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Greenlit: No Place on Earth, History

No Place on Earth – Documentary that unearths the gripping story of 38 Ukrainian Jews who survived during World War II. To evade Nazi capture, these heroic refugees, lived in a cave for nearly two years – the longest recorded sustained underground survival. Built upon interviews with the survivors, as well as Chris Nicola, the caving enthusiast who uncovered the story, this film is an incredible true story of strength and survival.

In 1993, cave explorer Chris Nicola was mapping one of the world’s most extensive horizontal cave systems with a group of elite Ukrainian cavers. He discovered unusual objects: buttons, shoes, a grinding stone, even a rusty, old house key. Over the next nine years, Nicola pieced together a most unbelievable story:  with no gear or training, a desperate group of people had lived in this cave for months on end…and survived.

The cave, known as Priest’s Grotto, housed groups of despairing families and created refuge for them in an unbelievably hostile environment during WWII. Led by family matriarch Esther Stermer, whose fierce resolve kept the underground community in-tact, this group united to survive against all odds. Throughout their ordeal, heroes emerged – including teenage boys and young men in their 20’s – who put their lives on the line to venture out to chop firewood, collect food and gather essential supplies.  What they accomplished is remarkable – in a region where less than 5% of the Jews survived – the 38 who went in to Priest’s Grotto in May, 1943, came out alive in April 1944 as the Russians liberated the area. Over 65-years later, in 2010, four of those young heroes, now in their 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, journeyed back to Ukraine with their grandchildren and Nicola to enter the cave for the first time since their courageous parting. The remarkable story is told through a visual combination of adventure cave exploration, dramatic re-enactments, and verite. It’s not only one of the most spectacular untold stories of its time; it’s an adventure story of amazing triumph in the face of the most unbelievable odds.

Channel: History Channel

Producer: History Films / Sierra/Tango Productions

TX: 26th April 2014

Source: History press release (via TV by the Numbers)


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