In the aftermath of World War II, Christian midwives in Kupiskis, a small Lithuanian shtetl that was called Kupishok by its Jews, compiled a list of the Jews of the town that were murdered by the German Nazis and their Lithuanian accomplices in the summer of 1941. All of the Jewish men, women and children in the town were herded into a makeshift ghetto and then marched to a cemetery reserved for atheists, where they were shot and buried in unmarked pits. The midwives’ list of more than 800 precious names was a secret Mitzvah until the Soviets left Lithuania in the early 1990’s and a small numbers of survivors and descendants of the town’s Jews were allowed to visit the town.
On July 13, 2004, more than 50 survivors and descendants of the Jews of Kupishok, ages 9 to 86, now living in the United States, Israel, the UK, Denmark, South Africa and Australia, returned to the town to dedicate a magnificent Wall of Memory, designed and constructed in Washington, D.C. Unlike most other Holocaust memorials in Europe, the Wall of Memory is not in a killing field or cemetery: it is in the center of town, where ordinary citizens, particularly children, see its vital and unforgettable message, portrayed in Lithuanian, Hebrew and English.
This is the story of what the descendants and survivors came back to find; and how the present administration and residents of the town reacted. For most of the descendants it was a journey of self-discovery. For everyone, Jews and non-Jews, the events in Kupishok offered a ray of hope, perhaps even of redemption, at a time when so-called “new” antisemitism is sweeping across Europe.
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For Eternal Memory
Remembrance and Redemption in the Shadow of the New Anti-Semitism
USA, 2005, 60 minutes
Directed by Norman Meyer and Harvey Sherzer
Public Exhibition formats: Beta, DVD