« June - 2020 »



THURSDAY, MAY 16 2019, 07:30 PM

“They touch the open wound, thus often causing the victims to be ashamed to be victims. That’s the problem and that’s the trick the rulers use; they humiliate them to such an extent that they feel ashamed and then turn them against their own people.” — Peter Handke

Shadows of Shame is a documentary by the Austrian filmmaker and journalist Sabina Zwitter-Grilc. Presenting the gripping stories of three generations of Carinthian Slovenes, Roma and a Jewish family, the film shows how victims of National Socialism are turned into perpetrators and how they are pressured into seeing themselves as being responsible for their own suffering. The inflicted wounds manifest themselves in unique traumas which are often unconsciously passed on to their children and grandchildren. The second and third survivor generations therefore think and behave in a very special way. Shadows of Shame opens the victims’ souls to us and reveal new and often surprising insights into a history we thought we are already familiar with.

The film screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker, and the New York–based artist Lily Brett, who is the daughter of Holocaust survivors herself. The discussion will be moderated by Professor Ethel Brooks (Rutgers) and introduced by Hannah Lessing, Secretary General of the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism.


Lily Brett (born to Polish parents as Lilijahne Brajtsztajn) is a New York City based Australian novelist, essayist and poet. She lived in Melbourne from 1948 to 1989 before moving to New York City. In Australia she had an early career as a pop music journalist before turning to writing poems, prose fiction and non-fiction. As a daughter of Holocaust survivors, her works include depictions of family life including living in Melbourne and New York. Her fictional novels include Things Could Be Worse (1990), Just Like That (1994), Too Many Men (2001) and You Gotta Have Balls (2005).

Ethel Brooks is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Women's and Gender Studies and Sociology at Rutgers University. Brooks is the author of Unraveling the Garment Industry: Transnational Organizing and Women’s Work (University of Minnesota Press, 2007) which received the award for Outstanding Book for 2010 from the Society for the Study of Social Problems. She has contributed articles to a number of academic journals as well as book chapters including in Sweatshop USA: The American Sweatshop in Historical and Global Perspective, Eds. Daniel A Bender and Richard Greenwald, (Routledge, 2003) and Sociology Confronts the Holocaust: Memories and Identities in Jewish Diasporas, Eds. Judith Gerson and Diane L. Wolf (Duke University Press, 2007). Her op-eds on the expulsion of Romani people in various European countries have recently appeared on “The Guardian”. In 2011 Prof. Brooks was awarded a prestigious Fulbright-University of the Arts London Distinguished Chair Award.

Hannah Lessing was born in Vienna. She studied at the Vienna University of Economics and Business and joined an Austrian bank as a member of the management staff in 1990. In 1995 she became secretary general of the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism. She looks after some 30,000 survivors, seeking reconciliation for them with the state of Austria. Lessing also heads the Austrian delegation in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). In 2001, she became a member of the Austrian delegation at the negotiations on the Washington Agreement on compensation. In addition, she is secretary general of the Fund for Restoration of Jewish Cemeteries in Austria and was also involved in the redesign of the Austrian exhibition at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Sabina Zwitter-Grilc is a Carinthian-Slovene editor, film journalist and documentary film maker whose work reports on and engages with Austrian minorities. After her degree in journalism and Russian studies in Vienna, which also included studies in Akron, OH, in France and in Moscow, she began working as editor at the minority desk of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF). The documentary Shadows of Shame (“Schatten der Scham”) is a project in partial fulfillment of her PhD thesis at the Alpen-Adria-University in Klagenfurt/Celovec, which she has completed in 2019.

Image Credit: Marco Zwitter