on Earth” a Place to Survive
“No Place on Earth” is as serious as “Big Wedding” is silly. This is a true story of surviving the Holocaust in a remote corner of western
Ukraine, underground, for a year and a half..
In 1942, when
invaded Russia, the Ukraine was part of the USSR. Esther
Stermer was a mother determined to survive with her children at any cost. She
and fellow Ukrainian Jews discovered the passageway to a large cave, and it was
there they hid for a year and a half while war raged above.
The cave was rediscovered by an American spelunker and amateur detective Chris Nicola, who discovered clothes, shoes, pottery and other evidences of human habitation in the vast cave system. Nicola’s investigation uncovered the amazing story of the survival of 38 men, women and children from late 1942 until liberation in March, 1944.
The story is recounted in a memoir titled “We Fight to Survive,” by Esther Stermer.
Nicola and film writer-director Janet Tobias found survivors of the Stermer and Dodyk families in
and offered them the opportunity to revisit the dark refuge they had left 67
Tobias recorded remembrances by Saul and Sam Stermer and Sonia and Simia Dodyk. All were children then, but are elderly now. Combined with Nicola’s detective tale and dramatic recreations by actors, the tale of survival is dramatized. “No Place” is literally dark. The interviews are barely lit, perhaps to simulate the darkness of the cave.
“No Place” is not as exciting or heart-wrenching as many Holocaust stories, but it is a remarkable account of the human spirit in a lesson one must never forget.