EXCLUSIVE: The daughter of a Holocaust survivor is telling her family’s harrowing tale in a new documentary and sounding off on antisemitism around the world amid the Israel-Hamas war.
“UnBroken” is the true story of the Weber family, including Ruth, Gertrude, Senta, Judith, Renee, Alfonse, and Bela. Following their mother’s murder at Auschwitz, the seven siblings escaped capture in Nazi Germany. First-time filmmaker Beth Lane, the daughter of Ginger Lane, who was born Bela Weber and the youngest of the Weber siblings, interviewed her family for their first-hand accounts. What resulted was an international journey as she pored over documents and pieced together their incredible story.
The siblings survived hunger, loneliness, rape, bombings and more. On one leg of their escape, the siblings were hidden in a laundry hut by a kind farmer, before spending two years on their own in war-torn Germany.
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When separated from their father, they had to declare themselves as orphans in order to start new lives in America. But their troubles didn’t end in the U.S. They were separated when they were placed in different foster families and would not be reunited for another 40 years. Footage of their reunion is in the documentary.
The siblings are seen laughing together and enjoying each other’s company. While Lane said she didn’t want to completely speak for her family, she imagined what kind of outlook they now have on life.
“I can tell you that each one of them has always felt very strongly that you have to look ahead and they’re not people who carry the years of trauma or baggage on their backs,” Lane told Fox News Digital. “They don’t wear their hearts on their sleeves. And that’s not to say that people who do that that’s not the right choice for them. But for my family, they have always looked toward the future and persevered and tried to live life through a land of optimism and hope.”
She called the timing of her film’s premiere in Indiana – the day after Hamas launched an attack in Israel – “extraordinary.”
“And so here we had our world premiere at Heartland International Film Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana, on October 8, the day after October 7,” she said. “You can’t plan something like that and can’t even anticipate it on any level. So that’s kind of extraordinary to me and quite terrifying. And I am so grateful that we have this story to tell and put out there as a way to inspire other people to want to stand up and not be silent.”
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In recent weeks, college campuses have been hotbeds for antisemitism, as anti-Israel protests have popped up in major cities across the country. Lane somberly spoke of the rampant antisemitism that has become apparent across the U.S. throughout the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“I don’t think antisemitism is on the rise,” she said. “I think antisemitism is quite firmly planted here and we need to change the narrative. It’s not rising. It’s here. So, I feel very strongly that it is incumbent upon every citizen to not be silent. Silence to me is complicity. We must speak out. We must not allow the antisemitism to continue.”
Lane established The Weber Family Arts Foundation in March for the purpose of combating antisemitism and hate by driving awareness, engagement, and activism through the arts. Across a variety of creative mediums, the foundation supports artists in developing and producing meaningful work that inspires critical thought, compassion, and empathy.
“The foundation was established to combat antisemitism, bigotry and hate through the arts by telling stories of hope,” Lane explained. “And the first project is my film, ‘UnBroken.’ We hope to make a profit with the distribution of the film. And when we do have a profit, all the proceeds will go to the foundation so that we can give seed money to other artists who want to tell stories to combat antisemitism, bigotry and hatred, the arts. And so they can be artists or painters or dancers or filmmakers or playwrights and things like that, because we need these stories of hope.”
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Lane said she was also encouraged by the massive pro-Israel rally that took place in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. Some of the day’s high-profile speakers included Lane’s friend Tovah Feldshuh and former “Will & Grace” actress Debra Messing, who helped present “UnBroken” at its New York premiere.
“All of the speeches were just undeniably in support of Israel,” Lane said. “And I agree with them 100%. Of course, I absolutely do not want bloodshed to befall innocent civilians, especially Palestinians. However, there are hostages right now that are living underground. I hope they’re living, but they are underground and they are prisoners. And that is completely and entirely unacceptable. And the world cannot stop and move on until those hostages are released.”
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Lane pushed for “extreme measures” against Hamas, arguing that, sometimes, that’s what it takes to defeat the enemy. She shared an anecdote to prove that her family knows this firsthand.
“In the last three months of World War II, the Allies that were defeating the Nazis absolutely obliterated the city of Berlin. My mother and her siblings, they are survivors of being buried under their own building under a pile of rubble… But extreme measures have to be taken when terrorism is trying to take over the world. And Hamas is absolutely a terrorist organization, and they must be stopped.”