Tuesday, July 13, 2010

YouTube video shocking, funny -- life affirming?

A friend recently sent me a link to a video on YouTube, one of those home-grown efforts that show a few folks dancing. The mega-video site is filled with a gazillion such mini-movies -- cats and dogs doing tricks, kids singing and teens dancing; clips from popular TV shows and concerts, Broadway hits and blockbuster films.

But this video (link below) was different -- strange, a little bizarre and a bit shocking. It features a family -- a Holocaust survivor, his daughter and two grandchildren. They apparently spent time traveling through Eastern Europe recently, visiting some of the most hellish sites every created by the Nazis.

And at each place -- Auschwitz, Dachau, the Jewish ghetto of Prague -- they dance about to Gloria Gaynor's funky pop hit, "I will Survive"! The photography is okay, the editing lame and unsophisticated, the choreography and dancing really -- and I mean REALLY -- bad.

Did I mention that they're essentially dancing on sacred ground. Yes, I think I did. And I guess that's the point and the issue that will rub some people the wrong way, while serving as an affirmation of life for others.

I fall into the latter group, the affirmation of life camp. After only a moment of shock, and a few more moments of getting over the Elaine-like moves of the dancers -- you know, Elaine on Seinfeld -- I started to understand the celebration that was taking place.

The survivor -- and I have no idea what hell he lived through and witnessed -- has managed to live a full life, decades I presume that have been filled with joy and happiness and, obviously, a life that has connected him with the kids in the video. So when they boogie out in front of the "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign at the entrance of Auschwitz, it seems to me they are both thumbing their collective noses at the dark memories of the Nazi war machine, while celebrating the life of this special man.

I've been to several of the places in the video, heard first-hand accounts from survivors and walked through the killing fields of the region. I've felt anger over what happened in these places decades ago and hatred for the monsters who brought such darkness to the world.

But I've never smiled when thinking about the Holocaust, never quite so appreciated the amazing miracle of life that the survivor community embraces. This video -- silly and amateurish -- is filled with love. So take a moment and check out the video right here, have a little laugh, then say a small prayer for the six million who didn't make it.

ICONIC IMAGE: Infamous sign (photo above) outside of Auschwitz in Poland, the Nazi death camp where at least a million Jews were murdered, reads "Work Makes You Free".


  1. Did not think it was appropriate for the family to ask the father (grand father, survivor) to do this. I am convinced he played along not knowing the notoriety he would be getting.

  2. The name of this video ought to be -
    Shame, Shame, Shame...

    Not for a split second do I find this video amusing, interesting or entertaining. To some observers this video might seem as a wonderful "family celebration", though to me, I find this video to be repulsive,distasteful and unacceptable in every sense.

    Upon carefully screening the video, it is quite evident to me that the holocaust survivor seems to be spinning, babbling uncontrollably and incoherently and I would imagine that his brainwaves function in a very similar manner. Moreover, his decrepit family obviously lack "tact, common sense, sensitivity and decency" to NOT parade an old "Alzheimer" patient to the world, rather shield and protect him from ridicule.

    Both my grandparents and other family members perished in the holocaust. The mere thought and sight of these "imbeciles" who have the audacity to dance, parade and party on my beloved family's (and many other graves)is much more than I can tolerate.

    I unequivocally disapprove of such distasteful and irresponsible behavior.

    The video does justice to the survivor and to the family. It brings to light their mental capacity and gives the world a glimpse into their dysfunctionality.

    As I have stated, both my parents are holocaust survivors. Never in a million years would they display such inapropriate and indicent bahavior for a number of reasons; They are compassionate and sensitive, and their family would NEVER permit such public display.

    Shame, Shame, Shame on the entire family.

    I am extremely proud of my religion and heritage, but I will not accept and am ashamed to be associated with such "Jews".



  3. Hi There I am a second year theatre student, currently doing a module artist as witness. The essence of this stemmed from that very video contemplating around the notion of how to we bear testimony to an event we did not witness. I was wondering if I could have permission to use the above photograph of 'arbeit macht frei' in a book i am creating about the piece. You would get full credit for the image. Many thanks Adam.
    here is my email adamekin@hotmail.com if you wish to contact me.