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Marilee J. Layman

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06:46 pm: Watermarks
This is a difficult movie to watch. The elderly women in it were in a swim club in the 1930s, in Vienna, Austria. Many of the places in Vienna started keeping Jews out, and the Jews built a pool building, the Hakoah, a pool that didn't let Christians in.

The swim team went to a Jewish competition in Palestine and won a lot of medals. One of the women came home and told her father that she wanted to emigrate there and he sarcastically agreed with her, as if she ever would. As it happens, their family went on an illegal boat and made it to Palestine. All the women had to get out of Austria, in one way or another, many in illegal ways.

One, the best swimmer in Austria, refused to go to the Berlin Olympics (where we see the Nazi and US flags next to each other), and Austria took all her records and awards away. They gave them back, with an apology, in 1960.

Most of the women are interviewed in their homes (subtitles) -- Israel, Egypt, London, and the US -- and we saw them arrive back in Vienna after 70 years. One, taking a taxi from the airport, is told by the driver that she's non-native because she's Jewish. Later she says her family was in Vienna for 400 years; how could they be non-native?

The women, some with spouses, one with grand-daughter, one with assistant (she became blind), had dinner where a young man sang some songs that were very uncomfortable for Jews.

When we finally see them back in their pool (and boy, that's a great pool and building), in new Hakoah swimsuits, we only see a few minutes of them swimming. The real story's in what happened to them in Austria as Hitler gradually took over.



Date:May 3rd, 2010 09:05 am (UTC)

Austrian Jews

My mother was an Austrian Jew who fled Austria the day after Hitler marched in triumph through the streets of Vienna. She never returned - never wanted to. She may have known some of these women as she was growing up. We must never forget...

- Sandra
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Date:May 3rd, 2010 08:18 pm (UTC)

Re: Austrian Jews

Yes, some of the women were not sure they wanted to go back, but seeing most of their old teammates (the others had died) was enough to get them there.

The first member of our family in the US, as far as we know, came from Prussia to fight for the UK in the Revolutionary War. We had ancestors who fought on both sides of the Civil War. But none of that is like what happened with people who followed Hitler.
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