SFC- Shoah Film Collection

Lilia Kopac

Lilia Kopac (Lithuania)
Title: The Pit of Life and Torment, 2013, 62:00
produced by Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum

Danute Selcinskaja,
the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum
Head of the Department of the Righteous

About the new documentary – ”The Pit of Life and Torment”.

Although me and Lilija Kopac, who is the professional movies director, the author of several TV shows, work in different institutions but we became close partners because of some special persons – the Holocaust witnesses and rescuers of Jews. We persist to save their recollections in any accessible way – the information collected in the museum finds its path to the reader as new books, exhibitions with a lot of filmed illustrations.
Director Lilija Kopac filmed the Holocaust witnesses during about 20 years already, many clips shot by her are exposed in the museum permanent exhibition: “The Rescued Lithuanian Jewish Child Tells about Shoa”. All the information of this exhibition is placed in internet www.rescuedchild.lt (our documentaries also included).
Our first documental movie “I leave my child to you” was created in 2005, another one, “Etude of Hope” – about the war events in Kaunas based on the diary of Hеlene Holzman, Righteous Among the Nations, was produced in 2007.
For our new documentary “The Pit of Life and Torment” we’ve used Moshe Kukliansky’s memoirs as a base of this movie. In the meantime Moshe Kukliansky, living in Israel, is the only alive participant of the story showed in this movie.
The detailed revision of all facts, the clear memory, the extreme sense of justice, the strictness – first of all, for himself and after – for other people surrounding him, – all these features increase the value of Moshe Kukliansky’s memoirs.
Soon after the Nazis Germany occupied Lithuania the Kukliansky family lost their young, careful, loving and beloved mother Zinaida Kukliansky. But Saulius Kukliansky, Veisiejai pharmacist, and three his children – Moshe, Anna and Samuel managed to survive.
The dramatic way of the Kukliansky family survival – escape from the occupied Lithuania, 1.5 years living in Grodno Ghetto, return to Lithuania, and finally –1.5 years living in an excavated pit in Lithuanian forest was full of constant danger and fighting for the life.
All the Veisiejai Jews with many Kukliansky’s relatives among them were killed on the 3-d of November 1941 in Katkiškės.
The Kukliansky family’s history, told by Moshe, reveals the Holocaust scale level in Lithuania and extremely tragic Lithuanian Jews’ destiny – only four members of the large Kukliansky family survived – the Veisejai pharmacist Saulius Kuklianskis and three his children – Moshe, Anna and Samuel. They are the only Jewish family from Veisejai who managed to survive during Holocaust in Lithuania.
This story also reveals the influence of surroundings – meaning, how easy somebody becomes a murderer while the other one takes a risky decision – to rescue the innocent people in spite of warnings to execute.
Moshe Kukliansky was lucky in his way of torment and life he met good-natured people and, thanks to them, the Kukliansky family survived .
The movie was shot in all places mentioned: in Grodno, in spectacular Dzūkija. Many Kukliansky family members – Moshe’s, Anna’s and Samuel’s children and grandchildren – have participated, together with descendants of the rescuers family.
You can find this and other our documentaries in internet, in the virtual exhibition of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum The Rescued Lithuanian Jewish Child Tells about Shoah www.rescuedchild.lt , in the chapter Rescuers of Jews.