Presented by

The Atlantic Selects

Holocaust Survivor Band

May 02, 2019 | 777 videos
Video by Joshua Z Weinstein

Saul Dreier and Reuwen “Ruby” Sosnowicz, both Polish nonagenarian Holocaust survivors, endured dramatically different circumstances during World War II. Dreier survived three concentration camps; in one, a cantor created an impromptu choir in the barracks, and Dreier learned to play drums by banging two spoons together. Sosnowicz spent the war in a barn among cattle, hidden by a Polish farmer. Afterward, he took up the accordion to pass the time in a displaced-persons camp in Germany.


The men didn’t cross paths until retiring in Boca Raton, Florida. In 2015, they formed a klezmer band, based on the musical tradition of their childhoods as Ashkenazim in Eastern Europe. They decided to call themselves the Holocaust Survivor Band. Joshua Z Weinstein’s short documentary Holocaust Survivor Band is an amusing portrait of these men, for whom music has played a cathartic and redemptive role over the years.


For Weinstein, the film takes on a special meaning in light of recent religious hate crimes around the world. “When I first made this film, in 2015, the world felt like a different place,” he told me. “The Holocaust somehow felt like a distant nightmare—something that could never repeat itself.”


Today, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the filmmaker believes that Dreier and Sosnowicz’s story is more important than ever. “All victims’ stories of religious intolerance and hate need to be shared and need to be remembered,” Weinstein said. “We need to remember Christchurch and we need to remember Auschwitz.”

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.