When he was alive, Joseph Fisher never shared with his children any of his experiences while being interned in concentration camps during World War II. So, you might imagine their surprise to find a diary recounting his nightmarish ordeal among his personal effects after he passed away.
Only one of his offspring, David, could bring himself to read the memoir, a heartbreaking account of a struggle to maintain sanity in the face of unspeakable horrors ranging from forced labor to starvation to torture to rape to cannibalism to murder. The incredibly revealing reflections ("It's as if you have no skin to protect you.") posthumously erased an emotional boundary that had existed between the son and his understandably-traumatized, if emotionally-distant parent.
David immediately felt compelled to travel to Europe to retrace his dad's footsteps from Auschwitz to Gusen to Gunskirchen. And he soon succeeded in convincing his very hesitant siblings to join him on the trek. The upshot of that undertaking is "Six Million and One," as moving a documentary about the Holocaust as one is ever apt to encounter.
At the site of the death camps, we hear poignant passages from Joseph Fisher's journal about being ordered to remove bodies of other prisoners from the extermination block and about having to eat grass and snails to stay alive. He also talks about how, upon being liberated, "I felt guilty about surviving. I've felt this way all my life."
By film's end, expect to weep as much as all four Fisher kids. A bittersweet tale of survival, as well as a priceless history lesson for the ages illustrating man's capacity for inhumanity to his fellow man.
Excellent (4 stars)
In Hebrew English and German with subtitles
Running time: 93 minutes
Distributor: Nancy Fishman Film Releasing