This 12-minute film depicts the contradictory reality of Jewish life in a Displaced Persons' (DP) camp, in Landsberg, Germany. Meant for an outside audience, the film shows a thriving community with job training programs, children in Jewish schools, and Zionist activity. At the same time, the film calls attention to the need for further supplies, improved conditions, and Jewish immigration to Palestine. Shot by Lithuanian Jewish survivor Zvi Hirsh Kadushin (later known as George Kadish), who had been a math and science teacher at the Hebrew High School in Kovno, Lithuania prior to the war. His photography hobby became a means to document the Kovno ghetto during the Holocaust. Kadish's photographs of deportations, forced labor, and the burning of the ghetto now serve as a significant record of otherwise undocumented aspects of life in the DP camps.1
The documentary featured here, entitled "The Persecuted," was most likely produced for Jewish organizations to publicize the plight of Jewish DPs. This footage is missing its soundtrack, but the opening credits indicate that music was provided by the Jewish Ex-Concentration Camp Orchestra, a group that toured throughout the DP camps. While the circulation of this film is unknown, its visual subjects clearly aim to highlight specific aspects of Jewish DP camp life. The film depicts a woman receiving a training certification from the ORT organization.2 Children are shown playing, learning in school, and presenting written materials to United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) officials. Shots of babies and mothers in carriages are also featured here—a nod to the emphasis on the literal and figurative rebirth of postwar Jewry.3 The film also records the camp's Zionist activities and emigration efforts.
The film straddles the boundary between raw footage and documentary by using both candid and staged scenes.4 Like Benjamin Gasul's footage of prewar Warsaw, we do not know the exact nature of the relationship between the filmmaker and his filmed subjects. Like Gasul's film, some of the people featured here seem fascinated with the camera while others ignore it completely. As in Norman Krasna's film (another constructed documentary), the camera captures interesting background images, such as dilapidated buildings, uniformed officers, and people's facial expressions.