Q&A with Julie Kohner, the daughter of Hanna Bloch Kohner, moderated by Aviva Weintraub, Associate Curator of The Jewish Museum and Director of the New York Jewish Film Festival.
One of American television’s most popular, enduring and fondly remembered programs, This Is Your Life presented tributes to hundreds of notable people on NBC from 1952 until 1961. Hosted by the effervescent Ralph Edwards, the series actually began its long life on the NBC radio network on November 9, 1948, moving to CBS for a brief run in the spring of 1950.
When remembering This Is Your Life, most people recall the many Hollywood personalities honored over the years: from Eddie Albert to Ed Wynn and just about everyone in between; in all, 156 actors and actresses; 23 Oscar winners; 15 Emmy winners. But not only movie and television stars received the This Is Your Life treatment. Sports figures, songwriters and musicians, war heroes, country doctors, educators, religious leaders, humanitarians, and plain, ordinary people who had overcome tremendous obstacles found themselves subjects of spontaneous biographical journeys which always featured reunions with long-lost friends, relatives and other key figures in their event-filled lives.
Among those “regular” people were a 95-year-old woman born a slave; a man who survived the Hiroshima atom bomb blast; a woman who had been on the Lusitania; a man who escaped from Devil’s Island; and three exceptional women, all survivors of the Holocaust, which at the time was still a fresh and horrific memory. It is the lives of these courageous women, whose harrowing yet inspiring stories are vividly related on This Is Your Life, that the UCLA Film and Television Archive are proud to present: Hanna Bloch Kohner, the first Holocaust survivor to share her story on national television, who as a young woman survived Auschwitz and was reunited with her pre-war fiancé after her liberation; actress Ilse Stanley, who before her forced exit from Germany, effected the release of over 400 people from Nazi concentration camps; and Dutch housewife Sara Veffer, who with her husband and six children, spent 18 months hiding in a 12-by-12 foot Amsterdam attic.
—Dan Einstein, television archivist, UCLA Film & Television Archive
Preserved in cooperation with the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation from 35mm picture and soundtrack negatives and 16mm kinescopes. Laboratory services by Cinetech, Audio Mechanics and DJ Audio, Inc. Special thanks to: Ralph Edwards Productions; David Osterkamp and Alan Silvers; and Patrick Loughney, Gregory Lukow, Mike Mashon, Rob Stone, Ken Weissman, George Willeman, and members of the Library of Congress Moving Image Section and Film Laboratory staffs.
Visit Voices of the Generations – A non-profit charity devoted to preserving the memory and the personal stories of Holocaust survivors.