WELSH film and TV producer Llion Roberts has been “obsessed”

WELSH film and TV producer Llion Roberts has been “obsessed” with the Holocaust for the past 16 years.
Llion, whose Holocaust film, Destination Unknown, premiered in London last night and will be screened around the country next week, first visited Auschwitz-Birkenau in 2001.
He told me: “I was curious. I just wanted to know more about the Holocaust.”
Llion arrived at the concentration camp on a very cold winter’s day.
He said: “We were freezing. I thought of the inmates who were in their striped uniform with very limited protection.”
At Auschwitz, Llion saw a picture of a 13-year-old girl with a shaven head called Christina, who, Llion said, “was the image of my 13-year-old daughter. It took the wind out of me. I needed to gather more information about the Holocaust”.
A year later, Llion was searching for a technical item for his BBC work. The only place he could obtain it was from a New York company, which the producer was not able to contact for a few weeks.
When he eventually managed to get through, he was told that it had been closed over the Rosh Hashana holidays.
The conversation then progressed to the Holocaust.
Company owner Mark Hersly told Llion that his father had survived Auschwitz’s notorious Block 11, which was called the death block.
Minutes later, Llion was on a conference call with Mark and his father, who told Llion that if he flew to New York, he would arrange for him to interview survivors.
Llion took up the offer, interviewing survivors and taking them back on visits to the death camps.
He told me: “It became an obsession.”
It took over Llion’s life so much that at one point he was suffering from panic attacks.
He said: “Everyone asks me if I’m Jewish. I am not. But we are all primarily human beings. It’s about humanity.”
Llion’s 400 hours of Holocaust testimonies from 30 survivors living in America began to be transformed into an 80-minute film after he met film director Claire Ferguson in 2013.
Claire, who specialises in filming the effects of trauma, concentrated on 12 of the survivors, all living in America, who were interviewed by Llion.
She said: “I wanted to concentrate on how you can have a life after such pain. It was extraordinary to have testimony from people in their 80s or early 90s, telling stories of which some had never spoken about previously.
“What struck me was what they were prepared to share after they had buried it in the past.
“It was very unique material. I wanted to focus on the breadth of experience that Holocaust survivors had had, but at the same time on their unique narratives.”
The film begins with shots of Plaszow and Mauthausen survivor Ed Mosberg, dressed in concentration camp inmate uniform wheeling his disabled wife Cesia in a wheelchair on the March of the Living.
Ed, a New Jersey property developer and philanthropist, has spoken frequently about his experiences, but Cesia never has.
But at the end of the film, she begins to talk about her nightly Holocaust nightmares which have almost made her suicidal.
The film also contains interviews with Mietek Pemper, who compiled Schindler’s list, while working for the notorious Amon Goth, the Plaszow commandant, Helen Sternlicht, who worked for Goth in his villa, and partisan fighter Frank Blaichman, among others.
Watch an exclusive clip from Destination Unknown below or visit destinationunknownmovie.com to find where the film is being screened.
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