HERE LIVED

The story of hidden children, murdered parents, and the stones that bring healing.

Released

2023

Running time

79 Mins

Directed by

Jane Wells

Produced by

Jane Wells

HERE LIVED Poster

Story Summary

Stone by stone: HERE LIVED is the story of hidden children, murdered parents, generational trauma, and one artist’s singular vision for healing.

When conceptual artist Gunter Demnig first conceived of laying Stolpersteine (literal translation: stumbling stones) for Roma, Sinti, and disabled victims of National Socialism (Nazi’s) in his native Germany, he never imagined his project would grow to become the world’s largest decentralized memorial.

The Stolpersteine he crafted are, in theory, quite simple: concrete blocks measuring 10x10cm, topped with polished brass plates that are hand stamped with the names and fates of victims of Hitler’s reign of terror. These handmade stones are laid into the pavement in front of the last voluntarily chosen residence of those murdered by the Nazis. The stones, requested by surviving family members, represent a deeply personal commemoration to those affected by the horrors of Nazi occupation. Today, Stolpersteine have been placed in 30 countries across Europe, and on May 23, 2023, 3 Generations filmed Gunter Demnig laying the 100,000th Stolperstein.

HERE LIVED charts the conceptualization, development, and lasting emotional significance of the Stolpersteine project. The filmmakers delve into the relatively unknown history of the hidden children in the Netherlands who evaded Nazi capture by hiding in occupied territory. They focus on the role of everyday citizens like Henriëtte Pimentel, a Dutch teacher who risked her life to secretly transport Jewish children to sympathetic host families, as well as survivors of the Nazi reign, like Reini Elkerbout, who lived through the occupation and returned to a post-war society that refused to fully accept the horrors of the Holocaust.

The film retraces the construction, journey, and impact of the stones through the stories of Dutch victims and their families. We encounter Ulrika Citron, the daughter of a hidden child; Alexander Stukenberg, Demnig’s Amsterdam apprentice; local and international politicians and volunteers; and even Bella Leavitt, an American teenager. As their stories intertwine and coalesce, we come to understand how the art project, which Demnig calls “social sculpture,” has brought about a new and remarkable mode of collective healing. The Stolpersteine project honors the lives of those affected, foregrounds the human element of World War II’s dark history, and serves as a reminder to never forget the atrocities of the Nazis. In the words of Stukenberg, “We keep people’s memories alive by saying their names.” Ultimately, HERE LIVED is a film about the beauty of discovery, love, and reconciliation, and about the unimaginable pain of those murdered by the Nazis under fascism.

Due to its poignant historical relevance, the filmmakers opted to center their narrative in the Netherlands. Apart from Poland, the country suffered the highest number of Jewish lives lost during World War II. The substantial demand for Stolpersteine in the Netherlands underscores both the scale of loss, and the significance of Demnig’s project.

Against the backdrop of a war in Europe, the perpetual plague of anti-Semitism and racism around the world, and the upcoming 80th anniversary of the Nazi’s defeat, this extraordinary tale of resilience, remembrance, and community deeply resonates with our contemporary moment. HERE LIVED is a timely and profoundly moving testament to the enduring power of human compassion and solidarity.

 

HERE LIVED Music by Brian Keane

Credits

Produced & Directed by:Jane Wells
Edited by: Francesco Portinari
Cinematography by:

Matthew Landfield

Emmanuel Bastien

Producer:

Ulrika Citron

Executive Producers: Heidi Drymer
Co-Executive Producers:

Nadia Zilkha

Production Sound Mixer:Jan Le Pool
Associate Producer: 

Daniel Carolan

 

 

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