Jerusalem Filmmaker Emanuel Fund discusses the Holocaust

The son of Holocaust survivors from Germany, Rund grew up in Jerusalem in the shadow of the Shoah.

Emanuel Rund (photo credit: Courtesy)
Emanuel Rund
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Ahead of Yom Hashoah on April 8, I met Jerusalem filmmaker Emanuel Rund, 75, who in 1994 came up with the idea of marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27 – the date in 1945 on which Russian forces liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The son of Holocaust survivors from Germany, Rund grew up in Jerusalem in the shadow of the Shoah. “When I was a boy, my father took me to Martef HaShoah, the first Holocaust museum in the world established on Mount Zion in 1949, where I am still active today,” he says.
He became obsessed with the Shoah, skipping school to attend the trial of Adolf Eichmann. He served in the IDF, was among the founding team of Israel Television in 1968, and branched out into filmmaking, producing 240 films on a variety of topics, 30 on the horrors of the Holocaust to the revival of Israel (“from Shoah to Tekumah,” he says.)
“I came to Germany in 1985 to make my first film, and I realized that the Germans didn’t have a day to remember the victims of the Holocaust, so I put it on my to-do list,” Rund recalls, adding that when in 1994 he brought young Germans to Israel and filmed their encounters, a woman told him on camera, “I’m ashamed that in my country we don’t have a memorial day for the Shoah.”
When he went back to Germany, serving 15 Jewish communities in the role of rabbi and cantor and sitting on a Jewish-Christian relations board, he pitched the idea to the German president, Roman Herzog, in 1994. “I got a message on January 3, 1996, from the office of the president that he had adopted my initiative, and was going to proclaim January 27 as Holocaust memorial day,” he says. “European countries picked up the idea, and with the help of an Israeli diplomat, it was brought in 2005 to the UN, which proclaimed International Holocaust Remembrance Day.”
Rund has been a guest of honor at the German Parliament’s annual ceremony, and on January 27, 2019, was invited to sit in the front row with survivors at the UN ceremony. The highlight was an address from Inge Auerbacher, the protagonist in his 1990 Oscar-nominated film, All Jews Out, which chronicles the complicity of the residents of the tiny German town of Goeppingen in the deportation of the Auerbacher family to the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
After his screening of All Jews Out in Los Angeles in 1990 as part of the Academy Awards rules, a petite lady particularly moved by the film invited him to her kosher restaurant named Milky Way.
“Her name was Leah Adler, and she told me that her son, Stevie, made films as well,” he says. “I told her that I hadn’t heard of a filmmaker in Hollywood named Stevie Adler. I almost fell off my chair when she said her son was Steven Spielberg.”  
Rund asked why the talented Spielberg had not made any films with Jewish themes, like the Shoah, and she said, “I’m meeting Stevie today and I’m going to give him an ultimatum: ‘You must make a Jewish film!’”
Rund adds: “When Spielberg received the Oscar for Schindler’s List in 1993, he called his mother his “lucky charm.” And I said, ‘Hallelujah, I made it!’”  
Before returning to live in Israel in 2019, Rund spent many years in Germany and the US, working with Jewish organizations and counseling survivors. Over the past half a century, he also built up an archive of film footage, photographs and documents used in his Shoah films. “I hope that an institution will take it to share with the public for research and educational purposes,” says Rund, who is also a motivational public speaker, pointing out that he can be contacted at