Film Premieres Tonight on Ordeal of Displaced Jews

Film Premieres Tonight on Ordeal of Displaced Jews

By Kathleen Sullivan
Staff Writer

"Displaced: Miracle at St. Ottilien," a new documentary by Prof. John Michalczyk (Fine Arts) about the mistreatment of displaced Jews in a United States military camp at the close of World War II, will have its New England premiere at Boston College tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Devlin 008.

"Displaced," written, directed and produced by Michalczyk, tells the story of US Army privates Edward Herman and Robert Hilliard, who took action against the abusive conditions in which the displaced Jews were kept. The film is based on Hilliard's book, Surviving the Americans: The Continued Struggle of the Jews after Liberation: A Memoir.

Hilliard and Michalczyk will participate in a question-and-answer session after the film, which is free and open to the public.

As shown in the film, conditions for the displaced Jews at St. Ottilien were desperate. There was inadequate food, clothing and medicine, and liberated Jews were dying. To help alleviate the suffering, the two GIs stole food from their own mess and smuggled it into the camp.

Hilliard and Herman also started a letter writing campaign to raise awareness and encourage donations of food and other supplies from Americans back home. The campaign caught the attention of President Harry Truman, who had commissioned an investigation of the displaced persons situation. He ultimately ordered an end to the abuse.

"Even the person on the lowest rung of the ladder can change things that are evil," Hilliard says in the documentary.

Other members of the BC community involved in the film were sound recordist Adj. Asst. Prof. Charles Meyer (Fine Arts), camera operator and editor Paul Goudreau '88 and Prof. Daniel Kirschner (Biology), who provided music. The event is co-sponsored by the Fine Arts Department Film Studies Program, the Jacques Salmanowitz Program, the Communication Department and Hillel of Boston College.


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