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Zygielbojm's Death 2000


Distributed by Filmakers Library, 124 East 40th Street NY, NY 10016; 212-808-4980
Produced by Dzamila Ankiewicz and Marek Nowowiejski
Director n/a
VHS, color, 88 min.


Date Entered: 11/09/2018

Reviewed by Michael Fein, Coordinator of Library Services, Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg, VA

Arthur Szmul Zygielbojm was a member of the Polish Government-in-Exile in London from 1942-1943, one of, it seems, only two Jewish members. Prominent as a Socialist/Labor organizer before the War, he killed himself the day after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was finally quashed in order to jolt the Western Allied leaders into action. "Of course, it didn't," one of those interviewed in this production notes. Arthur's brother Reuven relates the tragedy.

We see Reuven as he travels in England and Poland, visiting the places where his brother lived and worked. During these travels, he interviews a number of people who knew and worked with Arthur. The production uses stills, archival film, as well as contemporary video to present the story. All are of very good to excellent quality. Footage of the Warsaw Ghetto is moving and some of it is definitely not for the squeamish. All of the dialogue save for a small portion in Yiddish, is in Polish with English subtitles. The subtitles are readable, except whenever a new person is identified. In these cases, the letters tend to run together. This is a fascinating production, but will probably appeal to a very limited number of scholars in such areas as Polish/Eastern European Studies, Jewish Studies, and Holocaust Studies. It would most likely appeal to upper division undergraduates or graduate students in these disciplines and is recommended, for them.