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April 05, 1991 - Image 54

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-04-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

HOLOCAUST

PH OTO C

APRIL 1 - 30

KIDS
13E
"TINY DOUBLE'

DRESS UP LIKE

Mommy - Daddy
A Doctor -- A Rock Star
A Ballerina - A Cowboy

$35 entry fee includes:
photo session & one 4 x 6 Tiny Doublt
WINNER RECEIVES
ONE 8 X 10 TINY DOUBLE

CALL 354-2050
TINY DOUBLES

In a private Holocaust museum, Leonard Nimoy as Mel Mermelstein shows children some artwork made of barbed
wire from Auschwitz.

'Never Forget'

COCKTAILS

EXQUISITE FASHIONS

APRIL SALE!

OUR ENTIRE STOCK
IS ON SALE
THROUGH APRIL!
Crosswinds Mall

ORCHARD LAKE ROAD AT LONE PINE
WEST BLOOMFIELD

851.7633

A new film puts a modern perspective on the lessons
of the Nazi Holocaust.

FAY BRIGHT

Special to The Jewish News

ernie Mermelstein
remembers his
father's tattoo, the
row of numbers that marked
him as a survivor of
Auschwitz. As a child, the
son squirmed out of his
father's arms to avoid
touching it.
"It made me sick," he later
told his father, Mel. "I was
afraid it would rub off on me
somehow. I wasn't ashamed
of you. I was ashamed of me.
I was scared."
Never Forget, which
premieres on Turner Net-
work Television, is based on
one man's life-long cam-
paign to tell the story of the
Holocaust and the suffering
it brought his family. The
program will be replayed
several times through April.
What makes this cable
film different from most
movies about the Holocaust
is the contemporary setting.
Only the first scene, depic-
ting the arrest of the
Mermelstein family, takes
place during Hitler's reign of
terror.
A 1 7-year-old Mel
Mermelstein, his father and
brother are playing a
spirited game of soccer in a
woodland clearing in
Hungary. At game's end, as
the elder Mermelstein hugs

Fay Bright writes for the
Atlanta Jewish Times.

54

FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 1991

his wife, Nazi soldiers ap-
pear and force the family
into an open wagon already
crowded with Jews.
The locale shifts immedi-
ately to Southern California
in 1981.
Mel Mermelstein, now 53
and played by Leonard
Nimoy, is in a classroom
talking with high school
students about the Holo-
caust. A Hispanic student
rises and parrots his father's
opinion that Jews were
never gassed and it was all
"a bunch of lies."
The Auschwitz-Birkenau
survivor pauses and replies
quietly, "Yes, I've heard this
idea before. And I guess it is
what you would expect
Hitler would say if he were
back on earth. I think the
question is, 'Would you
believe him?' "
Mr. Mermelstein, who
arrived in New York in 1946
dressed in rags and shaking
from typhus, had become a
successful businessman. He
had married a teacher
(Blythe Danner) and was
raising four children.
He has tenaciously kept a
promise he made to his
father in Auschwitz to never
let the world forget what
happened there. Mr.
Mermelstein speaks to
schools, civic groups and to
"anyone who will listen"
about the Holocaust. He has
built a museum to the Holo-
caust on the grounds of his
lumber by-products busi-

ness. Displayed in rows of
glass cases are items from
the camps — prison
uniforms, baby shoes, toilet
articles and barbed wire.
There are also photographs
of his family, all of whom
perished. The 93-minute
docudrama turns on Mr.
Mermelstein's lawsuit,
begun in 1981, against the
Institute for Historical Re-
view (IHR) and the em-
barrassment and fear his ac-
tions caused his family.
The California-based IHR
offers $50,000 to the first
person who could prove Jews
were gassed in concentration

"This film will be
part of the body of
work to validate
the Holocaust."
Leonard Nimoy

camps. The organization
denies that six million Jews
were murdered in Nazi
death camps and contends
that the Holocaust is a myth.
According to the IHR, the
gas chambers were delous-
ing centers and the Jews
who were burned in
crematoria died from
malnutrition and disease.
Mr. Mermelstein accepts
the IHR, challenge.
When the IHR fails to re-
spond to Mr. Mermelstein's
application, he seeks a
lawyer to sue the organiza-
tion. William Cox (Dabney

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