Sonia Reich believes that she is being hunted. Her food is rancid and hair ridden with lice; her doctors are trying to poison her, and someone has painted a yellow Star of David on her lawn to mark her for the executioners. After raising a family in Skokie, Illinois, more than six decades later, the 76 year old woman is again a 9 year old girl in the small Polish village of Dubno, struggling to survive the Holocaust.
Her story first appeared in print with an article by her son, Howard Reich, in the Chicago Tribune, and then in his book, The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich: A Son's Memoir. Howard Reich has completed a documentary entitled Prisoner of Her Past with Chicago's Kartemquin Films, producers of the award-winning Hoop Dreams.
Sonia Reich does not have Alzheimer's, dementia, or other ailments commonly diagnosed in senior citizens. She has a little-known illness called late-onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In every other respect an alert, self-sufficient adult, she can no longer distinguish her childhood memories from real life. Dubno was a flourishing village of more than 12,000 Jews before World War II, and less than 100 are estimated to have survived the Holocaust.
The film includes scenes from present-day Dubno, now located in the Ukraine, and documents its history through interviews with other survivors - and Sonia Reich herself, as a son tries to understand why his mother is reliving this horrific trauma for a second time.
Howard Reich has been a Chicago Tribune arts critic and writer since 1983. In addition to covering jazz, blues and gospel music, he has authored several investigative reports on cultural issues, including the systematic theft of royalties from the jazz composer Jelly Roll Morton and the illicit trade in looted musical instruments. His cultural investigations have been featured on ABC-TV's Nightline and National Public Radio. He is the author of two other books: Jelly's Blues: The Life, Music and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton (2003), with William Gaines, and Van Cliburn (1993).
Opening Event Sponsors
If you would like to support the free, public programs of the Pritzker Military
Library, please consider becoming a member
or making a donation