Erna de Vries | I wanted to see the sun again
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About the project

Outline of our current projekt "Erna de Vries | I wanted to see the sun again"

Our current project “Erna de Vries | I wanted to see the sun again” aims at documenting the story of the German Jew Erna de Vries during the time of National Socialism.

Within this context we are giving an account on the different chapters in Mrs. de Vries’ life: After first intimidation already in her early childhood and the Night of Broken Glass on November 9th/10th, 1938, the hostility she faces climaxes in her deportation. We are reporting about her survival in the extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the women’s concentration camp of Ravensbrueck, the Death Walk and the liberation by US-American soldiers in 1945.


The main focus of our work is put on a 45-minute-documentary. Apart from personal statements by Erna de Vries we are planning on using documents from various archives as well as photographs from Mrs. de Vries’ personal property. The documentary can be downloaded from our home page or be purchased as a DVD, which will additionally contain the complete and unedited interview with Erna de Vries.

We are principally having Erna de Vries tell her story herself, her narration being supported by an offstage commentary which provides additional background information. The effect that the audience is given the opportunity of approaching the story on an emotional basis is actually intended and even desired. By researching the city archives in Kaiserslautern and the archives of the memorials in Auschwitz-Birkenau and Ravensbrueck we have verified the correctness of the dates and incidents mentioned during the interview and thus tried to eliminate any possible mistakes.

We have decided against employing historical film coverage from the archives and instead settled on the use of latest footage: Due to the fact that there are no cinematic sources from the period Erna de Vries has spent in Auschwitz-Birkenau and Ravensbrueck we would have been forced to resort to sources from the period after the liberation of the concentration camps in 1945. These would of course come close to the state of 1943 but the use of them would also be historically incorrect. Though this holds true for latest footage as well, it has the advantage of not making the audience consider it contemporary and furthermore giving ideas of the concentration camps in color.

Additional Material

To give interested people the opportunity to look further into some aspects of the film as well as of National Socialism and the Holocaust this homepage provides additional material such as essays, documents from various archives or photographs. By means of a timeline visitors of our homepage can take an overview of the major political events during National Socialism. We are furthermore providing information about the basics of the Jewish religion. There is a list of references to all documents used by the film, which are also available online, provided that this is legally allowed.

Teaching Material

To help teachers use the film in schools various teaching materials can be found: We are currently developing several modules that shall be planned in accordance with the curricular guidelines for the German federal states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. Due to the fact that we would have to adapt the modules to British or American guidelines they will unfortunately only be available in German.

The results of our work, the documentary with all additional material and the teaching material will be gratuitously made available for download. Due to the fact that this is a German project and we do not have the time to do all the translation work apart from our studies only the basic homepage and the curriculum vitae of Erna de Vries are available in English. Thank you for understanding.