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August 29, 2014 | Film: The Shadows from my Past

  • Quad Cinema 34 W 13th St New York City, NY, 10011 United States (map)


SHADOWS FROM MY PAST is a documentary film that deals with the mixed emotions of Gita Kaufman, an American Jewish woman upon her return to Vienna, the city she was forced to flee as a child in 1940. While searching for the missing parts of her own past she also seeks answers to questions of moral ambiguity, individual as opposed to collective guilt, and to what degree today's generation is responsible for the sins of their fathers and grandfathers. 

SHADOWS FROM MY PAST is a documentary videographed in Austria, Germany, France and the United States. It deals with the mixed emotions of Gita Kaufman, an American Jewish woman upon her return to Vienna, Austria, the city she was forced to flee as a child in February of 1940. She escaped the onset of the Holocaust with her mother, father and two brothers on the very day that they were to be deported to Dachau. Many others in her family were not so fortunate, and died in the Shoah.

The film opens with Gita Kaufman receiving a grant from the Bruno Kreisky Foundation for
Outstanding Achievement in the Area of Human Rights and she and husband Curt Kaufman are invited to speak at the University of Vienna. Reluctant at first to return to the place of so much tragedy for her family, she finally decides to accept the invitation. While there Gita looks for her past and for the face of contemporary Austria. Asking questions of herself and of the people she meets, she tries to determine if the new Austria is truly different from the old – has it come to terms with its past – or is it just a new mask on an old face?

Austria is at the European crossroads between East and West and is an important cultural center. As such it is and was a microcosm of the whole of Europe. It was also a willing participant in the Holocaust.

Austria’s recent history is part of Gita’s history. As she searches for the missing parts to her own past therefore, she also seeks answers to questions of moral ambiguity, individual as opposed to collective guilt and to what degree today's generation is responsible for the sins of their fathers and grandfathers. SHADOWS FROM MY PAST is a warning to the people of today. Using digital cameras and technology, Curt and Gita Kaufman produced and shot the documentary on location in Austria, Germany, New Jersey, Connecticut, Paris, Poland and New York.

SHADOWS FROM MY PAST is based on an audio visual presentation authored by the Kaufmans. SHADOWS was originally based on excerpts of archival letters, documents and photographs dating to the period of 1939-1941 that were collected from Gita Kaufman's family, many of whom were murdered in the Shoah. These documents are from witnesses of the Holocaust, and will be excerpted in the documentary. The film was presented by the Kaufmans in the ZIIS-Seminarraum of the Center for International and Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Vienna.

SHADOWS OF MY PAST underlines the need for preservation of the memory of the Holocaust and the importance of tolerance education.

This film was shown at the Austrian Cultural Forum in 2013 and is highly recommended:

For further information on screening dates please visit: