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Traces Part III: My Father's War

Encouraging resistance and resilience through documentary animation film

My Father’s War is the third and last part of Humanity in Action’s new animated documentary film trilogy TRACES-Portraits of Resistance, Survival and Resolve

The trilogy was co-produced by Humanity in Action’s Executive Director Judith Goldstein and Irene Braam.

My Father’s War, an animated documentary produced by Humanity in Action, brings to life the experiences of Peter Hein and his son David Hein. As a Jewish toddler in the Netherlands in the 1940s, Peter was separated from his parents and whisked from hiding place to hiding place to escape deportation. From feigning scarlet fever to avoid a Nazi raid, to suffering crippling injuries during a bombing campaign, Peter somehow survives, one day at a time, even as capture and death surround him. 

Meanwhile, the film also follows Peter’s parents, who themselves must make a series of daring escapes as their hiding places are revealed to Nazi forces by Dutch collaborators. By the end of the war, when Peter and his parents are finally reunited, Peter cannot even recognize them. “I just saw a strange man with long black hair and a little woman who was crying and trying to kiss me. I didn’t want anything from them,” Peter recalls in the film.  

But for Peter’s son David, his father’s war stories once sounded widely exiting, and as a child, David longs for the opportunity to experience similar exhilaration. He fantasizes about what he would do if he had to go into hiding: With whom would he hide? And where would he do it? What David did not realize is that, while his father’s physical injuries healed, a deep psychological trauma lingered. Eventually, Peter’s mental health buckles under the weight of his memories. He suffers an emotional breakdown; he cannot leave his bed, let alone continue his work as a doctor. The family’s economic condition deteriorates as David watches his hero, his father, fade into a shell of his former self. 

The film thus explores the hereditary trauma of the Holocaust: the deep emotional wounds of forefathers passed on to children and grandchildren. Peter’s mental collapse jars David’s childhood, and reveals to David the deep-seated impact conflict renders on those who suffer it. Ultimately, the experience inspires David to pursue a career bringing war criminals to justice. 

Narrated by both Peter and David, My Father’s War depicts an intergenerational conversation, reverberating across the decades.  Developed by an international team of documentarians, researchers and animators, this film preserves these critical stories of our past to share with our future.   

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My Father's War- Official Trailer

My Father’s War is based on the books In Hiding and The Sixth Year by Peter Hein and A War to Call my Own by David Hein.

The film has been selected as Best Animation Film at the Cannes Shorts Film Festival 2021. On April 11, 2022, it had its World Premiere at the esteemed American Documentary and Animation Film Festival.

Humanity in Action’s new animated documentary trilogy TRACES- Portraits of Resistance, Survival and Resolve includes the films Voices in the Void, Two Trees in Jerusalem and My Father’s War.

 

My Father’s War on IMDB

Film Stills

Download My Father's War Press Kit

Our Supporter

My Father's War was made with the generous support of the Alfred Landecker Foundation.

"In dealing with the Holocaust, new formats and ways of telling stories must be found. The films in the series 'Traces: Portraits of Resistance, Survival and Resolve' not only carry the memory into the digital realm, but also build much-needed bridges to current social challenges. The films contribute to the necessary update of the culture of remembrance.”
Steffen Jost, Program Director, Alfred Landecker Foundation