New Israeli Documentary Farewell Herr Schwarz Tells Story of Family Separated by the Holocaust

A new Israeli documentary about the Holocaust is getting some positive reviews. “Farewell Herr Schwarz, ” from director Yael Reuveny, is about her own family’s experience.

This is Reuveny’s third documentary film and her first one of full feature length. It won the Best Documentary Prize at the Haifa International Film Festival.

From Black Sheep Films, it tells the story of the two Schwarz siblings, a brother and sister, who survived the Holocaust. The Schwarz family gets divided in two after the brother failed to show up at a meeting which they planned for a Lodz train station in 1945.

Michla Schwartz, survived the death camps and moved to Israel just before its founding while her brother Fei’vke, who she thought was dead, changed his name to Peter and chose to remain in Germany for the rest of his life. Michla first thought that Fei’vke had died in the Holocaust and then, after finding out that he had survived, believed that he was killed before he could make it to their meeting.

For fifty years neither the German family nor the Israeli one knew about the other’s existence. Yael Reuveny is Michla Schwarz’s granddaughter.

The producers describe the film as a, “cinematic Journey starting with the simple question ‘what really happened in 1945’ that evolves into a complex conclusion about the power of myths and our need to hold on to them.”

Variety called the film “exemplary” saying “This modest little film about two families with missing pieces carries within it the tortured history of two countries and several generations, struggling for new ways to remember the past and live the present.”

Reuveny, who was born and raised in Israel, now lives in Germany. She has directed and produced documentaries for the Jewish Museum Berlin.

While the film was first released in 2013, it is only now being distributed in the U.S.

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