A brief background to Janine’s Story
Janine was born in Lvov, in Poland. Her testimony describes her life under Nazi occupation, first within the appalling conditions of the Nazi-enforced Jewish ghetto and then as a hidden Jewish child, experiencing the unexpected kindness, and the unbearable cruelty, of strangers.
Janine’s Story provides a succinct but comprehensive explanation of the rise of Nazism in the 1930s and the concomitant persecution of Europe’s Jews. Using survivor testimony and student actor participation, the film illustrates the Nazis’ use of draconian and racist laws (the Nuremburg Race Laws), and the ruthless use of antisemitic propaganda. Original archive film footage is used throughout. Key events, such as the pogrom of Kristallnacht and the progress of the War, as country after country fell to the Nazis, are explained and illustrated. The industrialisation of murder via the Nazis’ adoption of the Final Solution in 1942 is similarly explained and illustrated via archive film footage. Archive film footage and recounted survivor testimony are also used to convey the horrors of the death camps.
Janine’s testimony is woven through the film. Her story bears witness to the murder of Jews via shootings, and via the extreme deprivation of ghetto life. Through her testimony, the fear, loss, and isolation of hidden Jewish children, and the roles of collaborators, sympathisers and rescuers are all conveyed.
Viewers of Janine’s Story will gain a clear understanding of the Holocaust and its links with WW2. Through Janine’s words, we are left too with a clear message of the importance of tolerance and understanding.
Following the German–Soviet non-aggression pact, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany on 1 September 1939 and by the Soviet Union on 17 September. The campaigns ended in early October with Germany and the Soviet Union dividing and annexing the whole of Poland. Lvov fell under Russian occupation until the summer of 1941 when Germany advanced eastwards and the whole of Poland became occupied by Germany, which proceeded to advance its racial and genocidal policies across Poland. The Jews were singled out by the Germans for a quick and total annihilation and about 90 percent of Polish Jews (close to three million people) were murdered as part of the Holocaust. Jews, Poles, Romani people and prisoners of many other ethnicities were killed en masse at Nazi extermination camps, such as Auschwitz, Treblinka and Sobibór. Under the two occupations, Polish citizens suffered enormous human and material losses. About 5.6 million Polish citizens died as a result of the German occupation and about 150,000 died as a result of the Soviet occupation. Following the murder of an estimated 2 million ethnic Poles, the Germans had future plans to turn the remaining majority of Poles into slave labour and annihilate those perceived as “undesirable“.