In Defense of Dancing at Auschwitz to 'I Will Survive' With Grandkids

Sheri Reed
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Auschwitz Death Camp dancing

Last summer, Holocaust survivor Adolek Kohn, at the prompting of his daughter Jane Korman, made a video dancing with his grandkids to Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" at the Auschwitz Death Camp and other Holocaust sites.

For obvious reasons, some people couldn't accept the video or found it offensive while others found it to be inspiring and full of hope. This week Kohn and Korman defended their family's video.

Here's the video in case you missed it:

Holocaust survivor Adolek Kohn and his daughter Jane Korman talked to the BBC yesterday about the making of the video and what it meant to them.

When Adolek, Jane, and the grandkids arrived in Poland, Jane revealed her plan to record the family dancing at the sites.

Adolek said, "I didn't mind dancing because I arrived with my five grandchildren and my daughter in Auschwitz. If somebody had asked me then that I would come 62 years later with my grandchildren to Auschwitz, I would send him to a madhouse," he said.

"We said a prayer for the dead people. Then after, we started to dance," explained Adolek. "Of course, the memory of Auschwitz still exists, even now, but the dancing was also very important because we are alive. We survived. We were dancing to the song of survival."

The video was put on YouTube in January and has received over 500,000 hits and 3,000 comments. Many viewers had a hard time understanding why a family would dance at these Holocaust memorial sites where millions of victims died at the hands of Nazis. I admit I myself found watching it pretty uncomfortable before I sat with it a few times.

"Of course, not everybody can understand why we dance at Auschwitz!" said Adolek. "We survived. We created a new generation. A beautiful generation."

About her vision for this video, Jane told the BBC:

"It was really important for me to create some sort of work that had a fresh interpretation of the Holocaust. Especially for the younger generation, because I could see that even the word 'Holocaust' and the images that one sees of the Holocaust were numbing to people and in fact, they weren't even interested.

"So I realized I needed to create something that would wake people up, that would create a new response to this past because I think it's so important the lessons of the Holocaust must not be forgotten, the lessons of stereotyping people, prejudices, and how we can be tolerant, how important it is to continue be tolerant of differences."

I'd love to hear what the grandkids thought about making this video -- what it felt like for them, what they learned, and what they experienced. I wonder if Jane's hope to stir something in the next generation came to fruition. Surely, it must have made some impact.

What do you think of this video? Do you think kids need a strong message like this to understand the horrors of our history?


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