on luck, yet the six women — just teenagers at the time — found ways to keep their hope alive. The prisoners maintained a spiritual resistance through prayer, community, music, and even humor. Through surprising anecdotes, these women reveal the unlikely role laughter played in their survival.

The film's title derives from its most powerful story. One woman recalls marching through the camp on a particularly hot August day. The group passed by a swimming pool kept for Nazi officers, which she found too tempting. To the shock of the rest of the group, she jumped in the pool and swam from one end to the other end.

The compelling testimonials in this film demonstrate the Nazis' failure to crush the will of Jews. These women do not dwell on the physical and emotional hardships; instead, they speak of camp families and faith, uplifting one another while trying to retain their humanity. Their stories reveal the power of laughter and community, even in the face of evil.

For more information, visit http://www.swimminginauschwitz.com.

Pictured: (l-r) Linda Sherman, Rena Drexler, Eva Beckmann, Lili Majzner, Renee Firestone, and Erika Jacoby.
Photo Credit: Gary Leonard


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