ST. GEORGE — The Dixie State University Docutah International Documentary Film Festival is excited to bring the compelling documentary “Kinderblock 66” to The Electric Theater in St. George July 27 at 7 p.m.
The film tells a little-known story of heartbreak and bravery, of an underground conspiracy led by political prisoners – many of them Communists – who made a conscious decision to save the boys who were sent to Kinderblock 66, a barracks for children at Buchenwald concentration camp during World War II.
Established in 1937, Buchenwald was one of the largest and most well-known German concentration camps. Early in its history, there had been Jewish prisoners at Buchenwald, but most had been killed or sent to Auschwitz to die in 1942.
In 1944, the Jewish population of Buchenwald rose again as the camp was flooded with some of the remnants of decimated European Jewry. Among these were a large and growing number of teenage boys, many of whom had lost family members in the ghettos and camps of Nazi-occupied Poland or in the more recent Hungarian deportations to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The German, Communist-led underground at Buchenwald, which administered the camp on a day-to-day basis, recognized this influx of children and youths as requiring a special response. The underground made a conscientious decision to do what might be possible to protect the youths.
The children were coming in such numbers that leaders in the clandestine conspiracy decided to establish a new children’s block, block 66. The location of the barracks was farthest away from the main gate and Nazi SS gaze, and the area was so horrible and disease ridden, the SS guards seldom went there.
The youths in the block did not work and were protected against being sent out of the camp. The block leaders watched over the children and cared for them to the extent possible, seeing in these youths hope for the future. They strove until the last days of the war and beyond to keep them alive and away from danger.
On April 11, 1945, Buchenwald was liberated. Nearly 1,000 boys survived. On April 11, 2010, 65 years later, several of the surviving boys from block 66 returned to Weimar and to Buchenwald.
“Kinderblock 66” is their story, and is not only a story of survival but also of how the human spirit and kindness can survive even in the most hellish circumstances. The July 27 screening at the Electric Theater will be hosted by producer Brad Rothschild, former director of communications for the Mission of Israel to the United Nations.
Phil Tuckett, professor of digital film and executive director of Docutah International Documentary Film Festival at Dixie State University, said in a press release for the event that documentary film reveals our world to us and that the medium offers a glimpse that is “at times uncomfortable to watch but important to understand.”
“This film allows the audience to see both the worst in mankind and the better angels of human nature,” he said. “It is important that we recognize the former and seek the latter.”
Tickets for the screening are $10. Advanced reservations are required, and tickets may be reserved online.
“As the 9th annual Docutah International Documentary Film Festival approaches, we believe that our mission of presenting the world as it is to our audience is fulfilled by the variety of subjects included,” Tuckett said. “This year there are 68 films from 14 countries, covering diverse subjects, which open a window on the human experience and the small planet on which we live.”
The films included in the 2018 festival, which runs from September 3–8, are listed on the Docutah website. Complete festival information and ticketing will be available in late July.
- What: DSU Docutah screening of “Kinderblock 66.”
- When: Friday, July 27, 7 p.m.
- Where: Electric Theater, 68 E. Tabernacle Street, St. George.
- Cost: Advance ticket reservations are required and can be made online. Entry is $10 cash to be paid at the door for those who reserved tickets.
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