Liat Steir-Livny, Ph.D.

Senior Lecturer. Holocaust Studies, Film Studies & Cultural Studies  


Trauma from the Perspective of Holocaust Survivors in the Israeli Film 'The Cellar' (Natan Gross,1963)

Liat Steir-Livny 2018

Prooftext: A Journal of Jewish Literature History

The Cellar (Hamartef, Natan Gross, 1963) is a groundbreaking film—the only Israeli fictional film created by Holocaust survivors regarding the Holocaust and its aftermath from the perspective of a Holocaust survivor protagonist. Yet it has been largely ignored by studies on the representation of the Holocaust in Israeli cinema and has not been attributed proper significance. This article is the first to give center stage to this pioneering film. It shows that this under researched film was the marker of change, a first cinematic attempt at relating the story of Holocaust survivors with complexity and depth, which threw aside the shallow narrative of national redemption in Israel, that characterized Israeli cinema in the 1940s and 1950s. Instead it focused on 1930s Germany and the return to Germany after World War II, periods which had thus far been neglected in Israeli cinema. Moreover, the article highlights The Cellar as exceptional in comparison to fictional films produced after 1963, which focus mainly on the lives of Holocaust survivors in Israel, and which disregard the themes of life in 1930s Europe, as well as the attempts by survivors to return home after World War II.

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Holocaust, Holocaust survivors, Israeli cinema


Steir-Livny, Liat, "Trauma from the Perspective of Holocaust Survivors in the Israeli Film 'The Cellar' (Natan Gross,1963)", Prooftext: A Journal of Jewish Literature History, Vol 37:2, 2018, pp. 308-327.

© 2014 Liat Steir-Livny. Designed by Boaz Albert