United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday praised a film documenting the harrowing tribulations of two Holocaust survivors as “a journey toward truth.”
Speaking at the Ambassadors Against BDS event at the UN, Haley contrasted the film, created by Sara Greenberg, with the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign intended to vilify Israel. “The effort to delegitimize Israel that travels under the name BDS is something very different,” she stated. “It is a movement away from truth and away from history.”
In the film, B-2247, Greenberg seeks to understand the ordeals her maternal grandparents, Joseph and Rila Gringlas, suffered in the Holocaust. Her efforts began as a child when her curiosity was piqued by her grandfather’s Auschwitz concentration camp tattoo, the title of the film.
The Gringlas and Greenberg families traveled to Eastern Europe in 2005 to see the towns where the filmmaker’s grandparents grew up and to visit Auschwitz, where her grandfather was interred. Recalling when he first arrived, Gringlas said, “At night we saw four crematoriums — the sky was all red from burning, from burning.”
“Hate comes into people like a sickness. They think that other people shouldn’t live, and they should live,” Gringlas said while touring the ruins of the crematoriums. “If you allow this to happen, it’s still going on even now after 50 years. We still what’s going on in the world … still coming out of sick people. They want to hate. They want to destroy. They want to kill. People don’t learn nothing, no lesson.”
Gringlas returned to Auschwitz in 2013 under slightly different circumstances, accompanied not only by his family, but also by a contingent from the Israel Defense Forces. He expressed his appreciation in an address:
Good morning generals, soldiers, friends and family. It’s difficult to be here in Auschwitz, a place where I witnessed such death and destruction. But it’s an honor to be here with you, the Israeli Defense Forces. Today in Auschwitz I know I have regained dignity. If [the] Jewish state and IDF had existed in the late 1930s, the fate of millions of Jews would have been different. Now we have a Jewish state and a homeland of the Jewish people. And for this I say thank you. Todah Rabba. [Thank you very much.] Am Yisrael Chai. [The people of Israel lives.]
[Photo: Michel Zacharz / Wikimedia]