Registration- 8:00 AM to 8:30 AM
Workshop- 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM
A free, full-day Character Development Program training is taking place on October 8th at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (40 Presidential Dr, Simi Valley, CA 93065). Middle and high school educators from all disciplines are invited to attend.
Join filmmakers Bernhard Rammerstorfer & A. Ferenc Gutai for a screening of their award winning documentary Ladder in the Lions' Den. After the screening the filmmakers will be joined by Jewish Auschwitz survivor Mrs. Renée Firestone, from Los Angeles, and by Austrian Victim of Nazi Tyranny Mrs. Hermine Liska for a discussion. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to hear from Nazi Era eyewitnesses. Copies of the book and documentary will be available for sale at the event, which they will sign following the program. This event is free to attend, however reservations (and the pre-purchase of books/DVDs) are recommended. REGISTER HERE.
Based on the book “Unbroken Will”, filmmakers Bernhard Rammerstorfer (Austria) and A. Ferenc Gutai (Simi Valley) tell the amazing true story of Leopold Engleitner, who at 107 years old was the world’s oldest known Nazi concentration camp survivor. Given the choice between life and death he found the courage to stand by his conscience. His refusal to join Hitler’s army and to give the “Heil Hitler,” salute put him and thousands of other Jehovah’s Witnesses in the crosshairs of the Third Reich. As if receiving a “ladder in the lions’ den,” he was given a way out–in exchange for his freedom, he was handed a document renouncing his faith and swearing allegiance to Hitler. He refused. After surviving Buchenwald, Niederhagen, and Ravensbrück, he weighed less than sixty-two pounds, but his will remained unbroken.
Spotlighted by the perspective of others such as Renée Firestone, a Jewish Auschwitz survivor, and Gottlieb Bernhardt (former SS bodyguard of Hitler) who himself faced a pivotal crisis of conscience, Leopold’s story resonates with the power of conviction and hope.
If not for a chance meeting with Bernhard Rammerstorfer, Leopold would have disappeared into the shadowed subtext of history. Together, they traveled 95,000 miles around the world promoting peace and tolerance.
In the last three consecutive years, the film has received 11 honors and awards from film festivals in the US and internationally. This film has received Best Short Documentary awards from the Fallbrook International Film Festival (California) and the Rincón International Film Festival (Puerto Rico), Audience Choice Award for a Documentary from the Marina del Rey Film Festival (Los Angeles County, California), Best International Feature Documentary award from the Laughlin International Film Festival (Nevada), Best Documentary and Alan Fortunoff Humanitarian Film Award nominations from the Long Island International Film Expo, and has been officially selected by the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival (Ohio), Life Fest Film Festival (Hollywood, California), Green Bay Film Festival (Wisconsin), and the Zagreb Jewish Film Festival and Rijeka Jewish Film Festival (both Croatia).
11:00 a.m. - 1:00p.m.
As part of a major speaking tour across the United States, author and award-winning international filmmaker Bernhard Rammerstorfer presents his latest Book and DVD entitled “TAKING THE STAND.” Accompanied by Jewish Auschwitz survivor and Holocaust Teacher Mrs. Renée Firestone, from Los Angeles, and by Austrian Victim of Nazi Tyranny Mrs. HermineLiska, he is providing one of the last opportunities to meet, in person, Nazi Era eyewitnesses.
Mrs. Renée Firestone’s life story was part of Steven Spielberg’s Oscar winning documentary “The Last Days” and Mrs. Hermine Liska, was a target of the Nazi re-education program as a child of Bible Students (Jehovah’s Witnesses) who rejected Nazi ideology.
In the morning, Mrs. Firestone and Mrs. Liska will speak to a student audience about the struggles they faced and how they overcame adversity. Their talk will be followed by a Q&A session and a book signing. Students and/or teachers interested in pre-purchasing a book can do so. Limited transportation scholarships are available. To register your class, CLICK HERE.
Later that evening we will have a screening of the award winning documentary, “The Ladder in the Lion’s Den”, based on the book “Unbroken Will”. It will be followed by a Q&A session with both of the filmmakers accompanied by Renee Firestone and Hermine Liska. To register for the evening event, CLICK HERE.
11:00 AM- Lecture, followed by Q & A
12:00 PM- Book Signing
1:00 PM- Event Concludes
6:00 PM- Documentary Screening
6:45 PM- Q&A with the filmmakers