Hidden in Silence (1996)
Director: Richard A. Colla.
Starring: Kellie Martin (Fusia Podgorska), Tom Radcliffe (Max Diamant), Marc Warren (Lubic), Gemma Coughlan, Marta Hrachovinová, Luke de Lacey (Isaac Diamant), David Nykl (Henek), Anna Geislerová (Danuta), Jan Nemejovský (Mr. Diamant), Jakub Wehrenberg (Siunek), Andrew Joseph, Vladimir Pospísil, Joss Ackland (German factory manager), Marion Ross (Mrs. Diamant), Petr Meissel.
Made for TV movie.
a Polish teenage girl risks death by providing refuge for Jewish people
Przemysl, Poland. June 22, 1941. A city divided. Occupied by Germany on the far side of the river and Russia on this side.
Fusia Podgorskais a pretty young woman who works in a pastry shop. A Russian soldier buys some cookies and then gives them to Fusia. She works for Mrs. Diamant who runs the shop. Mrs. Diamant is so pleased with her that she gives the rest of the day off to Fusia, who runs through the town with her friend. The friends will have a great day together. They hear the pop of a flair and see the flair in the sky, and they wonder what is this all about. Now shells start falling on the town. A Russian soldier tells the girls to get off the street: "It's the Germans." Fusia and her friend start running, but soon they split and each goes their own way. A worker in the pastry shop named Isaac Diamant grabs Fusia's hand and tells her to come with him. He takes her to his home. Mrs. Diamant is upset because two of her boys are still not home. She cries because she thinks maybe the Germans have killed them.
The Diamants are a close-knit
Jewish family. Because of this, they are especially worried about the
Germans taking of the town. Fusia is a Christian, so she volunteers to go
out on the streets an assess the situation. In the streets she sees dead
Russian soldiers and dead civilians. The
Germans come with a loud-speaker and say that they wish the citizens of the town no harm. The citizens are now citizens of the Third Reich. A Polish woman walking her dog in the streets is shot and killed.
When Fusia returns, she sees that the two missing Diamant boys have arrived safely at home. They tell their tale of horrors about getting back home. Fusia reports that the Germans have taken over the city and have cleared the streets. She then asks Max Diamant what are the chances of her getting back to her mother's farm? Max tells her she will never get through to her mother. The Germans are killing anyone who tries to run.
The Germans start blocking off areas using barbed wire. They are setting up a ghetto area. The Diamant family gets an order that they must come to the ghetto by 6 a.m.
Isaac and Fusia promise each other that they will be wed one day. They kiss.
Fusia wants to go to the ghetto with the family, but Mrs. Diamant says that the Germans, with their lists of every Jewish person in the town, will not let Fusia go into the ghetto. The older woman says that Fusia can live right here in this apartment. They are turning the apartment over to her. Everything now has been signed over to Fusia. Fusia promises that she will take good care of their apartment.
Fusia walks with Isaac and the family, but the guard at the gate pushes Fusia away from the gate.
Two months later. Isaac has to work on the maintenance of the roads and streets with a group of men. Fusia is able to exchange messages with Isaac. Isaac now asks her if she can get food into them. He tells her the date, time and place.
A local boy named Lubic calls over to Fusia. They know each other. She asks him where can she pawn a gold watch. He tells her about a guy and where he usually is. She is to go to him. Fusia sells the watch for German marks. He then tells her to get out of here quickly. With the money she buys produce from the farms in the area. She then passes the food to Isaac.
Fusia learns that they are starting to move people out of the ghetto. Isaac has been moved to a work camp.
Fusia goes to the work camp. She bribes the main guard with pastry goods for three minutes with Isaac. She sees an exhausted Isaac who wants desperately to escape from the work camp. Fusia says tonight he must sneak away from his returning detail and hook up with Fusia by the edge of the nearby woods. Fusia waits for Isaac to return, but she finds him past out with a bloody mouth on the back of a horse drawn work wagon. Fusia has to stifle her scream in order not to be caught herself.
Fusia tries to get to see her mother at her farm house, but the place is all locked up. Then Fusia finds a little girl,her sister named Alayaand gives her a big hug. She asks Alaya where is mother? Alaya says they took mother and other people to go work in a factory. Mother sent her over to the neighbors' house.
In the small town, the Germans are picking out those they want to move elsewhere. Max Diamant is one of the young men chosen to go. A young boy chosen for movement, goes back with his father. An officer that took him out of the group, now grabs the boy away from the group and shoots the boy in the back of the head.
Fusia brings her sister back with her to the town. The Diamants now have to get on the cattle cars. Fuisa yells out to Mrs. Diamant, who sees her and makes a slight sign of recognition. Max has to watch his family be taken away behind the barbed wire. He cries and tells Fusia that: "They are going to kill us, to kill us all." Max is dragged away from the barbed wire.
One of the Diamant boys, Max, returns to the Diamant home. He is all battered up. He tells Fusia that he told his brother Hiam to jump, but he did not jump, and now he will never see his brother again.
Fusia tells her girl friend and the Diamant young man she loves that she has brother Max with her at home. Fuscia says they must escape and they all will stay at the house. The brother says they cannot kill all the Jews. Fusia says yes they can.
Some days later the brother, his girlfriend and another young man escape from their work detail. They use the sewage system to sneak into the center of town. From there they go to the Diamant house. The two brothers hug each other tightly.
Fusia tries to get a job and fills out her work form. She gives the man an expensive piece of jewelry as a bribe. The man takes the jewelry, but he then tells her that there is no work for her right now. Fusia has to tell everyone back at home the bad news.
Now Fusia puts on a Jewish armband and sneaks into the ghetto. She goes to find the father of a non-Diamant escapee. The father and his friend have some gold. Fusia says she will take the father, the friend and the friend's relative with her to the Diamant place.
Max tells Fusia that she must find a larger place to stay that's away from the town in order to handle all these people. And Max has a letter for Fusia. The letter notifies her that she has job. She jumps for joy and lets everyone know about the job.
Fusia will be a factory worker. She meets her boss who is of German extraction. Lubic also works at the factory. He drops by to welcome Fusia to the factory. The boss watches the two of them with great curiosity.
Fusia goes to church and prays to God to help her find a bigger place to live. After church she asks two women if they know of a bigger place for her? They mention a place and Fusia hurries over there. The place has a big attic where her people could stay. Fusia takes the place.
Gradually the tenants move into the place. The escapees start improving the attic as soon as they move in. They have to stay in the attic so they won't be seen by the neighbors.
And now Fusia starts getting the three other prisoners out of the ghetto. The daughter comes out first. After that the two men get out and come to the house dressed as workers.
Spring 1943. 6 months later. Now Fusia has got to get three more prisoners more out of the ghetto. Fusia says she can't do it because she has been to the ghetto too many times. So her little sister volunteers to go.
The first attempt to bring them out is thwarted when a Gestpo man slaps Alayana around trying to get the message she has out of her mouth. Alayana kicks the man in the shins and gets away. The little girl has go find another way to get the three people out, but she does get them out. Everyone sees the little girl as a hero.
Two boys deliver a message to Fusia. A woman prisoner with two sons in the ghetto says she has tired of waiting for news from Fusia, so she and her boys will come to the home tomorrow. Fusia is furious. Who is this woman and how does she know their address? And what if the two delivery boys tell others about their place and the Gestapo finds out? And now she will have 15 people in all to feed.
A Jewish guard by the ghetto stops Fusia. He asks her to take him with two or three others and hide them. Fusia denies she hides Jewish people and asks who told the man she did such a thing? The man says all the Jewish guards know about her. Fusia runs away from the guard.
Fusia visits with the desperate mother, Mrs. Zimmerman, who says the Nazis can take her life, but they can't have the lives of her two children, a boy and a girl. So, Fusia brings all three people to her home.
The Germans now carry out a liquidation of the ghetto. There is a lot of shooting and a lot of screaming. Fusia and the others say their prayers.
A neighbor starts being nosy, asking Fusia's sister where do they get the money for all the food they bring into their house? Little sister has been trained to give certain acceptable answers.
On her way home from work, Fusia see German soldiers killing Jewish civilians, including a little boy. She is shocked and runs home as fast as she can.
At work, Fusia is scared of the Gestapo men talking with her boss. She things the Gestapo may arrest her. but, no, they go right past her. The boss calls her in and says the Gestapo is looking for Hans and Milda. He adds that they are both Jews. He then tells Fusia that he is going to try to make sure the Gestapo stays out of the factory: "Remember every moment is your last."
A young man from the factory wants to go out with Fusia but, as usual, she says no. He pushes his way into the living room. Then he sees a photo of an SS officer. The fellow asks her who is he, and Fusia she says: "He's my boyfriend." The young man says to Fusia that he will never forgive her for this. He leaves.
The escapee Max tells Fusia that he put the photo in a prominent place because he knew it would drive the young worker away. Fusia is very frustrated and says she wants someone to love her. Max tells her to just be patient.
One of the older women is dying. Fusia says she will get food for her and take good care of her. She goes for the food, but notices that a man who looks like he's with the Gestapo is watching her very intently. She has to stash the groceries and get home fast.
It's Christmas season and Fusia's boss hands out wine and food to his employees. He gives Fusia three times the wine and food he gave the other employees. He then tells her he is leaving tonight because the Russians are getting close. Fusia thanks her boss.
She goes home and tells the people they have some real food now and will celebrate Christmas Eve and the sabbath.
Spring 1944. Three months later. There is a loud knock on Fusia's door. A man says that they are taking over Fusia's apartment to make a hospital. She has just one hour to clear out. Everyone prays to God for assistance.
Fusia get's a break. The official says they have just decided to board some army nurses in the home and Fusia can stay. Instead, they are taking a whole wing of apartments for a hospital. Four nurses almost immediately move into Fusia's apartment. They bring a radio and at night dance with some of the soldiers. The people in the attic enjoy the smells of the delicious dishes that the nurses prepare. A nurse hears some noises from the attic and brings two soldiers in to investigate. Fusia is afraid, but the soldier who looks up in the attic sees rats there and is thoroughly repulsed. He comes down and tells Fusia that she's living with filthy vermin like the Jews and to keep her house cleaner. Fusia is now very relieved.
August 21, 1944. The Russians are bombing the town and their troops are moving into the area. The nurses flee from Fusia's apartment.
The Russian troops flow into Fusia's apartment. They find a German's military jacket and think that Fusia is a collaborator with the Germans. Fusia and her sister are pushed against a wall and they slide to the floor. Max saves the day by telling the soldiers to stop because this woman kept him and his people, Jews, from the Germans for two and a half years. Now the Russian soldiers helps lift Fusia and her sister up off the floor. They are all saved.
Hanek and Danuta have seven grandchildren. Only Dr. Shillinger and his daughter Judy remained in Przemysl. Mrs. Zimmerman and children, Janek and Cesia, moved to America. Siunek Hirsch became a doctor. His father, Leon, resumed his dentistry practice. Newlyweds Sally and Monek's great great grandchild was born last year. Yanek Dorley has retired from his Israeli government job. Helena still lives in Poland and is a doctor. Fusia and Max just celebrated their first wedding anniversary. When praised, Fusia replied: "I didn't do anything special."
Sad movie, but one with a silver lining. The Germans start committing genocide in the small town of Przemysl. They are efficient mass murderers. A Catholic girl named Fusia hides a good number of Jewish people from the Gestapo. She is risking her own live and the life of her sisters, but she was always concerned to keep her Jewish refugees fed and alive. She constantly risked her life and the life of her refugees by going on dangerous errands to get others out of the ghetto. Fusia was definitely a real hero.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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