In the unforgettable documentary Aida’s Secrets, the discovery of records from World War II sparks a family’s quest for answers as two brothers separated as babies and dispersed to different continents reunite with each other and their elderly mother, who hid more from them than they ever could have imagined.
Izak Szewelwicz was born in Germany’s Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp in 1945 and was sent by his mother, Aida, to Israel to be raised by foster parents. Though Izak was able to form a relationship with his birth mother, his life was turned upside down years later when he located not only his birth certificate, but also proof that he had a brother he never knew existed.
Aida’s Secrets’ filmmakers Alon and Shaul Schwarz set out to find answers for Izak, uncovering questions of re-shuffled identities, resilience, and the traumatic plight of displaced persons. The detective work culminates in Izak and his brother Shep—both nearly 70 years old—finally meeting in Canada before traveling to a nursing home in Quebec to introduce Shep to his elderly mother, Aida, for the first time.
“It looks like a very unique story, and it’s probably a world record of a 70-year reunion for three people, but the story of finding your father, or being born in the DP (Displaced Person) camps is shared by many,” says Aida’s Secrets co-director Alon Schwarz on the universality of the Szewelwicz story. “There were 6000 people in the Bergen-Belsen DP camp, and 1300 babies were born in the first year. That’s a world record in births. Kids come up to me and they’re 70 years old now and tell me that they were there.”
.Commentary with directors Alon Schwarz and Shaul Schwarz
.Filmmaker Q&A at New York JCC
.Family archive gallery
Aida’s Secrets DVD-$29.95