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A New Documentary Film about Haviva Reick -- Return to a Burning House


World Premiere November 20, 2014, in the cinema of the Museum SNU, Slovak National Uprising Museum, Banská Bystrica, Slovakia

Return to a Burning House

Return to a Burning House is a documentary about Haviva Reick, created by The Slovak National Uprising Museum in Banská Bystrica and Anzio s.r.o. production company. The world premiere is scheduled for November 20, 2014, in the cinema of the Museum SNU, commemorating the 70th anniversary of Haviva's murder by the Nazis. Afterward, it will be released internationally. With the story of this young heroic woman, who returned to Slovakia and sacrificed her young life to save the lives of others during the Slovak National Uprising, the organizers are trying to focus attention on events in Slovak history when the country was under fascist influence, as well as the consequences. These could materialize again at any time. The documentary is part of a broad international educational and awareness-raising project called Haviva -- Return to European Remembrance. The joint project of the Museum SNU and Anzio s.r.o. is implemented with funding from the Europe for Citizens program, sponsored by the European Commission.

Remember the Women Institute, a co-producer of the film, is working with the Consul General of the Slovak Republic in New York, as well as the filmmaker Anna Grusková and producer Mirka Molnar Lachka, to organize an appropriate memorial event in New York City, which will include the USA premiere of Return to the Burning House.

Watch the trailer and download a brochure (PDF 2.8MB).

Haviva Reick Books

Get more information.
Documentary Return to a Burning House: [email protected]

The website of Museum of Slovak National Uprising, the film's coproducer, has information about the project "Haviva Reick-Return to European Remembrance."

A New Book in English about Haviva Reick

In connection with events to honor Haviva Reick, we held discussions with people in Israel and in Slovakia who are working to preserve her memory. In Israel we met with Tehila and Zeev Ofer, who wrote a biography in Hebrew about Reick, entitled Haviva. This important book by two former Palmach members, the result of research, field trips, and interviews, is now available in English for the first time. Entitled Haviva Reick: A Kibbutz Pioneer's Mission and Fall behind Nazi Lines, the new book not only details Reick's bravery on her mission but also tells the complete story of her life. Reick was also a member of the Palmach before she left on her mission.

Background about Haviva Reick

Haviva Reick

Haviva Reick in her British Army uniform.

The year 2014 is the perfect time to honor and remember Slovakian and Israeli heroine Haviva Reick, because she was born in June 1914 (in Nadabula, and grew up in Radvan, a suburb of Banská Bystrica). She made aliyah to pre-Israel Palestine and was a founder of Kibbutz Maanit. She was murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators in November 1944. Thus 2014 marks 100 years since her birth, and 70 since her death. Haviva Reick was a member of the Palmach and part of the program of the British Mandate to parachute young members of the pre-Israel Yishuv into some Nazi-occupied countries in Europe. During her mission she rescued Allied prisoners, helped the Slovakian uprising, and organized Jews to survive. (For an excellent detailed and comprehensive understanding of Haviva's story, read the new English biography by Tehila and Zeev Ofer.)

For more information, see "Remembering the heroism of Haviva Reick" (The Times of Israel)

"100 Candles for Haviva": A Ceremony in the Garden

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Haviva Reick (1914-1944), the Slovak National Uprising Museum (Museum SNU) in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia, has created a garden in her memory and recently held a special ceremony there. Haviva Reick was a young Jewish woman from Banská Bystrica who left to help build a kibbutz in pre-Israel Palestine. After training as a parachutist by the British Mandate's intelligence service, she returned to Slovakia in September 1944, to fight against Nazism and help save the lives of persecuted people. She was captured and murdered by the Nazis in November 1944. She played an important role in the anti-fascist struggle and was killed during the Slovak National Uprising. Although she is regarded as a national hero in Israel, her heroism in Slovakia has been little known there.

A ceremony entitled "100 Candles for Haviva" took place on Sunday, July 20, 2014, in the Haviva Reick Garden, located on the premises of Museum SNU. Apart from the hundred candles, a rich and interesting cultural program was presented. A 1940s atmosphere was created, enhanced with original recordings of seasoned, long-forgotten songs and a live band. Archival photographs of Haviva, a resistance fighter and, above all, a young non-conventional woman full of ideals and unfulfilled plans, were projected onto the building's walls.

The commemoration of the 100th anniversary of her birth marks the beginning of a series of events dedicated to the milestones and challenges of the life of Haviva Reick, born in Banská Bystrica. Apart from the garden, the Museum SNU will also dedicate a statue to Haviva, to be unveiled on September 8, 2014, during a three-week festival of Jewish culture.

The 100th anniversary of Haviva Reick's birth (July 22, 2014) and the 70th anniversary of her violent death (November 20, 1944) are serving as the occasions for a series of cultural and awareness-raising events for schools and the general public in Slovakia. An international conference, a series of lectures and discussions, debates with experts, happenings, and open-air events, as well as screenings of the Return to the Burning House film, are planned.

Haviva Reick: 100 CandlesA Salute to Haviva Reick

100 candles line the walkway at the ceremony at Slovak National Uprising Museum. (Photo: Anna Gruskova)

A salute to Haviva Reick. (Photo: Anna Gruskova)

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