Just when you think you have seen and heard every Holocaust story, a new one comes along that shakes you to the core. The documentary film, Kozalchik Affair, directed by Ron Ninio, is the story of a man, Yackov Kozalchik, whose life is ruined because of hate-mongering against him in pre-state Israel.
Kozalchik was very large and very strong and was chosen at Auschwitz to be the kapo of a prison block. Later, after he survives and comes to Palestine, it comes out that he had been a kapo and there are rumors about some terrible things that he did. This ruins his life.
The film focuses on his son, Itzik Shaked, who discovers late in life that his father had been a kapo at Auschwitz. Now, he embarks on a journey to learn everything he can about his father and the making of the film actually "redeems" his memory. In fact, we meet survivors who relate emotional stories about how they were saved by Yackov.
And we grapple with the ethical issues of that time -- Yackov was a collaborator with the Nazis and he did some terrible things in order to save his own life. But, at the same time, he helped save as many Jews as possible by giving them extra food, by only pretending to beat them, and in one case, actually bribing someone to save a Jewish young woman's life. Who among us can judge what was moral behavior at that time?
Kozalchik Affair (documentary, 53 minutes) is available from Ruth Diskin Films.