Ben’s Lost Footage


It’s a six second, black and white, grainy clip. A few men stand, scrawny, starved, depleted. Then, out of the left corner, a boy’s head pops into the frame, looking directly at the camera. A moment later, he is gone. Like a ghost, disappearing back into that hell of a world. 

Footage exists of the Holocaust in many facets. But this? This clip is the only one — to my knowledge — which exists of me. Or rather, the boy I used to be.

It’s eerie to view this tiny fragment of my life. While I recall my existence in Dachau, I don’t recall any filming of it.

Did it come from Dachau? Is it me, for sure? I don’t know.

What I do know is Emanuel Rotstein, the director of the documentary “Die Befreier” (The Liberators: Why We Fought) sent me this long-lost footage while scouring the archives during production of the History Channel program.

He thought it was me.

If you look at photos of me as a teen, it certainly looks like me.

7_BenLesser Portrait shot 16 copy

Ben, 1946. One year after liberation

Time has faded my memories, but I believe it could be. According to Emanuel, the footage comes from Dachau, as we were liberated. While I was frail, having just survived a month-long death train, that skeleton of a boy looks like me. My face. My eyes. My everything. Although I nearly collapsed at the feet of the liberators, perhaps this boy in the film is me. Spurred to a bit more life knowing that I was given life again.

Seeing this scene stirs up the ghosts. The history. It also serves as a stark reminder that this terrible atrocity happened. That there is documentation showing the hell we were put through because of what we believed in.

It’s the ghost of the past. History found. Life taken, life given. Images forever there. Forever to be shared and remembered.

For more on the documentary, be sure to read my thoughts on being a part of the production.

3 thoughts on “Ben’s Lost Footage

  1. I cannot imagine what it would be like to see footage like this and see yourself in it. I know for me as a follower of your posts, it is amazing. . . surreal. . . unreal. You survived! Thank you so much for sharing this. You’ve given me much to ponder, As you always do,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. astounding. Ben, I think it is you, and you know, it is all of us, any of us… but it is REAL, there it is in “black and white” and you made it with some others that have thank g-d shared their stories of survival, miraculous survival of the worst disease – hate, ignorance, fear. You are so smart, courageous and above all LOVED – that you beat hate and all of it. So honored to know you and see what/who can grow from the darkest places.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, yes, yes, Ben,one of the reasons for your life is to be the voice of the hundreds of thousands, millions, who never had a chance to be heard by the world, those who were so brutally robbed of all that is good in this world and were gassed to silence.
    But there are so many more reasons for your existence – to be a wonderful husband to your wife, a fabulous father to your daughters, an incredible role model to your grandchildren, to us, to future generations.
    Thank you for keeping the memory alive and allowing us to accompany for a little part of your dreadful journey.
    Peace be with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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