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By Phil Hall | January 9, 2014

Dana Doron, an Israeli physician, and Uriel Sinai, a photojournalist, teamed up to direct this moving documentary on Auschwitz survivors. However, the focus here is somewhat unusual: the film focuses on the concentration camp serial numbers that were tattooed on their left arms by the Nazis.

The survivors view their tattoos in extremes – one woman compares it to the branding of cattle, while one man slyly refers to it as a symbol of prestige for coming out of the Holocaust. One woman notes that getting the tattoo was a first step at avoiding immediate death – those with numbers were needed to stay alive for the Auschwitz labor details. The interview subjects detail the patience required to explain their tattoos to their children, and one notes that her number has been complimented by younger people that indulge in their own forms of body ink expression.

Most of those interviewed are able to recite their number immediately, although one woman says that she cannot recall her number and another refuses to recite the number in Hebrew. Despite the harrowing circumstances at the core of the story, “Numbered” is a positive and life-affirming documentary on how the Auschwitz survivors moved beyond the horrors of wartime Europe to peaceful and productive lives in Israel.

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