February 5, 2008 (RALEIGH, NC) — Each year, in cities across the nation, special services are held to remember the Holocaust, honor its survivors, and raise awareness so that this atrocity will never happen again.
In Raleigh, North Carolina, a film director and the son of a 78-year-old survivor who has carried the number the Nazis tattooed on his arm for 65 years, has conceived of a way to support the effort through a public service announcement (PSA) that focuses on those haunting numbers.
Allen Weiss, whose father Harry managed to survive the Nazi death camps in Landesberg, Dachau and Aucshwitz, is working with Trailblazers production company in Raleigh to create “Remember,” a 30-second PSA that features survivors and their progeny – children, grandchildren – including his own father and his two daughters, Emily and Natalie Weiss. Trailblazers is donating time, equipment and crew to produce the spot, which should air throughout North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) if local television stations pick it up.
Coming up with the concept of “Remember” was just a matter of time, Weiss said.
“Being the child of a survivor, doing something to keep the Holocaust in the mind of the public was, to me, a given.
“The central concept of this piece is this: There is no better way to assert the fact that people are individuals and not numbers, than to assign numbers to people. That’s exactly what the Nazi machine did. So this concept is simple — have Survivors, and their progeny, appear on camera and simply, bluntly, state their number.”
After putting the idea on paper, he sought the approval of the person most responsible for it — his father.
“After he gave it his blessing, I brought it before the North Carolina Council on the Holocaust,” Weiss said. “They fully endorsed and approved the idea, but there is no money for production. So I called upon everyone I knew in the production community, and the support was overwhelming. The biggest endorsement and commitment came from Trailblazer Studios/Red Truck Films, right here in Raleigh. I have had an excellent relationship with them for many years, and their commitment was immediate and comprehensive.”
With the Council’s help, Weiss sought out other survivors. “This is at once the toughest and easiest casting job I’ve ever had,” Weiss said. “Easy because, well, they are who they are. And tough for the same reason.”
Two other survivors – Robert Spitz and Peter Leonard, both of Raleigh – agreed and showed up at Trailblazers’ studios recently to commit their faces and stories to film.
Three children of survivors also made themselves available to the production — Anya Gordon (of Irregardless restaurant), Mike Abramson (chairman of the NC Council on he Holocaust) and Maureen Werthheimer. Weithheimer’s two daughters — Kaylyn & Ariana Siporin – joined Harry Weiss’ granddaughters on film as grandchildren of survivors.
Allen Weiss and Trailblazers are editing the PSA now and hope to have it ready to present to area television stations within the month.
“In the wake of such a global catastrophe, this project is nothing more than a pebble tossed in the ocean,” Weiss said. “But the ripples that those pebbles create can be huge — as long as people keep tossing the pebbles, nobody will forget what they mean or where they came from.”
For more information on Remember, contact Allen Weiss at email@example.com or call 919-272-8834.
I maintain a military website which includes a segment on Dachau. You may find it of interest in preparing for your film production. I was so very happy to read the Dachau blog yesterday. Keep up the good work. My phone number is 919- 463-9014. Looking forward to seeing your film.
I am a resident of Cary, NC.
Albert R. Panebianco