Secret Lives: Hidden Children and Their Rescuers During WWII (2001)

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Critic Consensus: A moving, important testament to these children and the familes who took them in.

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Of the 1.5 million Jewish children living in Europe in 1939, only some 150,000 survived the Holocaust. Many of those survivors were sheltered from the Nazi juggernaut by a secret, ad hoc network of courageous non-Jewish European adults, who literally put their own lives on the line so that others might live. Among the children who escaped the horror of the "final solution" was Aviva Slesin, who spent the war years under the protection of a gallant Lithuanian family, and who grew up to become a documentary filmmaker. Produced in 2000, Secret Lives: Hidden Children & Their Rescuers During WWII was Slesin's personal account of the efforts made by other "Children of the Holocaust" to be reunited with the families who had saved them -- and to find out what had happened to their own biological families. Making its first appearance at the New York Jewish Film Festival on January 13, 2002, Secret Lives was given scattered national theatrical distribution in May of 2003, ultimately realizing its biggest audience when it was telecast as part of Cinemax's Reel Life anthology on October 14, 2003. (The TV version runs 90 minutes, some 18 minutes longer than the original theatrical cut.)

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Critic Reviews for Secret Lives: Hidden Children and Their Rescuers During WWII

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (19)

... we are reminded once again that heroism is as mysterious as evil.

Jan 26, 2018 | Full Review…

Rewarding viewing.

Oct 10, 2003

With economy, insight and skill, Slesin evokes all of the conflicting and contradictory emotions that attended these remarkable relationships.

Oct 10, 2003

The overriding sense one gets from this short but powerful film is awe.

Sep 4, 2003 | Rating: 3/4

The images seem at first unspectacular, until you realize that this is their value -- as records of normal children leading normal lives in a most abnormal time.

Jul 25, 2003 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

A canticle to compassion, a memorial to those who risked torture and death to save innocents.

Jul 11, 2003 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

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