Segments in this Video

The Zaidmans (05:14)


Fred Zaidman describes what it was like growing up with parents who survived the Holocaust; they met at Bergen-Belsen after being liberated. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1950 and Fred was temporarily taken in by someone else because his parents could not afford two children.

Family Ancestry (06:26)

Barry Levine considered the Zaidmans his second set of parents. Fred experienced his parents trauma more than his brother Martin. Fred has a passion for helping others.

Link to the Past (05:13)

Fred visits Holocaust survivors because that is where he feels comfortable. He is searching for a photograph of his grandparents. He meets with a new branch of cousins from his father's side.

The Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute (03:30)

Fred flies to Warsaw, Poland seeking information about his family. Documents were not typically accompanied by photographs before World War II.

Bedzin, Poland (02:33)

At the Polish Heritage Museum in Warsaw, Fred tries to understand what he hopes to find by learning about his family. He visits his father's hometown and attends a Shabbat dinner.

The Bedzin Ghetto (03:50)

Bedzin community leader Adam Szydlowski will help Fred find information about his father's family. Officials moved Jews to the ghetto before sending them to Auschwitz in 1942.

Radomsko Archives (04:54)

Szydlowski and Fred search through documents for information about the Zaidman family. They visit the site where Fred's family home once stood and the Radomsko Jewish Cemetery.

Dabrowa-Gornicza (04:36)

Fred visits his mother's hometown and is disappointed to see new buildings; he vandalizes a door. Fred visits the Jewish graveyard and cleans up a headstone.

Auschwitz-Birkenau (03:08)

Zaidman visits the site of the former concentration camp where his grandparents were killed and his mother was kept for four years. He finds the names of two uncles and an aunt in the archives.

Tel Aviv, Israel (04:18)

At the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, a Holocaust historian describes the elimination of the Jewish population of Bedzin, Poland as spiritual and physical murder. Fred asks questions about Auschwitz and learns that his uncle's wife survived.

Kibbutz Einat (03:15)

On his visit to Israel, Fred meets his second cousin, Itay Beery. He gets to see a photograph of his great-uncle but cannot find pictures of his grandparents.

Netanya, Israel (02:52)

Fred meets his second cousin Nitza Newhouse. She has a picture of his grandmother's sister.

Bergen-Belsen, Germany (05:15)

Historian Katja Seybold gives Fred insight into what happened to his parents after they were liberated. They met at the camp and married quickly. His father's family was moved to the ghetto before being sent to Auschwitz.

End of a Generation (04:48)

Fred's aunt Miriam died in 2017. He flies to Atlanta, Georgia to meet his second cousin Adam Markowitz. Their mothers were first cousins; they had very different childhoods. Fred finds a picture of his parents and aunt at Bergen-Belsen.

The Temple, Atlanta (03:33)

Minister Steven Reece founded the Matzevah Foundation to restore destroyed cemeteries as an act of reconciliation between the Jewish Community, the Christian Church, and Poland. He and journalist Jan Jaben-Eilon teach a class about Poland before and after the Holocaust.

Caring for the Dead (10:30)

Fred and Reece travel to Radomsko; Germans burned down the prayer house but left the 3,000 graves. They locate the graves of Fred's family members and he cleans them up by hand. Fifty Polish gentiles who helped the Jews were buried nearby.

Gravestone Destruction (03:33)

Fred returns to the Radomsko Archives to get the signatures of his grandparents. He returns to the cemetery to document anti-Semitic graffiti. He notifies the gatekeeper and the police.

Ghetto Records (03:41)

Fred meets with Szydlowski at the Katowice State Archives, but does not get new information about the Zaidmans. A Dabrowa-Gornicza gives him a former address of his great-uncle. Germans destroyed 97% of his family's records.

Back in Bedzin (01:59)

Reece and Szydlowski receive the "Preserving Memory Award" for stewards of Jewish heritage. Fred hangs a photograph of his parents on the wall of Szydlowski's cafe in Poland.

Credits: The Presence of their Absence (01:14)

Credits: The Presence of their Absence

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

The Presence of their Absence

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This film follows Fred Zaidman on his journey to trace his inherited trauma. Armed with only scant clues from his late parents, who had survived concentration camps in Poland and Germany, Fred ventures into the unknown to tell his story for this first time. With helpers in Poland, at Yad Vashem in Israel, at Bergen-Belsen in Germany, and from an unlikely source—a Baptist minister in Atlanta—Fred finds his roots, unshackles his pain, and reconstructs his future.

Length: 85 minutes

Item#: BVL215635

ISBN: 978-1-63722-238-6

Copyright date: ©2019

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.