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Holocaust survivor documentary to premiere at USF

TAMPA, Fla. -- The University of South Florida College of Arts and Sciences will host the Tampa premiere screening of “Behind the Wall” at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 3, 2014 in the Marshall Student Center’s Oval Theater at the University of South Florida.

In “Behind the Wall,” Jerry Rawicki shares his memories on site in Warsaw, Poland where he returned in the summer of 2013 for the first time since he was a boy. Working collaboratively with ethnographer Carolyn Ellis, Ph.D., chair and professor of the Department of Communication at USF, Rawicki discusses his thoughts and feelings about his homeland, explores the working of memory and considers the virtue of forgiveness.

Being back in Poland and speaking in his native Polish language stimulated Rawicki to recall details of his experience that had been lost and to consider his complex relationship to Poland and the Polish people. As a result, Rawicki said he has a larger view of his history and an increasing desire to contribute in ways that might make a difference.

Now aged 86 and widowed, Rawicki shares his experiences among countless, invaluable stories of survival during the Holocaust. While the effects of the Holocaust reverberate throughout the lives of survivors, the events themselves recede into the past. With each passing day, firsthand Holocaust accounts such as Rawicki’s become increasingly difficult to evoke as survivors approach the end of life. Consequently, there is little time left to establish testimony in direct collaboration with witnesses, Ellis said.

Their histories, experiences and the lifelong effects of the traumas they endured are critical to our understanding of not only the individuals’ lives, but also the resiliency of the human spirit in the face of horrific events. Additionally, providing opportunities for survivors to share their stories offers comfort and opens a path to the future for them and their families, Ellis said.

After the film, Rawicki and Ellis will discuss their five-year collaborative witnessing project on personal testimony about the Holocaust, with special attention to the trip to Poland, including visiting Treblinka where Rawicki’s mother and sister were killed.

This presentation is free and open to the public. For directions to the venue, please visit: For additional event information, please contact Christina Goldstein by email at or by phone at (813)974-5712.


Filed under:Arts and Sciences Communication Events   
Author: Christina Goldstein