Your chance to help tell a Holocaust survivor's powerful story

Anita Dittman speaks about her life in one of Nazi Germany's concentration camps. She grew up in Germany and was almost 6 years old when Hitler came to power.

Anita Dittman speaks about her life in one of Nazi Germany’s concentration camps. She grew up in Germany and was almost 6 years old when Hitler came to power.

By George Escobar

Anita Dittman is the only person I’ve ever met who survived the Holocaust. She was barely 18 when she escaped her second Nazi prison camp in 1945.

Abandoned as a child by her Aryan father eight years earlier, Anita was determined to reunite with her Jewish mother held at a death camp 200 miles away in Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia.

Anita Dittman as a child growing up in Germany, the daughter of a Jewish mother and German father. Her father abandoned the family as the Nazi came to power.

Anita Dittman as a child growing up in Germany, the daughter of a Jewish mother and German father. Her father abandoned the family as the Nazis came to power.

By the time I came to know Anita in 2014, she had just turned 87. I was interviewing her for a documentary about her life, based on the book “Trapped in Hitler’s Hell: A Young Jewish Girl Discovers the Messiah’s Faithfulness in the Midst of the Holocaust,”which she had co-written with Jan Markell nearly 20 years earlier.

I didn’t expect to become a close friend of Anita’s following that meeting. Or fall in love with her story.

“Trapped in Hitler’s Hell” tells the story of Anita Dittman, a Jewish woman who survived 12 years under Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime.

Here’s your chance to help bring Holocaust survivor Anita Dittman’s incredible and inspiring story from script to screen! Please donate just $5 or $10 to support this motion-picture project at WND’s GoFundMe page

The awful events leading to the rise of Nazism are at first too overwhelming for young Anita to fathom. But like so many of her generation, childhood’s end comes quickly and decisively.

Upon the abandonment of her fearful Aryan father, Anita begins experiencing a subtle awakening of her trust in God. That trust, however, is severely tested when the Nazis finally imprison her Jewish mother first, and then Anita. Orphaned, alone, and under the yoke of forced labor, Anita’s struggle to survive becomes almost unbearable. Only the trace of hope found in her faith that someday she will be reunited with her mother sustains her.

By the conclusion of World War II, Anita had nearly exhausted her reserve of courage and compassion. In our journey with Anita, she will have successfully drawn us personally through an age of darkness. Nonetheless, her resilience and liberating faith will shine like a beam of light through which we can find God’s glory, forgiveness and love.

Anita Dittman

Anita Dittman

Anita and Jan Markell had long sought to make Anita’s heroic life journey into a movie. Three years ago, WND CEO Joseph Farah optioned their book. After hiring me as vice president of WND Films, Joseph commissioned me to write the movie screenplay. That same year, “Alone Yet Not Alone,” which I had co-written and co-directed, had just received an Academy Award (Oscar) nomination for Best Original Song. I was stunned.

I was further stunned and humbled by this new responsibility. This movie is important because the Holocaust shouldn’t be just another historical chapter or footnote we learn in school. When it becomes only about dates and places and times and events, we lose an important measure of our humanity. For as long as we can, we must seek to connect with the souls of persons who survived the Holocaust. These are precious people who lost everything and everyone.

Today, in 2017, there are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors who are still with us. Rarer still are survivors who have become teachers of the Holocaust. Anita is among them. And we are her students.

The subject matter of the Holocaust is a delicate topic. The remnants of Adolf Hitler’s madness and the collective hatred of Jews continue to linger. Ethnic-cleaning policies that caused the annihilation of people groups include not just the Jews, but Armenians, Kurds, Croatians, Laotians, Cambodians, Nigerians and more in just the past hundred years. These tragedies remain a deep stain upon our collective soul.

Unless we examine “humanity’s sins” in detail, exposing the cold-hearted judgments leading up to mass murder, we shall be bound to repeat it. Unless we also examine the “defiance of a single individual” to oppose evil, to overcome great odds, we shall be less inspired to imitate the power of opposition.

To remember and to inspire. That is my vision for this film. That is our charge at WND Films. This is how we must exercise the power of cinema.

Anita Dittman (right) her mother, Hilde, and sister, Hella, faced violence and oppression during the Holocaust in the late 1930s and '40s.

Anita Dittman (right) her mother, Hilde, and sister, Hella, faced violence and oppression during the Holocaust in the late 1930s and ’40s.

Our challenge will be to excel cinematically beyond anything we’ve ever done before. And if we dedicate ourselves to this vision, performing to our utmost abilities, then we can impart future students, teachers and audiences with something of value. A core value that may shed light whenever the future appears dark or dim.

What is that core value? Namely this:

“That one person, making the choice to forgive, can bring goodness, hope, and healing.”

The focus of Anita’s story is not to portray the horrors found in extermination camps. Instead, we will be focusing on seemingly more minor events. We will be experiencing the Holocaust from the viewpoint of a select few characters, predominantly seen through Anita’s point of view.

Through her eyes, we will be challenged not only by ghastly acts of cruelty and abandonment, but by an equal measure of kindness and compassion. As we portray the staggering difficulties of her life story, we must endeavor to find those virtues within ourselves that are equally bright and grim. If we can be truthful in the telling, then we can more successfully transfer those resonant virtues on the screen for our audience.

Furthermore, Anita’s story must not be a movie that audiences can witness impassively. When Anita comes to the realization that “everyone has a fear that can break them,” we too will be challenged with what to do when that “unfathomable fear overtakes us.”

At that moment, I hope audiences will be propelled into agitation and concern. Anita’s story must be a heartbreaking and remarkable account of a young woman’s triumph over a dystopian nightmare. This is not the stuff of fiction like “Hunger Games” or “Divergent.” This is real life.

It is why we need the support of WND readers. They understand the importance of re-telling Anita’s story.

I ask each reader to donate just $5 to $10 (the price of a fancy Starbucks drink) to the to the GoFundMe campaign for this movie. Your support is critical to enable us to move forward. Be the person who makes a difference.

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George Escobar is vice president of WND Films.

Your chance to help tell a Holocaust survivor's powerful story
Source: WND