I Will Survive
July 10, 2010 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Similar to this video, In 2006 I went on a birthright israel trip. One of the women on the trip had recently done March of the Living. During March of the Living she had started to cry at one of the concentration camps. One of the Holocaust survivors who was on the trip came up to comfort her and said roughly, "you are sad because you see the past, but I am happy because I see the future."
posted by andoatnp at 11:14 AM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

WOW! That's a powerful video.
posted by buggzzee23 at 11:20 AM on July 10, 2010

"Korman's mother, who was also a Holocaust survivor, refused to join the trip because Poland held too many bad memories, Korman said and added that her father, on the other hand, mostly supported her idea of an artistic venture."

Mostly? Her father actually appears confused in many of the shots and somewhat reluctant to dance.
posted by ericb at 11:21 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I confused by the titty shaking.
posted by zzazazz at 11:32 AM on July 10, 2010

I wasn't going to watch it but when I did it made me cry (and not because of the dancing, which interestingly improves as it goes along). I am an atheist but was raised conservative Jewish, Hebrew school from third grade on (yes, I can still sound it out). By the time I was ten I think I'd read the complete three volume "History of the Jews" that segues right into the Holocaust. They showed us Truffaut's "Night and Fog" when I was twelve or so (by then Reform). Contrast that with my husband's upbriging, raised Catholic but living amongst various Baptists and born-agains in his formative years. He said he'd never heard of the Holocaust until high school and was surrounded by adults who claimed to have no idea of the subject. Yeah, it made me cry, this. Not sure why. (The Charleston really did me in.)
posted by emhutchinson at 11:36 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I see what she was trying to do and all, but I just can't help but think it's in really poor taste.
posted by lullaby at 11:36 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

zzazazz: "I confused by the titty shaking."

Fertility is an excellent rejoinder to attempted extermination. Shaking your tits is a tasteful alternative to filming amateur porn scenes at each of the sites.
posted by idiopath at 11:37 AM on July 10, 2010

Correction: Alain Resnais, not Truffaut. Sorry bout that.
posted by emhutchinson at 11:38 AM on July 10, 2010

Yes. This is what you do when someone tries to wipe out your race. You and your children and their children dance on the wreckage of his attempt.

But fucking grandpa wasn't even the worst dancer in the bunch.
posted by pracowity at 12:08 PM on July 10, 2010 [7 favorites]

I am not sure what to think. It doesn't really seem like 'art' so much as a home movie. Perhaps that's what it should have stayed.

I see what she tried to do, I really do. I just have mixed emotions about the appropriateness of it. It probably just hurt people a lot more than made them think.
posted by Malice at 12:18 PM on July 10, 2010

I think it's beautiful. Bad dancing is the voice of the heart.
And Grandpa looks just like every other grandparent who is into the idea of something, willing to try something new, but just a bit sketchy on how to do this new-fangled stuff the kids call 'dancing' these days.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:02 PM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

If someone's going to push buttons for the sake of "art" and do something like this in the context of the Holocaust, then I really wish they would have at least done something even remotely interesting.

Not only is this video fairly uncomfortable to watch, it's also just kind of boring and not even that original. I've seen probably a dozen supposedly funny videos of people dancing to "I Will Survive" over the past few years and, without fail, pretty much all of them are just terrible. Maybe I just don't find the whole "ironic cover song" meme very original at this point.

This one definitely feels worse, though.
posted by dhammond at 1:15 PM on July 10, 2010

My initial reaction before watching the video was 'hmm. this sounds a bit borderline' but after watching it (and part 3 where grandpa talks quite a bit) I think it's actually pretty remarkable.

Like he says, while he's standing in one of the train cars, looking out at the camera, if someone had told him when he was there the first time that he'd be back visiting and dancing with his grandchildren, he wouldn't have believed them. So yea, he seems a bit confused in some of the dancing, but listening to him talk, it's obvious he knows where he is and why he is there and you can tell he is genuinely happy to be there.
posted by johnstein at 2:12 PM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

When I heard the idea I thought "that's a good idea!", then I watched the video. I couldn't finish. It's not that grandpa seems a little confused at the dancing at times, nor the home-movie feel, it's the choice of song. It's like she only heard "I will survive" and promptly ignored the rest of lyrics. The idea is good, the execution is terrible.
posted by dabitch at 2:23 PM on July 10, 2010

I think the top YouTube comment sums it up pretty well:

Sir, if you are alive, you have survived. If´╗┐ you can live and go back there and not run screaming, you are courageous.
But if you can go there, with the family you have raised in love, if you can dance in the place they tried to murder you, if you can show your defiance of them and still be a mensch... well sir... then you have won.

I'm not really understanding the outrage. That old guy is one of the few people left qualified to judge the taste of this thing, and he's dancing, more than 70 years after the fact, in what used to be the worst place on Earth.

But, I think the real story here is that YouTube comments are no longer a uniform field of racism and idiocy.
posted by cmoj at 2:26 PM on July 10, 2010 [11 favorites]

I couldn't finish watching it. I won't argue the purpose and intent of the video, but for me, it was terribly upsetting watching them dance knowing that half of my family was killed in those camps.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 2:32 PM on July 10, 2010

How does this compare to the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode, where Larry introduces a Holocaust survivor to a winner of the reality TV program "Survivor?"
posted by Obscure Reference at 2:46 PM on July 10, 2010

All I can think is kudos to him, able to go back and dance in that place with beautiful grandchildren. If only all the controversy about the Holocaust was as superficial as to whether survivors and their descendants are being offensive by dancing in these places... And in this case I'm not motivated to judge it on artistic content, production values, dancing talent, etc. the idea of the statement is enough for me.
posted by meinvt at 5:40 PM on July 10, 2010

But, I think the real story here is that YouTube comments are no longer a uniform field of racism and idiocy.

In 70 years, some of us may be able to dance there.
posted by DU at 6:05 PM on July 10, 2010 [5 favorites]

The FPP link was only the first of three videos.

YouTube: Dancing Auschwitz, Part 2
This is the second part of the 'Dancing Auschwitz' video installation series. This video shows Marysia and Adolek Kohn, the Wysokiers, Leda Gringlass and me (Jane Korman) when I was a little girl dancing freely with my parents and their friends in a forest outside Melbourne.

This footage illustrates how both dancing, and my parents attitude to life, have been woven into my own life. Growing up, I was always present while my parents danced. As an adult, it seemed a natural process to merge the two influences that have shaped my life that of my parents' story and that of dance hence the project, Dancing Auschwitz.
YouTube: Dancing Auschwitz, Part 3
This clip complements the previous two clips in the series 'I Will Survive: Dancing Auschwitz.' In June 2009, I, together with my father, my four children and niece, travelled to Poland to retrace my parents' past. While on a cattle wagon at Radagost Station in Lodz, my father experiences flashbacks. He reenacts the memory of his three-day journey in a similar cattle wagon, heading to Auschwitz, 65 years earlier, and appears to enter a trancelike state. In his native tongue, he carries on an improvised dialogue with the peasants he passed on the way.

This clip also raises my own personal concerns as a Jew. I ask my father: 'Do I look like a 'JEW?' I ask my mother: 'If you had your time again, would you choose to be Jewish?' and I ask my daughter: 'What did you feel when you returned to Australia?'
I found it extremely difficult to watch the first video through to the end. It's immensely sad and perhaps a bit empowering. But no, I was not offended.
posted by zarq at 6:24 PM on July 10, 2010

Jewish Australian artist Jane Korman created video installation of her family dancing in front of Holocaust landmarks to show different point of view.... and because it would be a sure fire Youtube hit.
posted by the noob at 9:29 PM on July 10, 2010

I took this in the spirit of the Jewish actors on Hogan's Heroes -- at least one of whom (Banner [Schultz]?) is alleged to have taken the role only after learning that the Nazis would always be portrayed as buffoons. Several of them were either concentration camp internees themselves or had family members who died in camps.

I think reaching the point, ourselves, where we can move on from some kind of narrow, sacred interpretation of the events begins to rob them of their power. I think for some people it's important to retain that power, and I wonder if that's really a good thing.
posted by dhartung at 10:13 PM on July 10, 2010

What an interesting video. I expected to be offended, and initially I was in fact horrified, but the feeling quickly turned to an odd kind of exhilaration. I ended up being quite moved.

Yes, the music is cheesy and the dancing is terrible, and the whole thing looks like a home movie. I believe that's the point -- celebrating the victory of life, in all its sloppy, goofy glory, over mechanized, industrialized murder.

The video is offensive -- it's offensive to the sense of awed horror and soul-crushing brutality that the Nazis sought to create with these death factories, which, oddly, the preservation of these camps also preserves. Why not piss in the face of that?

Watching this, I kept thinking, if the spirits of the dead Nazis who planned, built, and ran these camps were still around and observing Earthly events, what would be more dismaying to them -- the fact that their obscenities were still around, over sixty years later, still instilling people with fear, horror, and sadness? Or the sight of those who outlived them, and their families, merrily dancing on the very sites where they were meant to be destroyed?
posted by Pants McCracky at 6:28 AM on July 11, 2010

Watching this, I kept thinking, if the spirits of the dead Nazis who planned, built, and ran these camps were still around and observing Earthly events, what would be more dismaying to them -- the fact that their obscenities were still around, over sixty years later, still instilling people with fear, horror, and sadness? Or the sight of those who outlived them, and their families, merrily dancing on the very sites where they were meant to be destroyed?

Their spiritual offspring are antisemitic white supremacists who frequent sites like Stormfront and Aryan Nations. From the Ha'aretz article:
"Apparently the video installation, which was exhibited in an Australia art gallery, was also picked up by several neo-Nazi websites in which they wrote "look, the Jews are still dancing in every corner. We aren't through with them; we will finish them in the next Holocaust.""

And apparently, they also comment on YouTube videos. There are 1000+ comments on "Dancing at Auschwitz." Skim them. They range from praise, to concerns that dancing on the site of a former concentration camp is distasteful, to anger at Ms. Korman's lack of respect for the dead, to brief comments from survivors, anger against Israel, and then to outright Holocaust deniers, and accusations that this is another example of Jews capitalizing monetarily on the "Holohoax."

I honestly don't know what those dead Nazis would think. But their legacy lives on.
posted by zarq at 7:26 AM on July 11, 2010

Celebration of Life indeed. Incredible!
posted by ouke at 8:13 AM on July 11, 2010

There is never anything offensive about the survivors of genocide dancing.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:37 PM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Considering the fact that my visit to Terezin resulted in me collapsing to my knees and crying, I can't even explain how happy this makes me. Someone who actually experienced such horror and who is able to dance on the ruins of hell is about as much greatness as can be expected in a human life.
posted by snottydick at 8:57 AM on July 12, 2010

My grandmother left Germany in '38 to avoid being taken to the camps. She's my father's mother, not my mother's mother, so I'm not *fully* Jewish (ethnically speaking), but it's still a huge part of my heritage.

Yes, I absolutely have family who died in the camps.

Yes, I absolutely loved the hell out of this. If you can have enough joy in your heart to overcome the torture that happened to you and go back and effin' dance in the face of your previous oppression... then yes, as the YouTube commenter said, you have won.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got something in my eye...
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:44 AM on July 14, 2010

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