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Holocaust Survivors Team Up With Songwriters to Turn Their Stories Into Music in PBS Special


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

A general view shows part of an exhibition at the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, before beginning of Israel’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day. REUTERS/ Ronen Zvulun

PBS will premiere next month a one-hour special about four Holocaust survivors who collaborated with songwriters to turn their personal stories of survival during World War II into original songs.

“We Remember: Songs of Survivors” airs on April 26, two days before Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. The documentary highlights four singer-songwriters in New York’s Hudson Valley who are asked to create pieces of music about the experiences of four local Holocaust survivors.

The special showcases the relationships that develop between the participants, the months-long writing process, and a live concert where the survivors and songwriters are gathered with friends, family and the community.

“Many documentaries exist about the Holocaust. However, few have taken such a unique approach to telling these horrific stories. We wanted to shed light on the devastating experiences of Holocaust survivors while celebrating the possibilities of healing through the power of music,” said Tim Miller, co-producer of the PBS special. “Little did we know this film, with its powerful message, would change the lives of both the survivors and songwriters.”

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Interviews with the survivors also give a personal look into their experiences during the war, while the songwriters create video diaries to document their own journey of telling a Holocaust survivor’s story through music.

“At a time when the world is faced with the horrors of war and hatred, we wanted to tell this hopeful story of perseverance and love,” said Ilene Cutler, co-producer of the one-hour special.

Zara Frankel, director of programming and development at PBS, said the network “is honored to shed light on this moving and powerful project, which illuminates the ways in which music can uniquely memorialize these stories of resiliency.”

“Through a collaborative songwriting process, the musicians featured in this film showcase the inspirational lives of each survivor, commemorating the full breadth of strength and joy they inspired in their lifetime,” she added.

“We Remember: Songs of Survivors” will air on Tuesday, April 26, at 8:00 pm ET on PBS.

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