Cannes
Short Film Corner 2022 
 
Interview

Eva Brettler
A Prayer For My Mother: The Eva Brettler Story
righteousconversations.org 
May 27, 2022

A Prayer For My Mother: The Eva Brettler Story is an animated film that chronicles the extraordinary saga of Holocaust survivor Eva Brettler – a child facing brutality and profound loss who finds sustenance in faith and her own dreams for the future. From the loss of her parents to a forced death march across Europe, young Eva survives Ravensbruck and Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camps, the destruction of her family, and the near destruction of European Jewry to emerge, with a tender heart and faith intact, crediting the goodness and decency of helpers and caretakers she encountered along the way.

The Righteous Conversations Project is a collaboration of Holocaust survivors and teens founded in Los Angeles in 2011 to meet the precious moment of intersection between the last living witnesses to the Holocaust, and the young generation to whom they will hand their living memories, and the lessons they have to teach us for enduring stewardship.

Hello Mrs Brettler, thank you for talking to me, how have you been keeping after everything that’s been happening?

Thank you for asking and hope that you are feeling better, full and speedy healed.  Very touching to connect with the community and Samara's guidance with the students and myself has brought back powerful and meaningful memories, some long hidden within.

Your short film A Prayer For My Mother: The Eva Brettler Story is going to be part of the Cannes Short Film Corner and the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase. What does it mean to you to be able to share this powerful and touching tribute to your mother?

I am very touched and honoured. I am very grateful for the students' compassionate film-making and the efforts of all those who helped.

How did you get introduced to Samara Hutman at The Righteous Conversations Project and what inspired you to want to tell your story in this unique way?

I met Samara in 2007 via Marie Kaufman (of blessed memory), herself a child-Survivor. Marie and I shared a remembrance panel at Harvard-Westlake, an event emceed by Michael Berenbaum.   I was the middle child, age wise between Marie and Helen Freeman.  The students' response, earnest and inquisitive, prompted my continued involvement.

The animation captures not only the horror and sadness of your experience but also your youthful innocence, what was your fondest memory growing up before the war?

Remembering blessed time with my extended family, connecting with my Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles.

"Let in one's daily life compassion serve as a principle guide."

How important is it for todays youth to hear firsthand accounts from Holocaust Survivors and what lessons can they learn from your experience?

To share my story and express the difficulties seems to help the students face their own challenges. I ask them to tangibly express their love for their family, appreciate and develop their educational opportunities which no one can take from them, and to serve as my future ambassadors in standing for good. Let in one's daily life compassion serve as a principle guide.

After the war you moved back to Hungary and after everything you had been through how important was it for you to take the Revolution for Equality?

I recuperated from Typhus immediately after the war in a Bergen-Belsen field hospital established by the liberating British army, and then stayed in an Swedish orphanage, where the amazing Survivor Luba helped the children. Self-esteem was an important emphasis encouraged in the orphanage. By the time I returned to Hungary almost two years later, my father had remarried, I no longer spoke Hungarian, and I had a new mother who also was a Survivor, and a baby brother.

Finally, what would you like audiences to take away from A Prayer For My Mother: The Eva Brettler Story

The little child in me could only survive through the heroic compassion of strangers, women who bravely stood up to protect a small girl. I give heartfelt thanks for the Righteous Conversation Project, Samara Hutman, and my grandson Charlie Weiner's heartfelt musical score. My late husband Marten Brettler, my dear family, my children Yisrael, Jeffrey, Linda, and Sandra, and my grandchildren, and my cherished circle of  friends through their love and blessings, have encouraged and nurtured my sharing. Since I was formally educated, the U.S.A. permitted and accepted my immigrant status; and then professionally, as a social-worker at Jewish Family Services, I have been privileged to help and serve our extended community.  

 

May HaShem always safeguard our earnest strivings.