The Holocaust and my Father: Six Million and One

Thu Feb 21, 9-10.30pm, BBC4

Anyone with siblings will recognise the scenario. An incident from the past comes up and it’s the cue for a well-worn discussion about parental quirks, favouritism and shared family traits. We’ve all been there and, in this film, the Fisher family go there too. They, however, have the conversation while sitting in a tunnel built by their father while he was a prisoner of the Nazis during World War II. It’s intense, emotional, oddly amusing and, in the end, surprisingly universal too. ‘If you put this bit in your film’, quips family joker Ronel, ‘add a parental warning’.

Prompted by film director David Fisher, the middle-aged Fisher children are on a pilgrimage to Austria. They’re retracing their father Joseph’s footsteps during the war so inevitably, much of the journey is harrowing. But eventually, there’s a vivid sense of closure too. The town of Gusen, which once housed a concentration camp, looks beautiful in the snow and boasts an incongruously jolly brass band. Everyone moves on because everyone must. Eventually, the Fisher children look like they’re making peace with the past too.



Fiercely recommended. In the end it was/ wasn't about the holocaust, but for me, was about families that survive and live through trauma by learning to laugh and cry at/ with each other. Some who wear it deeply under their skin and others who need to face it and see it with their own eyes. This documentary is a faith giver. If only we could all be as brutally honest and so in love with our siblings.