Directed by Gordon Quinn
Written by Howard Reich
Sonia Reich survived the Holocaust as a child by
escaping her ghetto. She ran and hid from the
Nazis for several years until moving to the U.S.,
where she lived a normal life.
60 years later, she is being haunted by memories
from her past.
She ran out of her house one night, convinced
there were Nazis chasing her, trying to put a
bullet in her head.
Her son, Howard, had her put in a nursing home,
where she still believes she is being chased by the
She constantly says that she is not a whore,
referencing Nazis treatment of women.
She has strange habits, such as splitting bread into
10 baggies – 5 for her, 5 for her son – and
constantly acts like she is still being hunted.
Sonia was diagnosed with late-onset post-
traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and is reliving
She never told Howard, her son, what had
happened to her as a child. She refused to talk
about it, and relatives wouldn't speak of it either.
All Howard knew was that his mother had
somehow escaped a ghetto.
← Sonia as a child with cousin,
Leon, and grandfather.
Howard set off to what is now Poland with a
cousin, Leon, another survivor, to try and
discover what happened to his mother.
He never found out exactly what happened to his
mother, but he saw where she grew up.
He also saw spots where thousands of people
← A ghetto similar to the
one Sonia would have
Howard wanted to help his mother, he just didn't
know how to do it. Seeing the place where she
grew up made her childhood more real to him,
though he did not know exactly what happened to
her, and would never find out.
Some people suggested that trying to get his
mother to speak would be beneficial. He, though,
disagreed. He thought it would only cause harm if
she tried to relive it anymore. He believed that
sometimes, speaking about a problem isn't
enough to resolve it.
The past affects everybody in different ways,
depending on how traumatic an event is and
how soon help occurs. The sooner you can
provide help to someone, the better off they will
be in the future.
I found the recurring theme to be that the past can
haunt anybody. Extremely traumatic events, such
as the Holocaust, will have the longest and worst
Sonia Reich is a prime example of this, among
many Holocaust survivors. The survivors were
not offered much help psychologically when they
were freed, causing them to still be affected to
this day through things like Concentration Camp
Syndrome, Survivor's Guilt, and PTSD.
If the survivor's could have gotten help sooner,
they would be better off now. This was Howard
Reich's central message.
This film was very effective in conveying the
Several psychologists were interviewed, all
expressing this idea.
Howard also visited a group of students in New
Orleans who were hit by Hurricane Katrina, to
help them deal with the trauma. He said that by
helping them now, instead of 60 years later, their
futures will be easier.
By adding a source that is similar, but doesn't
have to do with the Holocaust, Reich's message
The students who were hit by Katrina that
I don't think the director's main goal was to make
the audience feel pity for Sonia. I think the
director wanted us to feel a small amount, but that
shouldn't be the overwhelming emotion.
The director included funny moments of Sonia
and showed that, though she may still be reliving
her past, she's still a stubborn woman.
I think the director and the writer's goal was to
make us want to go out and help.
Reich wanted to encourage us to understand that
though people are affected physically by
traumatic events, they are also affected mentally.
Yes, money and physical aid are good things to
send, but so is someone who can help them
Sonia eating bread brought by
Howard. She won't eat food
from the nursing home because
she believes it is covered with
lice, a leftover belief from her
Family Members: Howard interviewed
several family members who grew up with
Sonia, trying to figure out what happened to
her, but to no avail.
Psychologists: Howard interviewed several
psychologists, who diagnosed Sonia with
PTSD and who said that if she had gotten
help earlier, she might not be suffering now.
Villagers: Howard interviewed many village
members in Dubno, where Sonia grew up,
← Leon, Sonia's cousin
who traveled with Howard
to Dubno and who helped
Howard understand his
Howard talking to a villager
and Leon's son about life in
What is the role of the individual in the
This film helped me gain insight into this specific
I believe the role of the individual is to help the
victims of a traumatic event in every way
possible, to the best of our ability.
This includes mental, as well as physical, needs.
It is our role to look out for those around us and
to help ensure a happier future for those victims.
How have human choices had a local
and global impact?
This film helped me to answer this question also.
Human choices don't have an immediate effect
What someone chooses today can affect a person
for the rest of their life.
Because of this, it is extremely important to
analyze all consequences of possible decisions so
that the best decisions can be made.
There are a few things this film left unanswered:
How is Sonia today? Did she ever talk to Leon?
If talking is not always the best solution to help
someone, in what other ways can we help?
Why did Sonia's PTSD suddenly occur now, 60 years
Traumatic events happened to people all over the
world, every day. They don't have to be to the
scale of the Holocaust – smaller actions can
also have large effects. It is our responsibility to
help those people who face these traumas
avoid a future like Sonia's: one that is the same
as their past.
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