At the end of my interview with Joan Waldbaum, champion swimmer (See this month’s Profiles), she told me to rent a copy of Watermarks, a wonderful award-winning documentary about a small group of Jewish women who swam competitively. They were part of a Jewish Sports Club in Austria, started when Austria banned Jews from sports clubs as part of their anti-semitic campaign.
The documentary is actually a group of wonderful interviews by the producer. The women are now in their eighties, but still feisty. Each of them left when Germany took over Austria before the U.S. entered WWII.
Their stories are quite moving, and at the same time, very empowering. At the end, after all the interviews, the women fly to Austria to swim in the original pool where they first competed. One of the most decorated swimmers refused to go to the 1938 Olympics because they were held in Berlin under Hitler’s regime. She lost all future chances of competing and all her titles and records were expunged by Austria. Only in 1995 were her swimming records reinstated.
If you are interested in seeing a story of courage and challenge, go to your local library and ask for Watermarks. You should find it heart warming and heart wrenching and definitely worth viewing. For more information, check out the website http://www.kino.com/watermarks/