2022 EMMY WINNER
Press & Reviews.
“New York filmmaker John Rokosny masterfully directed and produced this film as a testament for future generations. He seamlessly intertwined interviews with the siblings, Cesia, Benjamin, Hanka, Basia, and Tosia, pictures from The Red Hat (a children’s book written by Hanka), black-and-white photos, news footage, clippings, and facts. Presenting the events chronologically, starting in Krakow, Poland a tight-knit Orthodox-Jewish community, where life was simple and safe, Rokosny shows how society devolved, as Jews are systematically eliminated.”
The Jewish Voice and Opinion 2023
“It was amazing to see this film on the big screen. My daughters (8 and 11) loved it and didn't want it to end. They wanted to meet the family. So important we share stories of what war and racism does to our societies and what we can learn from these tragedies. There so many learning jewels in this story but the most touching for me is that there is hope and that we all must be a part of the solution, otherwise we are part of the problem. Bravo John Rokosny and Andriette for bringing this story to life in such a poignant and artful way! And, my respects and awe to the family. Their story is breathtaking, unbelievable, sobering and hopeful.”
Maria Corral, Communications Executive
“We hosted a screening of 'They Survived Together' at our library. The film itself is exceptional and succeeds in bringing the Neiger family's legacy to light. John and Andriette were present and had a Q&A with the audience afterward, giving patrons more insight into the family members' lives as well as their own perspectives in directing, producing, and writing the film. Patrons thoroughly enjoyed the event and were raving about it even days afterward.”
Mariela Cifuentes - Adult Events Coordinator, Cape May County Library
Amazing movie! (They Survived Together) had a huge impact on me. So beautifully done, and what a story. I happened to be feeling kind of tender at the time, and at first I wasn't sure I wanted to go back into that world. We lost 42 Shukman's between 1940 and 1943 from their small village not too far from Krakow, but I couldn't stop, and the story kept growing and growing. It was totally amazing! What a wonderful and beautiful sweep of a narrative. And just full of surprises, and so moving. Actually burst into a big cathartic cry a little after watching it, feeling the pain of my ancestors, at the same time as the beauty of this story, and of our family story too, having "survived together."
Henry Shukman - Author
"One of the most inspiring and life affirming stories of all time, beautifully presented in a documentary that will soon become essential viewing for anyone interested in history."
Wendy Horowitz, Los Angeles Public Library Archivist.
"The mark of an honest Holocaust documentary is when it tells the audience something they do not want to hear....Seeing this film, I was reminded of the Hasidic teaching of Menachem Mendl of Kotzk: “Nothing is as whole as a heart that has been broken and mended.” This film shows that even after the mending, the scabs remain and the whole is never quite whole again."
Michael Berenbaum - Director Sigi Ziering Institute, Professor of Jewish Studies at American Jewish University.
It’s a beautifully made, fully realized film, unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. Maybe because it’s about one family, so you get the whole impact of the Nazi occupation, but there’s always a through-line. Special mention should be made commending the exceptionally creative video combo — artists’ renderings, family photos and stock footage — and of the evocative soundtrack. I found it very moving and immensely satisfying.
Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg
Chair of the New York board of Rabbi Holocaust Commission
Congratulations on a tremendous documentary. Absolutely stunning.
The importance of this story and the art with which it is retold is palpable, compelling and immediate…
The world is grateful for this crucial testimony retold by heroic humans who miraculously survived the horror. Such feats and risks they and others undertook to help them to evade being murdered is documented so carefully in your work. John Rokosny is a powerful film maker.
Thank you for your clarity, artistry and focus to make such a piece of overwhelming truth. Thank you for bringing this family such important immortality on film. They are a lesson to all humanity.
Lori Singer. Actress
“I watched. Did not move a muscle. Then I cried.”
Barbara Korsen (Voice Actress)
My wife and I just watched your amazing documentary on PBS. We found it to be an extremely moving experience. It is expert cinematic story telling at its finest. Each family member's part of the story was eloquently and sensitively told. Captured and edited with perfection. We were also impressed with the weaving of illustrations and hard to find archival footage bringing together this amazing saga. Thank you for telling a story that we must never forget. Bravo!
Joe Prieboy (HBO)
“Totally gorgeous. Magnificent work .“
Irwin Redlener. MD
Columbia University MSNBC/ NBC
The memories of Holocaust survivors never cease to horrify. Whenever you think you’re shock-proof, you have to think again. In John Rokosny’s PBS documentary, “They Survived Together,” one survivor recounts how the Nazis, having invaded Poland, forced Jews to carve out their own graves and lie down in them. Often, the self-created graves contained families, including children and infants. Within moments German soldiers were tossing live grenades on to their prone bodies. In Polish hospitals, doctors approached their Jewish patients and gave them a choice; they could either be shot by the Nazis or they could be euthanized. This offering was viewed as an act of compassion.
Still, as far as Holocaust films go, Rokosny’s movie has a comparatively “happy” ending. After all, it tells the story of the Neigers, a Jewish Polish family, who made it out alive and intact. It is a virtually unknown historical narrative. But there are no true happy endings. The events of that time and place forever inform the lives of the survivors.
The nightmares continue and the ghosts linger.
It was so well done. I love how (the filmmakers) utilized all the mediums, archival footage, his own footage, the voiceovers, the photographs, the illustrations, the music; it’s a beautiful interactive experience, done seamlessly to pull together all the elements of the story.
Diana Reeve, Instructor of Film Studies, Manchester College, CT
This film is so well done! I have taught the Holocaust for decades at my school; your movie is truly a gift to the world.
Julie Mann, ELA/ENL teacher, Newcomers High School, LIC, NY