‘Diamonds in the Snow’ gives new Holocaust perspective

Pamela Morello

Hillel and Shades came together with Communications professor Mira Binford to show her profound Holocaust documentary entitled, “Diamonds in the Snow.”
The documentary is about the Polish city of Bendzin during the Nazi Holocaust.
With a population of 30,000 Jews, Bendzin was considered to be the center of Jewish culture in the area. The city had many schools, a championship soccer team, and many newspapers.
Of the thousands of Jewish children that lived there, only a dozen survived the Holocaust.
The film focuses on Ada Raviv, Shulamit Levin and the films’ producer, director and writer, Mira Reym Binford. These women were three of the dozen children that survived the Nazi’s terror.
Binford thought about making this film for years before she finally made it.
According to an article published in Jewish Bulletin, Binford said, “In a sense, I’ve spent my adult life not making this film…avoiding it. I kept putting it off, probably because it was the hardest thing I could have done – until finally, I couldn’t put it off any longer.”
She also admits, “I turned 50. Survivors were dying, memories were fading. I had begun teaching, and I saw the rise of the Holocaust denial and I saw how remote that history was to my students. I suddenly felt I had run out of excuses.”
Binford was finally ready to face her past experiences and turn the fragments of her childhood memories into something more tangible.
“I thought about my own experience as a possible subject. That was the hardest thing really. Getting my own feelings and my own face onto the screen.”
Binford was only a few years old when the Nazis invaded her home town of Bendzin. When she and her parents could no longer hide, she was given to the Dyrda family, who were Catholic, to be taken care of. Her parents were deported to Auschwitz shortly after.
Binford recalled that when she was given to the Dyrda family, her hair was bleached blond and she was given a cross to wear so that she did not appear to be Jewish. When there was no longer any bleach to dye her hair, she was forced to remain indoors so no one would see her.
Although she felt abandoned by her parents, Dora and Mark Reym, they were reunited after the war, and eventually made their way to America.
The film’s title, “Diamonds in the Snow,” is based on one of Dora Reym’s experiences at Auschwitz. She found a diamond, a symbol of beauty and perfection, lying in the snow of the deadly concentration camp, and traded it for some bread.
This documentary film is a tribute to a community destroyed by the Nazis, to the children who survived the terror, and to those extraordinary people who saved the lives of others while risking their own.
Binford’s film has won many awards including first prize in the National Jewish Video Competition and also won the CINE Golden Eagle Award.