Fall Films to Feature Portraits of Courage in the Holocaust

HOUSTON, TX (Sept. 24, 2012) – Holocaust Museum Houston will present three films this fall focusing on stories of individuals who, at great personal risk, actively helped Jews during the Holocaust or fought back to help their own people – ordinary people who became extraordinary because of their actions in opposition to persecution and antisemitism.Sophie Scholl

On Thursday, Oct 18, the Museum will screen the movie “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days,” in German with subtitles and based on the true story of Germany’s most famous anti-Nazi heroine brought to thrilling, dramatic life. The film re-creates the last six days of Sophie Scholl’s life: a heart-stopping journey from arrest to interrogation, trial and sentence in 1943 Munich. Unwavering in her convictions and loyalty to her comrades, her cross-examination by the Gestapo quickly escalates into a searing test of wills as Scholl delivers a passionate call to freedom and personal responsibility that is both haunting and timeless. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2005. The screening and discussion afterward will be moderated by Museum docent Lynn Gordon.

On Thursday, Nov. 15, the series continues with “Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh.” This 86-minute documentary tells the story of Hannah Senesh, who at age 22 parachuted into Nazi-occupied Europe in an effort to save the Jews of Hungary. As a poet and diarist, she left behind a body of work that has inspired generations. Narrated by Academy Award nominee Joan Allen, “Blessed is the Match” is the first film to present the life story of this remarkable, talented and complex woman. Senesh was safe in Palestine in 1944 when she joined the only military rescue mission for Jews during the Holocaust. After parachuting behind enemy lines, she was captured, tortured and ultimately executed by the Nazis. Her mother, Catherine Senesh, witnessed the entire ordeal — first as a prisoner with Hannah and later as her advocate, braving the bombed-out streets of Budapest in a desperate attempt to save her daughter. The screening and discussion afterward will be moderated by Museum docent and Museum Board member Jerry Rochman.

Closing the series on Thursday, Dec. 6, is “Varian’s War,” based on Varian Fry's extraordinary true story. Fry was an American journalist who was convinced, years before America became directly involved in World War II, that Nazi Germany's abusive policies against Jews and other "outsiders" would soon have grim consequences around the world. But Fry had a hard time convincing other Americans of the extent of the Nazi threat in 1938, and he eventually relocated to Germany to cover the rise of the Nazis in hopes of bringing his warning call to the world.

Fry's efforts earned him the respect of Europe's intellectual and creative community, and in 1940, Fry aligned himself with a number of American organizations as he began working to smuggle refugees out of Europe and to safety. Along with thousands of ordinary citizens, Fry helped to save Marc Chagall, Heinrich Mann, Max Ernst, Andre Benton, and a number of other important artists and writers from execution at the hands of Hitler's henchmen. The film stars William Hurt, Julia Ormond, Alan Arkin and Lynn Redgrave. The screening and discussion afterward will be moderated by Museum docent Bryan Howell.

All three films begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Theater at the Museum’s Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St., in Houston’s Museum District. Seating is limited and advance registration is requested. Admission is $5 each for HMH members and $8 for nonmembers. Visit http://www.hmh.org/RegisterEvent.aspx to RSVP online for each film separately. Seniors and students may pay a $4 admission price at the door.

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.

Holocaust Museum Houston’s Morgan Family Center is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004. For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.

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