Premiere of “Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp Home” at Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center

Jun 6, 2012

"Refuge" Director Ethan Bensinger and Consul General Onno Hückmann. Enlarge image "Refuge" Director Ethan Bensinger and Consul General Onno Hückmann. (© Photo by Timmy Samuel/Starbelly Studios Photography) What became of the thousands of Holocaust survivors and refugees that fled Europe before, during and after World War II, especially those that went to Chicago? What were their experiences? What are their stories? Who will pass this information along to future generations? A new one-hour documentary directed by Ethan Bensinger addresses these vary questions. “Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp Home” premiered at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center on June 3, 2012. German Consul General Onno Hückmann delivered some remarks before the question and answer session after the film. He emphasized the fact that it is through films and events such as this that make sure the stories of the Holocaust and those who survived are remembered and retold for generations to come.

“Refuge” tells not only the story of the violence and destruction that the founders and residents of the Selfhelp Home fled, but also the kindness, humanity and compassion that they have shown one another in Chicago. The Selfhelp Home began in 1938 with a group of European Jewish immigrants who wanted to help others like themselves resettle and rebuild their new lives in Chicago. This community has since served over 1,000 Western European Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors. Today, the Selfhelp Home is an active and engaging   non-profit senior living community.

Gerry Franks, Consul General Onno Hückmann and Jan Hückmann. Enlarge image Gerry Franks, Consul General Onno Hückmann and Jan Hückmann. (© Photo by Timmy Samuel/Starbelly Studios Photography) Director Ethan Bensinger was inspired to film “Refuge” after having created an archive in 2007 of personal narratives from 30 Selfhelp Home residents who had been victims of Nazi persecution. Ethan’s parents and grandparents were also forced to flee the Nazi regime in the 1930s.

A question and answer session followed by a reception took place after the premiere. More screenings of “Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp Home” are scheduled. Please visit its website for more information.  

Historic Responsibility

Historic Responsibility

Germany is profoundly aware of the historic responsibility it bears toward the Jewish community and toward the State of Israel as a result of the crimes of the Nazi regime. This responsibility, a cornerstone of German policy, requires remembrance, reconciliation and ongoing vigilance - now and in the future.

© Germany.info/chicago

Refuge Film

New Synagogue in Berlin
Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp Home

Refuge is a one-hour documentary revealing the origins and originality of a resourceful Chicago community that over generations has brought together more than 1,000 Western European Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors under one roof. Interweaving archival footage with testimony by the Selfhelp Home's residents, founders and historians, this film reaches back 70 years to tell the experiences of this last generation before, during and after World War II.  

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost and by teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice and indifference. The museum fulfills its mission through the exhibition, preservation and interpretation of its collections and through education programs and initiatives that foster the promotion of human rights and the elimination of genocide.