My Mother, the Nazi Midwife and Me by Gina Roitman

Gina Roitman: Photo by Lynn Hatwin
We've all heard stories from our mothers, stories that made us feel uncomfortable or that we rolled our eyes at. As young girls, the tales were often too far removed from our own experiences to have any meaning.

It's usually much later in life when these stories carry much more significance for us. These stories tell us who we are and add a few more missing pieces to our own identity puzzle.

Writer Gina Roitman has just released a chilling documentary featuring some incredible personal discoveries. She has spent the last eight years filming her investigation into a tale that her mother began telling her when she was very young.

Gina Roitman grew up in Montreal, but was born in Germany in the years following the Second World War. Her parents were Holocaust survivors whose family members had all perished in concentration camps. Roitman's mother often told her young daughter stories of the atrocities of Nazi Germany. But young Gina was living in a different country at a different time, and as can be expected, she wasn't all that interested in her mother's stories. She also refused to believe that all Germans could be as horrible as her mother said, something that infuriated her mother.

Around the world, many people believe that after World War II ended, the Nazis suddenly disappeared. But as we see in the documentary, this was not the case.

Roitman's parents met at an overpopulated Displaced Persons camp outside Passau, Germany, in the US military zone. When Roitman's mother became pregnant, she insisted that her daughter be born at a birthing centre, and not in the camp. Too many Jewish babies were inexplicably dying there; a murderer was ostensibly afoot. The mother said that she had saved Gina's life.

For Roitman, this was just one of her mother's paranoid stories. Then, many years after her mother had died, Roitman discovered the work of Anna Rosmus, a German historian who had investigated the treatment of Jews in Passau in the 20th century. It was then that Roitman heard the story again of the mysterious deaths of Jewish babies at the Displaced Persons camp at Pocking-Waldstadt where her parents had lived.

In My Mother, the Nazi Midwife and Me, a one-hour documentary, Gina Roitman returns to Passau for the first time in her life to meet Anna Rosmus, investigate her mother's claims and ultimately discover some important parts of her own identity. This is a moving documentary that should not be missed. The footage and stories are haunting.

To see a trailer of the film click here.

My Mother, the Nazi Midwife and Me will be showing on Saturday, May 18 on the CBC Documentary Channel. 

Other documentaries:
5 Broken Cameras by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
Detropia by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
Finding Dawn by Christine Welch
The Fruit Hunters by Yung Chang


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1 comments:

John Leighton | May 18, 2013 at 3:05 PM

your mother and I heard many of those stories when we were posted to Germany in 1960 to 1963. The place where we lived in Hemer 26 Park str. overlooked a DP resettlement camp post war and a Russian POW camp during the war.

Frau Schneider told us the tale of a young girl being shot by the SS for daring to throw some bread over the prison camp fence and how the girl's family was disappeared the same day.

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