COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — There has been a major development for a central Ohio filmmaker and New York author working on a documentary about the Holocaust.
To this point, Mike Edwards and Matthew Rozell have mostly been using pictures to tell the stories of Holocaust survivors and U.S. soldiers in “A Train Near Magdeburg.” It’s about roughly 2,500 Jews being liberated from a Nazi train by U.S. soldiers in April 1945.
“It’s one thing to see photographs and photographs are very powerful, but when you put motion to it and when you see people swarming the soldiers, when you see what was written on the train cars, it just puts it all in a different light,” Edwards, the documentary’s director, said.
The documentary team now has footage that shows some of those moments in motion.
“People that had been starving, people that had been on that train for literally eight days with nothing to eat, no bathroom facilities, no nothing. And these people finally have their freedom,” Edwards said.
Edwards lives in Gahanna. A couple of weeks ago, a museum director in Germany who Edwards and Rozell have worked with was watching television. She saw a short clip and thought it was from the same liberation the documentary is focusing on, Edwards said. She emailed Rozell who told Edwards who was able to find out the video was in the National Archives.
“A team of people found this. It took the woman who saw it, it took Matthew Rozell to identify it, it took me to go digging for it, this has been a huge team effort,” Edwards said.
Rozell had written a book about the liberation and reunifications between survivors and the soldiers who rescued them. Through his work, he came across an iconic photograph of a woman and little girl walking away from the train toward U.S. soldiers. The documentary has been in the works for about eight years.
“I think it will give people a new perspective, I think it will show them what the conditions were actually like and it’s just very moving. The photographs themselves are moving but when you see people moving in real life it just takes it to a whole other level,” Edwards said.
Since the team shared the video online, they’ve heard from six survivors who saw themselves in the footage, according to Edwards.
“Very few times if at all in the Holocaust if you look at trains, the end result is death. This train leads to life and to have footage of that. I don’t know where else it exists,” he said.
Edwards said the plan is for the first of the four-part documentary series to be out this fall.