It is an honor for The Absence – La Ausencia to have the immense opportunity of reaching you as an Educator. I wish to thank you for your vision, wisdom, and open heart for the possibility of implementing “The Absence” as an educational tool designed for teachers and their students.
“The Absence” was conceived when Survivors met at the “Yad Vashem Venezuelan Committee” and opened their wounds for the first time. The oldest, Mrs. Hirshorn, said she will be the first to die and wanted to leave her story. She brought a well-kept letter from her son, Henrik, written by him at age 14, stating: “This beautiful world is not for me…for me, they prepare trains that take me to my death in Belzec”. My mother, an orphan whose entire family perished in Auschwitz, listened to the stories.
As she related them to me, I envisioned “La Ausencia”—”The Absence” as it came to be. From then on, film directors, artists, and intellectuals felt the same way. It had to be done, and we all worked together pro-bonno for this educational, non-profit project to come true.
The Archival Footage was gathered from many sources in the world. Fifty college students interviewed Survivors. The re-enacted scenes were performed by hundreds of families of the community. The artistic illustrations were performed by hundreds of children from different schools and ethnicities. The Absence presents the Holocaust in a universal context, with lessons that embrace humankind in its desire to strive for liberty and peace.
After 8 years, the Absence was premiered in 1995 in the largest theater in Venezuela, with a tribute to the Survivors by the Symphonic Orchestra and the singers of the film. This was the original version of 4 hrs. featuring 30 Survivors. Shorter versions were edited in 2010.
The documentary presents the complete history of The Holocaust, with Survivors from the majority of countries in which it took place. The film encompasses a historical narration of why the Holocaust came to be, with the events that led to the systematic destruction of the European Jewry, as well as other minorities of the human race.
THE ABSENCE describes how The Final Solution was implemented. It presents meticulously researched recreations of Mass Graves, Death Trucks, and Death Camps such as Sobibor, Belzec, and Treblinka, where no one was expected to survive. The re-enactments were performed by the community, men, women, and children, young and old, who dressed in old garments and revived what occurred to re-create the systematic destruction as part of the educational project. Artistic illustrations with musical and theatrical scenes bring messages throughout the film in which present and past are intertwined, contrasting liberty vs. captivity.
THE ABSENCE is a historical legacy for present and future generations in which students and teachers will contribute in preserving the memory of The Holocaust.
Dr. Michael Berenbaum, one of the most recognized Holocaust scholars in the United States, did the historical revision and additions to the film and the study guide. He kindly worked pro-bonno to ensure the historical validation and enrichment of The Absence.
The main advantage of the film is that it encompasses a complete out view and correlation of the Holocaust in an attractive fashion for the students to follow and identify themselves with the content. The testimonies of the survivors are eloquent, orderly, and concrete.
The film presented in a DVD format is marked with chapters that are described in the Study Guide.
This 60 min version of the film with study guide does not contain graphic material and is designed for the students of Middle School and High School. Other versions of the film are for college students, adults, and for Holocaust courses.
The Absence-La Ausencia has been distributed by The United Nations Holocaust Programme worldwide to their offices in 80 countries. It has been screened in the UN office in México on January 27, 2012, with ambassadors of many countries as well as representatives of the education system. It obtained an award as best international documentary feature film be the Wake-up festival of the United Nations Organization 2011.
It has been distributed by the Holocaust Documentation & Education Center – Museum in Florida by its President Rositta Kenisberg. It is distributed by The Holocaust Teachers Institute/University of Miami through its director Dr. Miriam K. Kassenoff, to thousands of educators yearly.
The Association of Holocaust Organizations (AHO) shared the film online to their Members and Affiliates worldwide by its President, Dr. William L.Shulman.
The Absence- La Ausencia has been shown since 2011 at Michael Krop Senior High School Auditorium to all the Social Studies Students, as well as many high schools around the nation, and it reaches schools and institutions in remote places of the world.
As you open the CD of the Study Guide, you may choose the version compatible with your computer, English or Spanish, version for the classroom, or version for students which is the same but in fewer pages, in case you wish to print it. The Study Guide describes the essence of the film with pictures and captions. In the Study Guide, you will find a Questionnaire with sections of historical content, research, insight questions, and creative writing, with a humanitarian perspective, which will allow the students to participate in the project by expressing their thoughts, insights, and feelings.
The Survivors who entrusted their legacy, their message, and their hopes in The Absence – La Ausencia, will forever be grateful to institutions such as yours and to the educators who instill the best of their knowledge to each generation, as you shape the conscience of the youngsters for them to dream, expect and create a better future. With my greatest appreciation, I wish to thank you for your vision, wisdom, and open heart for the possibility of implementing “The Absence” as an educational tool designed for teachers and their students.
Please see the English study guides and questionnaire below: