Heartwarming Portrait of the Two Elder Polish Musicians of the ‘Holocaust Survivor Band’ in South Florida

In 2015, filmmaker Joshua Z. Weinstein created a heartwarming documentary about two elder musicians named Saul Dreier and Reuwen (“Ruby”) Sosnowicz. The two men separately survived the concentration camps of the Holocaust and eventually immigrated to America from Poland. They both settled in South Florida where they met for the first time. Upon finding out their commonalities, particularly a love of playing music, Saul and Ruby established themselves as the “Holocaust Survivor Band”, with Saul on drums and Ruby on piano and accordion. The pair mostly plays traditional Ashkenazic Klezmer music – the songs of their long-ago youth that offered them hope when there was very little to be found.

…Mr. Dreier, 89, decided to start a klezmer band, drawing upon the music he grew up with in Poland. Playing the drums, he teamed up with Mr. Sosnowicz, an 85-year-old Polish accordionist… As they reinvent themselves, Mr. Dreier and Mr. Sosnowicz never forget their past. It is life before Hitler, their youth, that they most want to remember. For them, music is catharsis. The Holocaust Survivor Band summons the bittersweet memories of childhood, but more than that, it is a celebration of life.

The Atlantic spoke with Weinstein about how much has changed in the four years since the film was released.

When I first made this film, in 2015, the world felt like a different place,” he told me. “The Holocaust somehow felt like a distant nightmare—something that could never repeat itself. …Today, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the filmmaker believes that Dreier and Sosnowicz’s story is more important than ever. ‘All survivors’ stories of religious intolerance and hate need to be shared and need to be remembered,” Weinstein said. “We need to remember Christchurch and we need to remember Auschwitz.’

Saul Dreier has embarked on a new project in which he travels the world to remind people that an atrocity like the Holocaust should never happen again.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.