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Published on Mar 29, 2009
Our Holocaust Vacation is a 84 minute feature documentary about a Holocaust survivor and her family, traveling through Central Europe to see her childhood home, visit the locations of her wartime torture and hear about the little acts of love that kept her alive. Autobiographical, the family includes the filmmakers, Doniphan and Nicholas Blair (the entire production team), Doniphans rebellious teenage daughter, Irena, Nicks worrywart wife, Tania, their joke-cracking gentile father, Vachel, and their survivor mother, Tonia. Arriving from New York City to Tonia's hometown of Lodz, Poland, they are confronted by neo-Nazi graffiti, local drunks and her eye-witness accounts — filmed exactly where they happened. But it is not all one big bummer. They also enjoy goofing around and Tonias stories of childhood. Researching a wartime era clue, the family finds a friendly Polish mayor, who helps them locate where Tonias family was murdered. Then they follow Tonia's precise wartime route, first to Auschwitz, where the film artfully portrays the death camp experience (due, in large part, to Moses Sedlers evocative score), then to camps in Germany and Austria. Along the way, familial love turns to conflict when Doniphan asks the family to wear Jewish stars and walk through a German town and Irena rejects the idea out of hand, although she comes to her own understanding later. In another one of the films performance pieces, the family gives away bread in the Czech Republic, to honor the good Samaritans who fed Tonia during the war. The film concludes on this theme, kindness as a counter force to atrocity, which also exemplified in Tonias work through most of the war as nurse or her tearful reminiscence about a friendly German officer in the work camp.