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As If It Were Yesterday

A film by Myriam Abramovicz and Esther Hoffenberg

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Belgium, 1940. Amidst escalating terror and raids on Jewish residents by the occupying Nazi forces, a resistance movement emerges to shelter Jewish children from deportation and extermination. Myriam Abramowicz and Esther Hoffenberg’s 1982 documentary As if it Were Yesterday centers on a series of candid interviews with the members of the Belgian Resistance who organized the rescue of over 4,000 children, as well the children themselves—now grown, yet still marked by their experience under occupation.

The members of the Belgian Resistance—teachers, homemakers, social workers—explain how they were compelled to take action. Whether from a sense of personal morality, mutual obligation, or resistance to fascism, they give a powerful account of how acts of heroism emerge from horrific circumstances. Surviving children detail their own experience, where protection from the Nazis came at the cost of isolation and the sacrifice of a normal childhood. Both an essential document of the Belgian resistance to Nazi occupation and an exploration of how people are driven to acts of solidarity and courage, As if it Were Yesterday is a moving tribute to the spirit of resistance.

“If the years of the Nazis were a time when the hounds of hell had been unleashed, it was also a time that turned ordinary mortals into extraordinary heroes. This is brought out hearteningly in As If It Were Yesterday, a film about Belgians who saved Jewish children.” —The New York Times

Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival 2019
Gerettet Auf Zeit program, Ludwig Museum, Köln 2019
Mémorial de la Shoah, Paris 2022

84 minutes / B&W
French / English subtitles
Release: 1980
Copyright: 2020

For individual consumers (home video)

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Subject areas:
Jewish Studies, Western Europe, World War II, Belgium

Related Links:
The Films of Esther Hoffenberg

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