Edith Eger was the subject of a recent Emmy-winning documentary | Credit: Holocaust Education Film Foundation

Charleston’s Holocaust Education Film Foundation brought home a regional Emmy on Dec. 11 for its recent PBS-aired Holocaust documentary.

I Danced for the Angel of Death: The Dr. Edith Eva Eger Story premiered in April of 2021 on PBS stations nationwide, including in South Carolina. The film follows the story of Edith Eva Eger, who survived her time in three concentration camps during World War II. Eger even had two encounters with Dr. Josef Mengele, the so-called “Angel of Death, a notorious Nazi physician who conducted inhumane experiments on prisoners at Auschwitz. Eger kept quiet about her ordeal for decades following her liberation in 1945, but has since come to terms with her history and has been able to heal from it.

“Dr. Edith Eger is a true rock star,” said Ron Small of Charleston, the documentary’s director and recipient of the Emmy honor. “We are all very proud to have been given the honor of telling her story for future generations.”

I Danced for the Angel of Death is the fourth documentary from the Holocaust Education Film Foundation. Others include: From the Holocaust to Hollywood: The Robert Clary Story, Surviving Birkenau: The Dr. Susan Spatz Story and To Auschwitz and Back: The Joe Engel Story. This year’s Emmy is the first award for any HEFF film.

The Holocaust Education Film Foundation (HEFF) started work in 2017 with the production of the Joe Engel doc. The goal of the foundation is to create an interactive online community that keeps the stories of the Holocaust and its survivors alive for the next generations. The documentaries and online portal allow audiences and communities to connect with and learn about survivors firsthand or through recollections of direct descendants.

Trailer for I Danced with the Angel of Death:

The Emmy for I Danced for the Angel of Death is the first for director Small, a founder of HEFF and owner of Anchor Media Group Inc., the foundation’s production arm. Small has worked in television since 1980 in various capacities, but never experienced anything like an Emmy win before.

“I was truly stunned when I heard the news,” said Small in an email to the City Paper. “It really is an honor. I know that sounds like the standard response, but this was a first for me and I didn’t expect to win.”

Small and his team started work on the Eger story in 2019. The team conducted interviews with Eger and were preparing for a Charleston premiere to be attended by the documentary’s subject. But the 2020 pandemic shut down those plans.

“All the donors went away,” said Small, “And I was sitting around … wondering how we were going to make this happen.” 

Fortunately, a collection of big last minute donors came through: Stan Greenspon and Talli Dippold from the Stan Greenspon Holocaust and Social Justice Education Center, along with former Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling. These donors, with friends and family, helped finish the project.

The documentary features interviews with Eger, as well as Army veteran Alan Moskin. Moskin liberated Gunskirchen Lager, the last concentration camp where Eger was held. Small and his team sent a cinematographer, clad in personal protective equipment, to Moskin’s home to film the interviews, with Small asking questions via Zoom.

“His story is breathtaking,” said Small. “Alan is simply remarkable.”

Moskin, who became a lawyer and even attended the Nuremberg trials, is being considered as a subject for a future HEFF documentary.

Small is overwhelmed by the process and the success of the project.

“It’s critical that I must mention the incredible team of professionals I work with. We are a very tight group and are responsible for hundreds of hours of content around the world. For this alone, this Emmy is for all of us, not just me. Without the very long list of friends and colleagues, this project would never have made the impact that it obviously has.”

The full documentary is available on Amazon, Hoopla (free with Charleston County library card), Vudu.

Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.