Everyone’s Holocaust

Not many people know that Libyan Jews were sent to Nazi concentration camps …

By Goel Pinto
Last Update: 04/05/2005 01:50

When Pesach came, Alfonso Reginiano’s mother brought out two hard-boiled eggs that she had saved for three months, ever since their arrival at Bergen-Belsen camp, and cut them into 21 pieces, one for each member of the family. Reginiano, who was born in Libya and survived the Nazi concentration camp, tells of the humiliation and hunger he experienced in the documentary film “Hashoah Halo Noda’at Shel Yehudei Tsfon Africa” (The Unknown Holocaust of North African Jewry), which will be broadcast this evening on Channel 1.

Shalom Arbiv, also a native of Libya, who survived the Sidi Azaz camp, tells of his transfer to the camp, located 100 kilometers from Tripoli.

“They shot people like flies,” he testifies in the film, “and beat them mercilessly with sticks.”

The story of Libyan Jewry is also the subject of “Mitripoli Lebergen Belsen” (From Tripoli to Bergen-Belsen), which will also be broadcast this evening, on Yes. The film opens with a scene from the trial of Adolph Eichmann, but unlike many Holocaust films, these pictures are shown to tell the story of those whose testimonies were deemed superfluous to the trial of the German criminal.

“When North African Jewry wanted to tell their story at the Eichmann trial,” says Dr. Irit Abromski-Bligh of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Authority, “they were told, `You do not belong to this story.'”

No comparison

“From Tripoli to Bergen-Belsen,” directed by Marco Carmel, is the first of two documentary films combined under the title, “Sh’eila Shel Zman” (A Matter of Time. The two films, each about an hour long, deal with the fate of North African Jewry during WWII. The second film, “Goral Meshutaf” (Shared Fate), directed by Serj Ankari, follows the tribulations of the Jews of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The two films raise many questions, the first of which is how is it that so many Israelis are unaware that the German reach extended to North Africa.

This question makes the two films all the more important. The two directors faced a difficulty that does not confront the creators of documentary films on the Holocaust experiences of European Jews. While films about the European Holocaust – which are part of a known historical context.

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