Esther Stermer, matriarch of the Stermer family saved her family from almost certain death during the Holocaust by taking them into the underground caves in the Ukraine. This compelling docu-drama narrates how this came about.
In 1942, the situation for Jews in Ukraine was dire as the Nazis and local collaborators rounded up Jews for deportation to the labor and extermination camps. Many Jews were also rounded up by the Ukrainian police and shot. Esther decided that the family would hide in some caves, but these caves were known to the locals, and the Nazis and Ukrainian police found them and arrested them. However, with a combination of good luck and determination, the family survives and manages to escape once again, and this time they make their way to a cave that is not known to others. Not only do they find refuge here, they are also lucky to have running water which makes it convenient for them as they don't have to leave the caves as often, unless to find food. In all, 38 people from two Jewish families, the Stermers and Wexlers, survived the war in the caves.
The surviving members of the family recount what it was like at the time, with tales of near-misses and periods of living in uncertainty, but the story is one of survival and eventual triumph over adversity. During a time when millions of Jews were slaughtered, this tale of courage, resilience, and survival is one that gladdens the heart. I especially enjoyed the scene where some of the surviving members, the oldest aged 91, visit the Ukraine to revisit scenes of their past, including the caves, accompanied by their grandchildren. Truly a memorable docu-drama.