The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 12, 1996 · Page 106
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The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania · Page 106

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Friday, April 12, 1996
Page 106
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THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER Friday, April 12, 1996 Review: Television F20 Retracing his mother's escape from Nazis By Robert Strauss FOR THE INQUIRER David Lee Preston had spent his ; whole life planning his trip to the . Ukrainian village of Turka, in the - foothills of the Carpathian Moun-? tains. , Finally, in November 1992, Pres-' ton and his wife, Ronda Goldfein, "went to Turka, not with Polaroid and Fodor's guidebook, but with video camera and a mission to fill a void in his family's collective mem-; ory. For Turka is the place from . which Preston's mother escaped in 1942. She was one of a handful of the town's 6,000 Jews not to die(at the ' hands of the Nazis. " the story of Preston's trip to Turka and what he found there are the basis for the documentary Visiting the Past, to be aired Sunday at 7 p.m. on Channel 12. v The documentary, in turn, arose from a story Preston was researching that was published last Mother's Day in Inquirer Magazine. .: "I was a very young boy when my mother sort of put the obligation on - my shoulders to write the story of . her survival," says Preston, an In- quirer columnist, over shaky home - movies of one of his early birthday parties, presided over by Halina Wind Preston, looking like any ; other postwar suburban mother. -, The next shots are quite a bit more grim, taken from a car passing - through the somewhat broken-down modern streets of Turka. Though Preston's mother died in 1982, it took him 10 years to get to Turka, which had been a closed Soviet city until Ukraine established its independence. The 19-year-old Feiga (later Halina) Wind, daughter of a local ; watchmaker, had been chosen by the last three Jewish families to be " the one to escape in 1942. She lived for 14 months in a sewer in Lvov, Poland, before being liberated by, ' the Allies, and soon emigrated to &, ; new life in America. In Turka, Preston discovers the old Jewish cemetery on a hill overlooking the town. It is in ruins, serving as a local cowpath, with headstones chipped and falling over, some graves opened with bones ' strewn nearby. There, on Yom Kip-pur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, Preston and his wife listen to a tape recording of his sister chanting prayers. "We stood there as prayers filled the countryside," he says, "overlooking the town of Turka, a town of no more Jews." Despite this somber beginning, Preston eventually finds some solace in the person of Victor Lesyk, the unofficial Turka town historian. Lesyk guides Preston through the 3 ' - r .lie SpedsHze Ln Kitchens, Berths, Refacing, FormkoT,Conan Ccuntertops & Other Custom Units JEAT SAVINGS I An Vii.L.Mii D D iL- i tv fviibiicriid or Bums i on uispiay 1CQank Financing : 'timber UKBA, . f I a Til O (?tB Cirr Designers ere Lher.Kd, Insured & Ccrtiftea with cvzr iyii a t ir-r rf n old Jewish quarter, recounting stories of its residents, even showing off some of his own family heirlooms: clocks and a barometer that came from the shop owned by Preston's grandfather. Eventually, they reach the basement where Feiga and her family hid from the Nazis, the home above destroyed and replaced after the war. Producer Janine Jaquet Biden makes elegant use of Preston's sometimes awkward video footage. Recent Channel 12 documentaries have often been too simplistic and spare. 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