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A Shtetl's Story 1920 - 1945

A Film by Tierza Amizur-Berman



Horodok Elementary School Horodok Wedding

This is the story of vibrant life in an Eastern European Jewish village, before WWII, told by partisan-survivors, who moved to Israel after the war.

Horodok was in Poland prior to 1939; then in Russia; invaded by the Nazi's in 1941; and included into Belarus after the war. Horodok is located north of Minsk in the triangle between Rakov, Radishkovitz and Moladechna.

The film covers the shtetl's community & religious life; the shtetl economy; Jewish and secular education; the flourishing Zionist youth movements and political parties; the background story of an early 1930's film of the shtetl; Russian and Nazi occupation; the creation of the Ghetto and Nazi slaughter; Horodok partisans and the end-of-the-war revenge.

The film includes:

          Interviews with former residents of Horodok, living in Israel, including their WWII partisan activity.

          Photographs of pre-war Horodok and Horodok partisans.

          Rare footage from 1930's silent movie of the shtetl (filmed by David Shapira of the USA).

          Film clips of Horodok in the 1990's.

The film's subject sequence is:

Introduction & Description of the Shtetl

Relations with Christian neighbours

The Shtetl economy


Jewish traditions

David Shapira's visit

Political movements & Zionist youth groups

The dream of Eretz Israel

The Russian annexation - 1939

The Nazi invasion - 1941

The Ghetto and the slaughter

Saving the youth and partisans' activities


In Memory

This film was made possible with the encouragement and funding by members of the Horodok Society in Israel, their families in Israel & the USA, and "Joint" Israel.


The Filmmaker and the Story of the Film's origins.

Tierza Amizur-Berman

This documentary began as a search to find out what Tierza's mother never spoke about her village in Poland, her family and what happened during the war. 

Tierza's mother, Sarah, the youngest in her family, arrived in Israel in 1936 at the age of sixteen to join her two eldest brothers.  They left behind their mother, two brothers, two sisters, their spouses and children, all of whom perished at the hands of the Nazis.  

Tierza's search began after again seeing a 1930's silent film on her mother's village at a course on the Holocaust, given by the Tel Aviv Diaspora Museum (Beit Hatefusoth).  She had seen this film, as a child, at the annual commemorative ceremony for the village's Holocaust victims that she attended with her mother.  She knew that there was footage of her family in the film.

To learn more about the village, she visited a former villager living in Israel.  During that visit, a second ex-villager arrived and encouraged her to continue to record the stories of as many of the survivors as she could. 

After the first few interviews she realized that a story was emerging of the vibrant life of a typical Eastern European shtetl and its terrible demise.  She felt a growing inner obligation and commitment to produce a documentary, commemorating shtetl life, for Holocaust education.  All her interviewees had record their personal stories for Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation.  Tierza asked them instead to concentrate on telling her about life in the village, so that she could reconstruct the shtetl's story.  And so she continued, interviewing, in all, twelve ex-villagers.

From her interviewees' memories emerged the story of the shtetl's economy, its traditions and education; communal solidarity with hardship; feverish pro-Zionist activity; the Nazi slaughter; survival in forced labor gangs and as partisans.  She gathered old photographs, poetry, songs and written accounts.  One of the interviewees gave Tierza the original reels of the old movie, some of which is incorporated into the documentary.  [The reels are now preserved in the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the content has been digitized.]  She captured these memories at the last moment, as most of the interviewees have since passed on. 

Members of Horodok Society in Israel and their USA families funded the professional editing and English sub-titling to convert 24 hours of interviews into this compelling documentary.  Russian subtitling was funded by the Israel "Joint."  They will be using this film for communal and educational activities in the ex-Soviet countries.

The film is dedicated to the memory of the Horodok villagers slaughtered by the Nazis and also to those who died while fighting with the partisans.

Tierza is a graduate of Tel Aviv University in Jewish and General Philosophy.  She trained as a Hebrew teacher and specialized in intensive Hebrew teaching for new immigrants.  She taught Hebrew at George Washington University, in Washington DC, from 1993 to 1998.  She visited Horodok with her husband and son in 1997.

You can read more about the film by visiting .


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