How It Felt to Be a Holocaust Survivor in Skokie, Illinois


On June 25, 1978, after a year-long legal battle that had the whole nation debating the limits of free speech, a group of white supremacists were poised to march in the bucolic Chicago suburb of Skokie, Illinois, where one in six residents was a Holocaust survivor. Jack Adler was one such survivor, though he’d kept his horrific past from many people – including his filmmaker son, Eli. But when the National Socialist Party of America posted leaflets with swastikas on them at a local shul, Jack could no longer stay quiet.

Surviving Skokie is poignant and provocative, weaving together archival footage, contemporary interviews, and a deeply personal narration by Eli about his growing relationship with his father. Because of the Skokie upheaval, Jack started to open up about life in Auschwitz, losing his family, and the Dachau death march. His fellow survivors joined him in the fight against the NSPA, taking it all the way to the Supreme Court. The march was ruled constitutionally protected speech–but it never actually materialized.

This film is a remarkably personal testament to resilience and activism. Jack has gone from burying his past to speaking publicly all over the country and writing a riveting memoir. Eli’s connection to his father and his passion for human rights is evident in every moment he captures on film.

And it can now be seen online.

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