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Jewish daily life and culture shot by Roman Vishniac

Film | Accession Number: 2000.621.1 | RG Number: RG-60.2526 | Film ID: 2302

Religious Jews at work in their agricultural community. Various shots of them building homes and at work in the fields in the remote Carpathian village of Vysni Apsa. Also shown are children weaving baskets, studying and riding horses across a river. This footage contains several good CUs of adults and children, particularly focusing on facial expressions, gestures, and clothing. Shots are well lit and expertly framed.

Chaim Simcha Mechlowitz, an Orthodox Jewish farmer, tanner, and father of eleven children appears from 12:33:50 to 12:34:11 and 12:35:54 to 12:36:00. He was killed at Auschwitz in 1944.

In 1938, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC) commissioned Roman Vishniac to make three films of the remote Carpathian Jewish villages and Galician towns he had been documenting for the relief organization in still photographs since 1935. The films were lost during the upheavals of the war. These outtakes document the rural and observant Jewish farming communities that had been isolated for hundreds of years.

Vishniac noted in his seminal publication, "A Vanished World" that: "In 1648 a group of Jews crossed the Carpathian Mountains seeking refuge from the massacres and tortures of Bohdan Khmeltinsky. In this bleak, desolate part of the world, they founded the village of Upper Apsa, which was unknown to the outside world. Here farmers still grew the same type of corn Columbus had brought from the New World. It took great exertions and heavy pressure for their plows to furrow the earth." "The peasants were all so uneducated that you could not speak with them about anything. Their interest was just vodka; only alcohol to drink. But a Jewish peasant - he was a wise man who knew about life, without having a radio or newspaper or any information, nothing but his own thought and understanding. And this made him most interesting for all discussions. He asked me if a danger existed and if Hitler's police would come, arrest him, and send him to death. I feared this, too, but could not advise him. There was no place to go. The whole world was closed and nobody was interested in saving the Jews."

Event:  1938?
Production:  1936-1938
Accessed at US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Mara Vishniac Kohn and The International Center of Photography
Record last modified: 2020-02-04 10:39:37
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