NEWPORT, R.I. – Kinderblock 66, a heart-wrenching new documentary film that tells the story of an underground prison at Buchenwald where nearly 1,000 Jewish children managed to survive the Nazi slave labor camp, will be publically screened when director Rob Cohen visits Salve Regina University on Monday, April 16.
The film, which focuses on four men who were among the surviving children who returned to Buchenwald 65 years after the horror, will be shown at 7 p.m. in Bazarsky Lecture Hall, located in the O’Hare Academic Center on Ochre Point Avenue.
Free and open to the public, the screening is being sponsored by Salve Regina’s office of Academic Affairs and the English department. A 30-minute question and answer session will be conducted with Cohen after the screening.
The Buchenwald concentration camp, located near Weimar, in Germany, was a central camp in the Nazi slave labor empire where prisoners were brought from camps throughout the Nazi system.
“In one corner of the camp, set apart from the main camp itself, was the Little Camp, a place so foul, so disease ridden that even the SS averted its eyes and refused to enter,” Cohen says. “And because the SS did not care to venture inside the Little Camp, a miracle happened: KinderBlock 66 became the home to over 1,000 boys. Through the efforts of the prisoner underground, 904 of those boys managed to survive the horrors of Buchenwald, protected from the death marches and the grotesque suffering that surrounded them in the Little Camp.”
The block was led by Antonin Kalina, a Czech Communist and his deputy, Gustav Schiller, a Polish Jew. The youths in the block did not work and were protected against being sent out of the camp. The block leaders watched over the children and cared for them to the extent possible, seeing in these youths hope for the future. They strove until the last days of the war and beyond to keep them from danger and alive.
On April 11, 1945, Buchenwald was liberated. Nearly 1000 boys survived. On April 11, 2010, 65 years later, several of the surviving boys from block 66 returned to Weimar and to Buchenwald. Kinderblock 66 is their story.