A Letter to Wedgwood: The Life of Gabriella Hartstein Auspitz| 56mins
Director: Yale Strom | Producer: Gabriella Auspitz Labson
Focus Years: 2012 | Country: United States
Gabriella Hartstein was born in 1914 in Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia, a city shaped by its thriving and cosmopolitan Jewish community: Secular Hungarian Jews co-existed with Khasidim (led by the renowned, charismatic Rabbi Eliezer Shipra) and ardent Zionists. Mukacevo was such a center of Zionism that British Colonel Josiah Wedgwood in 1922 came to give a speech on why he and other Christian Zionists from England were supporting the plan of creating the State of Israel. For this momentous occasion, the Jewish community selected a little girl to present their esteemed visitor with flowers and a speech in English, one who had the beauty, charm and intellect to represent them. But Gabriella was so nervous, she burst into tears.
Years later, the adult Gabriella had become an ardent Zionist and teacher at the prestigious Hebrew gymnasium and the Jewish community continued to prosper... Until 1938, when the Hungarian Fascists invaded this part of Czechoslovakia (with encouragement from Germany) and suddenly, the noose tightened around all of Mukacevo's Jews. It was then that Gabriella had the audacious thought to write to the man (now Lord Wedgwood) who might be able to save her and her family. Did he remember that shy, little girl from many years ago?
Astonishingly, Lord Wedgwood personally interceded, ultimately bringing Gabriella and her brother to England. Gabriella's relationship with her unlikely rescuer is depicted through interviews, archival photos, rare archival footage and letters, and a moving soundtrack, and tells a rare story of survival and hope in the face of the Holocaust.
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