In the summer of 2018, Ina Navazelskis, Program Coordinator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Washington, conducted a six-hour oral history interview with Jonas Mekas and asked him what he remembered about the Holocaust in Lithuania.
Mekas, born in 1922 in the Lithuanian village of Semeniškiai in the municipality of Biržai, was at the time one of the last eyewitnesses to Lithuania's turbulent and bloody history in the 1930s and '40s. Some 75 years after the events, the interview makes an attempt to reconstruct Mekas' memories of his youth as accurately as possible. Only six months before his death, Jonas Mekas recounts not only the haunting rural life and his reasons for fleeing at the time, shortly before the end of the war, but also the anti-Semitic atrocities committed by the German occupiers. Experiences that were formative for Meka's later artistic work.
Meka's narrative forms the background for the panel discussion with Ina Navazelskis, the historian Christoph Dieckmann and the literary scholar Claudia Sinnig (at 8.45pm on 18 January)
The interview film attempts to provide a historical context on the first two days of the program for the first 20 years of the life of the nearly one-hundred-year-old filmmaker, who only began to artistically process his childhood memories in exile.