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Evidence

By Anthony Ollman
February 2003, Llandrindod Wells
A digital story from Capture Wales

Touching the Passbook

Anthony Ollman finds it difficult to explain his feelings when holding his mother's Nazi passbook. Here Anthony tries to tells us his thoughts when he touches this item.

"It's ghoulish, morbid and compelling. Feeling the passbook in my hands helps make it real, even though I've seen the pictures in books and films. The piles of bodies, the smoke rising out of the ovens, the dogs snarling as the cattle trucks screech to a standstill in wintry, white compounds.

I've heard the truck doors open and seen the silent ashen faces come bursting out. I've dreamed a hundred dreams of running scared through night time forests, my helmeted tormenters with their barking dogs getting closer with every step. I wasn't there but I lived with the aftermath; the legacy tattooed in the soul of those that survived like my mother. Complex and neurotic, it's passed on, encoded in every breath and gesture.

It challenges the most precious aspects of living, willfully casting doubt and creating an obsessive search for meaning and value.

Look at her, she is so beautiful... I can hardly bare to look. It triggers the tightening of the lips, the hands tightly clutching arms, the watering arms. A cloud, the tremor. "Get through it! Make sense." I get so angry with myself when I loose control and end up blubbering and choking back the tears, unable to explain myself.

It stops me from moving on. It stops me from learning. It stops me from understanding how such controlled and premeditated barbarism could ever have happened. Can you understand?

Even though I feel all this history, it still somehow fails to be real... but when I touch this passbook, look at the beautiful face snared and caught in a Nazi web, it becomes a little more real. This is evidence."

Anthony Ollman

Please tell us about yourself.
I'm 44 years old, living with my two children and partner in a rented cottage in Llandrindod Wells. I've lived in Mid Wales for the last 13 years, having moved here from London, not for any rational reason, like a job, but because I fell in love.

What's your story about?
The story is about trying to make sense of the Nazi Holocaust and the impact it has had on my life as a second generation refugee.

Why did you choose to tell this story?
I don't think I really chose the story. It chose me. How my mother managed her life after fleeing from Germany has had such a profound effect on my thinking that I wanted to take this opportunity to explore the relationship. There is so little time in a three minute film to make an impact so I wanted material that created an immediate intensity of focus and meaning. I wanted the film to communicate in a very personal way the struggle between my internal world and the world around me.

How did you find the workshop experience?
The support and technical expertise from the workshop team was fantastic, it certainly felt great seeing my idea develop over the days and having my writing treated with such care and respect. It was surprising and heartwarming getting to know the other participants, sharing our strengths and frailties. Very inspiring!

Your comments

"I think my dad is amazing and I love this film because its powerful and strong." Ruth, Cardiff.

"This movie is great because I am your son. Ha ha!" Joseph.

"Moving and lovely ... a very effective 3 minutes ... made me wish to have known more of the story. How do or did you feel if you have escaped the Holocast? How did you live your life...how is it that we cannot learn from this? As human beings, why are we repeating atrocities?" Natalia, London

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