IN 2005, on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp, local filmmakers Danny Ben-Moshe, Uri Mizrachi and Andrew Weisman made the acclaimed documentary The Buchenwald Ball which followed the Buchenwald “boys” as they set about celebrating the 60th anniversary of their liberation with a gala ball.
Ten years on, and to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Buchenwald, the film is being re-released on demand. All proceeds from downloads will go towards a new inspiring documentary about Holocaust survivors set in Melbourne’s Jewish Holocaust Museum.
Originally screened during prime time on SBS, the film rated in the top 10 documentaries of the year for the multicultural broadcaster. The film went on to play on TV stations and at Jewish film festivals around the world.
The Buchenwald Ball is an uplifting story that celebrates survival. Full of swagger and joie de vivre, the documentary tells the story of 45 orphans who survived the Holocaust and settled after World War II in Australia, where they celebrate the anniversary of their liberation from Buchenwald with a gala ball on the day of their liberation, April 11, 1945.
These men drink hard, argue with gusto and dance to live, but as the film unfolds, we see through intense, intimate, soul-searching, darkly humorous and always revealing moments, how they also live with having gone through one of the darkest episodes of human history.
Ben-Moshe said, “The film was so well received when it was originally released and people still talk about it. I often get requests from people asking where they can see it, and as the 70th anniversary approached it seemed like an appropriate time to re-release the documentary.”
The Buchenwald Boys are men with an irrepressible life force, full of vigour and humour. This post-Holocaust film documents the tenacity of their human spirit in the aftermath of tragedy.
Filled with dancing, music and a spritely energy that defies their age, the ball is a testament to their determination to survive. This film captures their passion and memories for future generations – it is a cautionary tale for when they are gone, with many having sadly passed away in the decade since the film was made.
Buchenwald Boy and lead character in the film Szaja Chaskiel said, “Unfortunately we have lost some of the boys since the film was made, but they live on, as does our collective legacy, in this film”.
The Buchenwald Boys today, from left, Joe Szwarcberg, Henry Salter, Szaja Chaskiel and Sam Michalowicz. Photo: Zak Ben-Moshe