production and distribution with financial support from
Documentary film Return to the Burning House introduces the life of a remarkable woman Haviva Reick. It presents a wealth of hitherto unknown archival material, memories of contemporaries and follows Haviva’s traces in Slovakia and Israel. Above all it is a story of an attractive person who is an inspiration until today.
She came from poor social context and became active in the Zionist movement. She was among the few women of the pre-war era to ride a motorcycle. She escaped the Nazis to Palestine where she built one of the kibbutzim. Yet she was also active in the movement to end the British occupation of Palestine. In spite of that she joined the British SOE units to help persecuted Jews. After she was dispatched to Slovakia during the Slovak National Uprising she was actively helping Jews as well as the British and US pilots. After the Uprising she was arrested and executed in Kremnička by the Nazis. To remain in Palestine meant a great hope to survive; to leave for Slovakia meant risking one’s life. Yet she did not have second thoughts.
Haviva’s story opens a wider theme on the activities of women in the Slovak National Uprising that still awaits more comprehensive research. We know that, as part of the SNU, women were active in the army as well as the guerrilla movement. Theirs was an irreplaceable role. Telephone operators, medics, but often also warriors, even snipers. In any case, they were risking their lives.
Runtime: 44'/ 70'
Release date: 27.01. 2015
Haviva’s restless and courageous spirit is not only behind the departure to then then Palestine, behind her building the kibbutz and later entering the military and intelligence training, but equally behind the revolt against the conventional model of a married woman. She was hardworking, tough, she enjoyed learning. That brought her to a leading position among paratroopers. At the same time Haviva was perceptive, goodhearted, empathic and charitable. The concept of the film draws upon this dichotomy, searching for both faces of the character. The terse language of military documents is intertwined with quotations from Haviva’s correspondence; unconventional relations with men are preceded with the search for a childhood lost in Nadabula and Radvaň. The vibrant greenery and mountainous landscape surrounding Banská Bystrica is combined with the yellow sandy landscape of contemporary Israel in places where Haviva went through the military training. The story of Haviva Reick takes us to the lives of contemporary young women in the military service in Israel and Slovakia. They read letters and historical documents, thus giving the film spontaneity and authenticity of those who are close to her through their life choices. What makes modern young women to serve their country with arms in their hands? What do they think of a position of women in the military? Do they long to become heroines at all? Perhaps it is them to help us grasp the meaning of the story and tragic death of Haviva Reick.”
The forthcoming documentary is bound to be (after 70 years) a distinguished tribute and a reminder of the little known female heroine.
– Alexander Potok, Jewish Community, Nitra
Haviva Reick lost her life during the mission in Slovakia, then a „burning house”. We wanted to make her immortal, to keep her memory. Anna Grusková’s documentary will undoubtedly achieve this. We have seen the wonderful teaser. It will trigger interest also among those who have no idea about Haviva Reick. The documentary touches upon the key features of her personality and mission. We are convinced that the entire story will make a wonderful film.
– Tehila a Zeev Ofer, authors of a monograph on Haviva Reick
The idea to make Haviva more visible dates back some years. We have kept it as tiny flame, often as a mere smouldering coal. Yet in all the years we did not allow the idea to be extinguished. We kept blowing into the embers and eventually ignited an interest among others. The idea now burns in full flame. If we bring it into fruition, which I hope we do, we shall pass it to the coming generations to give Haviva a distinguished place in history. She does deserve it.
– Stanislav Mičev, historian, Director General, Museum of the Slovak National Uprising, Banská Bystrica
It was in conversation with my father, who was a writer, when I first came across Haviva Reick. He was so taken by her dramatic story that he contemplated its literary interpretation. When I saw the teaser for the film by Anna Grusková, I was delighted to realise that the film is bound to prevent the story from being buried under the cloud of forgetting or from disappearing from Slovak memory. It is with great anticipation that I look forward to the premiere that shall fill yet another empty spot in our awareness of our history and will inspire us with civic patriotism.
– Juraj Johanides, film director
With her deeds Haviva Reick wrote history, joined the war effort of the powers. Yet she was also a restless spirit and an unconventional woman who is close to many of us. We want to study her story under magnifying glass, walk through history and shed further light on her personality in order to discover what kept moving her forward.
– Mirka Molnár Ľachká, producer
Haviva Reick expressed the meaning of her life in a letter to her husband: “I believe that, when one lives in certain society, s/he has to be responsible for it, thus has to be active.” Haviva’s untiring service to honourable ideals kept on hitting upon negligence, egotism and power interests. Her faith thus resembles the destiny of Bratislava-based Jewish activist Gisi Fleischmann to whom I dedicated my previous film. Haviva admired Gisi and I admire them both. I am drawn to stories of strong women.
– Anna Grusková, screenwriter and director
The movie Return to a Burning House is part of a broader project 'Haviva Reick: Her Return to European Memory'. This project is coordinated by the Museum of Slovak National Uprising in Banska Bystrica and co-funded by Europe for Citizens Programe of European Union.
Please,read more about the project in its complexity here.
messages.realizáciu tohto filmu podporil
With financial support
"Herb and Beverly Lieberman Foundation"
Remember the Women Institute Welcome