Documentary feature film, Back to Berlin, follows the journey of eleven motorcyclists as they travel across nine countries and 4,500km to take the Maccabiah torch from Israel to Olympiastadion in Berlin.
This documentary charting the pilgrimage by road of eleven Jewish bikers to open the 2015 Maccabiah Games takes some digestion. Overloaded with stock footage, historical data and family tragedy, Back To Berlin is as hard hitting as it is awe inspiring. Holocaust documentaries in the main make for unpleasant viewing, but irrespective of approach they are all important. However, there is an overwhelming message of hope which rides in tandem with the mass genocide and Nazi overtones which this subject matter discusses.
Established for Jewish and Israeli athletes to compete at an international level, The Maccabiah Games were first held in 1932 outside Tel Aviv. Back To Berlin re-enacts the journey taken by those bikers to Germany, tracing a path through Jewish history introducing descendants along the way trying to understand their place in all this.
Passing through Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland before moving into Germany, director Catherine Lurie opens our eyes to past events and those that survived to remember. To realise that the Nazis were not singlehandedly responsible for their Final Solution is not common knowledge. Such a cold blooded and callous treatment of Jews by other Eastern bloc countries is something neither widely advertised nor discussed within contemporary culture. However, what Back To Berlin sparks off repeatedly is this need to bring such knowledge out into the open so countries are able to move on.
One thing which confounds some when talking about this period in history is the sheer inhumanity on display. Across the documentary, numbers total upwards of three million souls either burned, butchered or killed in transit to either concentration camps, death camps or munitions factories. Such persecution at that time was unprecedented and has left an indelible stain on future generations which will not wash off easily. Yet, to call it anything other than educationally essential for the next generation is selling it short. School trips abroad should be including these places as people still need educating. In a society where everything is instantaneous and everyone so technologically isolated, this documentary and others like it should be mandatory.
This may not be a popular opinion and there will be those who think people should be insulated against such information, but they would be wrong and for more reasons than just blissful ignorance.
Written by Martin Carr
Directed by: Catherine Lurie
Written by: Catherine Lurie
Starring: Yoran Maron, Dan Marom, Joseph Gottdenker
Back to Berlin is released in UK cinemas on November 23