In March, Chicago-area audiences can view a rare work-in-progress screening of Rumbula's Echo, a documentary detailing the largely unknown World War II massacre of 25,000 Latvian and German Jews. Rumbula's Echo is the first film focused on two days of firing squad executions that took place in 1941 at Rumbula Forest in Riga, Latvia.
On March 23 (11 a.m., Chicago Cultural Center's Claudia Cassidy Theater), local audiences can view a work-in-progress screening of a documentary detailing the largely unknown World War II massacre of 25,000 Latvian and German Jews.
Rumbula's Echo is the first film focused on two days of firing squad executions that took place in 1941 at Rumbula Forest in Riga, Latvia, according to director Mitchell Lieber.
Lieber, a Chicago businessman and documentarian, learned about the incident 15 years ago while researching his family's genealogy. He was saddened to discover that at least three of his relatives were among those killed at Rumbula Forest.
"Few people know that an estimated 1.5 million people, the majority of whom were Jews, were executed by S.S. firing squads during World War II. This took place largely before the death camps and gassings, and mostly in Soviet territory," he says.
Lieber, who has a broadcasting background, gathered a team of TV and documentary veterans, and five Holocaust historians to create the documentary. The result is a historical piece, combining rare escapee and survivor interviews with archival footage and photos gathered from around the world.
"Amid the terror and death are seven uplifting stories of survival, rescue and reunion," he says. Three survivors living in the Chicago area were interviewed for the project, including Sia Hertsberg of Glenview, a key character in the film, who narrowly escaped death at Rumbula. She and three other Holocaust survivors will be honored March 20 by the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.
"Four survivors have passed away since we began this project, and we feel compelled to make their stories known as quickly as possible," adds Lieber.
The screening will be followed by a question and answer session with Lieber and Hertsberg. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Tickets are required and can be ordered online at http://tinyurl.com/jwckurx.
Chicago Filmmakers/Luminescence Media Group is a recipient of the first round of Breakthrough Fund mini-grants from the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago for supplementary filming of the Chicago-based Holocaust documentary, "Rumbula's Echo."
For more information, visit www.RumbulasEcho.org.