We Shall Not Die Now is an upcoming documentary film that chronicles the Holocaust, when, between 1939 and 1945, over six million Jews and eleven million others were systematically murdered by the Nazi regime.
Seventy-five years after the conclusion of the war, the film explores not only the horrific human tragedy and what we can learn from it, but also the resilience of those that rebuilt their lives in spite of the unimaginable.
Told by the survivors and liberators who experienced it first hand, We Shall Not Die Now is an exploration into the darkest and brightest sides of the human spirit.
The film will be having it’s world premiere at the Heartland International Film Festival on October 12th and will be available worldwide via Amazon Video, iTunes, and Google Play on December 5th.
“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”
Elie Wiesel | survivor of auschwitz & nobel peace prize recipient
History of the Project
We Shall Not Die Now was filmed in over a dozen states in the US and throughout Poland at all of the various historical landmarks and death camps. The filmmaker, Ashton Gleckman, personally filmed over 25 interviews with survivors, liberators, scholars, and more. Ashton spent over a decade studying the Holocaust before making the film. He also spent a great deal of time researching at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and speaking to scholars in preparation for filming.
Those interviewed include the world’s preeminent scholar of the Holocaust, Dr. Michael Berenbaum (Director, Sigi Ziering Institute), Cantor Moshe Taube (#22 on Schindler’s List), Jack Betteil (survivor of six concentration camps), Auschwitz survivors Frank Grunwald and Ben Lesser, Ben Ferencz (the last living prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials), and Ben Cooper (one of the last living liberators of the Nazi concentration camps).
The film incorporates a collection of archival footage, photographs, interviews, and footage captured during the making of Claude Lanzmann’s iconic documentary, SHOAH, which was filmed over the span of eleven years in the 1970s and 1980s.
The goal of the film is to create a platform for the interviewees to share their stories and lessons of peace, tolerance, respect, and the dangers of hate. Messages that are relevant now and will continue to be for generations to follow.
Majdanek Concentration Camp
Treblinka Death Camp
Jewish Yellow Star of David
Majdanek Concentration Camp
Oskar Schindler's Factory
Chelmno Death Camp
Survivor Frank Grunwald
Q: Is there a backstory to the title?
A: In 1952, a notebook was found near the Auschwitz gas chambers. It contained entries written by an unknown prisoner between 1943-1944. One entry recounted the story of a young Polish woman who gave an impassioned speech in the gas chamber shortly before she, and hundreds of others, were killed. The women said, “Tell our brothers, our nation, that we went to meet our death in full consciousness and with pride. The history of our nation shall immortalize us, our initiative and our spirit are alive and flourishing. We Shall Not Die Now.”
Q: When will the film be available?
A: December 5th.
Q: Where will I be able to watch the film?
A: The film will be released via Amazon Video, iTunes, and Google Play.
Q: There’s so many Holocaust documentaries out there. What makes this different?
A: Told exclusively by the testimonies of survivors, liberators, scholars, prosecutors, and perpetrators - We Shall Not Die Now brings together a wide range of varying perspectives that unite to tell one story. Whether it’s Moshe Taube who survived Schindler’s List, Jack Betteil who survived six concentration camps, or Ernie Lorch who interviewed Nazi war criminals - the film also features the words and messages of many of those who haven’t yet had the chance to share their stories on film.
We Shall Not Die Now also includes a collection of new footage filmed in Poland at locations rarely spoke about or featured. This includes the sites of the Treblinka, Belzec, and Chelmno death camps, where collectively over two million people were killed in the Holocaust. Other locations include the cities of Krakow, Lublin, Warsaw, and Lodz, as well as concentration camps like Auschwitz and Plaszow. This all, in an effort to elevate the storytelling by transporting viewers to the real places where these events actually occurred.
Q: What was the process of research for the film?
A: Whether it was spending time in the archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, reading and studying countless testimonies and books, or speaking to scholars and survivors prior to filming - the documentary is a cumulation of over a decade of research and preparation.
Q: What other films or books most significantly inspired the project?
A: Films: Claude Lanzmann’s “Shoah,” Laszlo Neme’s “Son of Saul,” Steve Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List", Edward Zwick’s “Defiance,” Mark Herman’s “Boy in the Striped Pajamas.” Books: Filip Muller’s “Eyewitness Auschwitz,” Shlomo Venezia’s “Inside the Gas Chambers,” William L. Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” Thomas Blatt’s “From the Ashes of Sobibor,” and Chil Rajchman’s “The Last Jew of Treblinka.”
Q: What inspired the project?
A: “Ever since I was seven-years-old and first visited the Anne Frank Exhibition which had just been installed at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, the subject has been lingering in my mind over the past twelve years. In addition, my great uncle was one of the liberators of Buchenwald, so it’s always been a strong part of who I am. Then… I saw Claude Lanzmann’s documentary, SHOAH. There was something about how quiet, solemn, and meditative it was. It haunted me for weeks and still does to this day. It really opened my eyes to whats possible and set me out on the journey of making the film.” - Ashton Gleckman (Director)