Richard Lerner’s documentary focuses on his family’s remarkable exodus out of Nazi-occupied Europe. The Lerners were a Polish-Jewish family that settled in Antwerp in the early part of the 20th century – the family was originally en route to the U.S., but felt at home in Belgium and decided to settle there. Within a relatively short time, the family became successful in Antwerp’s diamond and retail businesses.
But when World War II broke out, the Lerners realized that they could not remain in Antwerp for long. Escaping to France prior to the fall of Belgium, the family made its way through Spain and Portugal before resettling in the U.S.; a few family members found safety in Cuba before they could obtain visas to join their relatives in the U.S. One of the young men in the family returned to Europe with the U.S. Army and participated in the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp.
The story of the Lerners is a fascinating tale of perseverance and extraordinary luck, and the film provides a wealth of photographs and home movies plus first-person accounts by surviving family members to document their remarkable peripatetic odyssey. “Out of Europe” provides a compelling view of World War II as seen through the extraordinary lives of seemingly ordinary people. This film is highly recommended for anyone seeking a greater understanding of the conditions in wartime Europe.