Professor shares experiences of Holocaust

By on April 26, 2006

Six decades ago a Polish prisoner in Auschwitz found a diamond in the snow. The starving women traded the valuable stone for a piece of bread.

Half a century later that woman’s daughter, Mira Reym Binford, a professor of media studies, recalled that experience when she titled her acclaimed documentary about the Holocaust “Diamonds in the Snow.”

The documentary focuses on the stories of three of only a dozen surviving Jewish children from the wartime population of Bedzin, Poland. Binford herself is one of these children.

“The other two women and I, who are at the center of the film, were very young children when we were separated from our parents and, as a result of good luck and great bravery, hidden from the Nazis by Polish Christian rescuers,” she said.

Binford’s parents also survived the ordeal.

Binford uses a combination of interviews and accurate historical footage to tell the story of her upbringing as a Jew in Poland during the time of the Nazi invasion. She also tells much of the story drawing upon her own memories.

“In a sense I’ve been working on this film almost my whole life.thinking and re-thinking the experiences, telling the stories and trying to comprehend them,” Binford said. “When I finally got to making what became “Diamonds in the Snow,” I took some of these experiences I’ve lived with all my life and put them in a form that speaks, I hope, for more than just myself and for more than just one murderous time in history.”

The Production of “Diamonds in the Snow” took five years. Binford interviewed 150 people in seven countries. Filming took place in Poland, Germany, Israel, and the United States.

Binford places special emphasis on the authenticity that her extensive research and the use of archival footage made possible.

“Nothing is simulated or faked,” she said. “This is the way it was and looked in that place at that historical moment.”

Binford released the hour-long documentary in 1994. Its accolades include a first prize in the Jewish Video Competition and the CINE Golden Eagle Award.

The School of Communications will honor Binford with a special screening of her documentary.

Binford has been a valuable asset to Quinnipiac University throughout her tenure here.

“For someone who loves to learn, the two best professions are being a documentary filmmaker and being a teacher,” she said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed them both.”

Binford plans to stay active in the field of Media Studies in the near future. She will return to Poland to participate in a research project on Polish documentary films about the holocaust. She has also been invited to lead a seminar at an International Historical Congress in Krakow in 2007.

Binford will also co-teach an MSS 307 course which studies the holocaust through various avenues of media.

Binford emphasizes the value that she places on her time spent as an educator.

“My finest memories of Quinnipiac are of my students, being able to observe and nurture their growth,” she said. “These students’ lives have touched me as they say I’ve touched them, and they say I’ve learned through and from them.”


About Andrew McDonough