The ACF Washington is honored to present the screening of the documentary Shadows of Shame by Austrian filmmaker Sabina Zwitter-Grilc, which tells the story of three young women – a Carinthian Slovene, a Romni, and a woman of Jewish background – who want to find out why the suffering of their grandparents had such an impact on their lives and feelings. This is a journey from Austria to New York, in search for their roots.
The documentary connects the past with the present and thus shows which impact the unimaginable horrors of the Holocaust have on second and third survivor generations. The event is part of our commemoration series, marking the Anschluss of Austria to Nazi-Germany in 1938 and the horrific events that followed.
ABOUT THE MOVIE
Shadows of Shame is a documentary by the Austrian filmmaker and journalist Sabina Zwitter-Grilc, presenting gripping and often shocking stories of victims from three generations. Experts and artists describe the mechanisms involved in suppression, displacement and transfer of the agonies of the soul. The documentary shows how victims are turned into perpetrators around the world; how they are pressured into seeing themselves as being partially responsible for their own suffering. Instead of offering empathy and compensation to the survivors of the Holocaust and helping them to reestablish their faith in humanity at the end of World War II, Austria preferred collective amnesia.
The wounds to the soul that the Nazis’ victims have experienced manifest themselves in unique illnesses and traumas. These are unconsciously passed on to their children and grandchildren. The second and third survivor generations therefore think and behave in a very special way. “Shadows of Shame” allows victims to open their souls to us and reveal new and often surprising insights into a history we thought we already knew.
Many of the victims of the Nazi regime were intimidated by the social and political situation they faced after the war and withdrew themselves, silently concealing the shadows on their souls. Lily Bret, whose parents survived Auschwitz, set out to break through this wall of silence and to give the victims back their dignity. She was the first to deal with the horror in poetic form. The novelists Peter Handke and Maja Haderlap have created a literary memorial for the Carinthian Slovene victims. In “Shadows of Shame,” writers position themselves clearly on the side of those who have been robbed of their rights, language, and culture. They demonstrate how healing is indeed possible through empathy.
The experience of the Austrian Roma is told through a combination of pictures and words by the Stojka family. In “Shadows of Shame,” the musician Harri Stojka condemns the agony of the Roma. 95% of the Roma of the eastern province of Burgenland were murdered by the Nazi regime and today Roma settlements throughout Central Europe are under attack. Around the world, minorities are being persecuted, expelled, and murdered – and nobody seems to care.