Big Sonia is a touching, emotionally driven post-Holocaust documentary following Sonia Warshawski and her family through the haunting and lingering reality as a World War II survivor of Auschwitz.
These days, Sonia tours the Kansas City area and speaks about her traumatic experiences to school children, radio stations, and prison inmates. Despite the lighthearted and upbeat nature of the film (Sonia is truly larger than life), it is evident that the burden of intergenerational trauma weighs heavily on the shoulders of Sonia’s three children.
Big Sonia exemplifies that a family's trauma can live on for generations. Not only must you carry the weight of a horrific family history, you are also forced to manage the anxieties and knowledge that is passed on to you.
“The hard part is watching your mother relive these moments, and then watching her pain,” explains Morrie, Sonia's son
All three of the children agree that being second-generation Holocaust survivors has always made them feel “different” in some capacity. From an early age, they became acutely aware of the evil that exists in the world.
Though they did not experience Nazism themselves, they live with the weight of the first-hand accounts of suffering every day and have inherited the history.
In addition to the bigger implications for second-generation Holocaust survivors, Big Sonia demonstrates the minor details of that trauma that aren’t normally discussed.
Though these instances may have less immediate influence for those dealing with intergenerational trauma, they do accumulate to greatly contribute to the psychological weight influencing each proceeding generation.
“I got to an age where you could start having friends come over to spend the night. I never wanted to have anybody over to that house. I would always go to their house…my father used to yell in his sleep in the middle of the night. And I mean painful yelling,” explains Debbie, the youngest child of the Warshawski family.
Debbie mentions that although her father was often one to joke about his past experiences in the death camps, his dreams illustrated the pain he truly went through.
Morrie explains that part of the burden the next generation grapples with is that the children of survivors are the rebirth of the family that was taken from them. Though this creates an extremely strong sense of family, it also inflicts heavy pressure on the children to fill in the space of what was stolen away.
Big Sonia explores the impact of intergenerational trauma and provides a shining insight into the experiences of the Warshawski family.
Though all three of Sonia’s children are deeply damaged and influenced by their parents’ experiences, they have all dealt with their inherited challenges in different ways and are part of the generation that continues sharing Sonia’s story and ensuring that such a cruel history can exist only in the past.
If you are looking for a resource to easily provide both high educational value and the fascination of firsthand accounts from a Holocaust survivor, Big Sonia will prove a perfect tool for your classroom.
Film is a powerful way for your students to learn and relate to the history you are teaching; they experience Sonia’s story on the big screen and learn from her as if she were speaking directly to them.
If you’d like to bring Big Sonia to your classroom to help navigate teaching intergenerational trauma, are interested in a public screening, or would just like to learn more about the film, please give us a call at (732) 321-0711 or click the button below.
We’d be happy to explore teaching materials, suggested conversation topics, and additional films that will aid in your Holocaust related lesson plans.
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