Arbeit Macht Frei, Four Million Bullets ~ The Fight for Survival
By: Beth D’Amato – January, 2017
Treblinka, Buchenwald, Dachau and Auschwitz… The mere mention of these places should make every human’s blood run cold. The horrors that went on within the walls of those extermination camps in Germany and Poland during WW II were unimaginable. Why did some Jews survive the death camps while others did not? And more importantly, why did Jews allow themselves to be taken without a fight and led like lambs to the slaughter are questions Jeff Hoffman is asking.
Hoffman, a Jewish gentleman who grew up in Marblehead, MA is a cinematographer and producer who’s making a documentary highlighting the extraordinary bravery of the people of Israel after the atrocities of WWII. Hoffman’s interest and curiosity about the war and the Holocaust led to his extensive research. During this time he visited Canada (where he has dual citizenship with America) the Czech Republic, Jordan, Israel and Switzerland. His film highlights the true story of a bullet factory built in Israel after the war. The factory was built underground and hidden below a Kibbutz. It was in operation from 1946 to 1948. The Jews who worked in the factory day after day, month after month were well aware that if caught – they would be put to death.
What spurred the making of this documentary were the contents of a cardboard box left to him by his grandfather. Hoffman’s grandfather, Leo Quint was a Zionist who immigrated to Newton, MA from Russia in the 1920’s. He left his grandson a box of old 8mm films he shot during the 1950s in Israel. Among the many reels of footage, it was discovered that Jeff’s grandfather was responsible for bringing surplus work trucks to Israel to use as much needed ambulances.
Hoffman had this footage and got to thinking – “there’s a story here.’” The story is now taking shape as the documentary entitled “4 Million Bullets.”
Known as Israel’s Founding Father and the first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion along with Golda Meir (Israel’s fourth Prime Minister) went to New York in 1945 on a fundraising mission. They knew there was going to be an eventual war involving Israel before it was founded. The very recent past reminded them that they could not just sit and do nothing. They would not be led away again. This time, they will fight. What they needed was an army if they were going to have a country, as Hoffman recounts the history, but how do you build an army for a country that’s yet to be formed?
They had to somehow get the cash needed to buy aircraft, arms and ships. With the assistance of Rudolph Sonneborn, Meir and Gurion met with several, very rich American Jewish businessmen who funded the equipment needed along with a war surplus that was being sold off after WWII around the country to help buy much needed supplies. All of this had to be secretly shipped to Israel. With the help of Sonneborn, they were able to raise $190 million dollars by July 9th 1945. This was a huge undertaking. There were countless people involved in this massive, undercover mission to help Israel. Nothing deterred them. Not even the looming certainty of death.
The ammunition manufactured in the underground bullet factory contributed to the establishment of the state of Israel. The bullet factory is now a museum open to the public. Known as Machon Ayalon, the factory stands as a testament to the bravery of all involved and those who died for the cause. The title of this column is: Arbeit Macht Frei. This is a German phrase meaning “work sets you free” and was ironically the actual signage hanging over the main entrance of the death camp, Auschwitz.
We fight every day and will continue to fight so places like Treblinka, Buchenwald, Dachau and Auschwitz… never come into existence again.
A personal message from Jeff Hoffman:
Through the eyewitness accounts of the people directly involved, present for and participating in key events, it is our hope that the world will learn the compelling truth behind this vital moment in history. This project is one that must be completed as soon as possible, firstly due to the age of the participants in the film, and because of the climate of anti-Israel sentiment that pervades the global media today.
The timing has never been more crucial, and we must complete production while these people are still with us. Our goal is for this film to be a part of every church, synagogue, school, and library collection throughout Canada, the U.S., Europe and Israel, ultimately reaching as far as possible to share these incredible tales of bravery and hope with the world. Please consider helping us make this a reality.
For more information or to donate a tax deductible contribution please visit http://www.squashhouse.net/4-million-bullets Click on the Contact/Donate Button
Thank you for your support,
Director: Jeff Hoffman Producers: Divvy Ahronheim and Jeff Hoffman