‘How Saba Kept Singing,’ Holocaust doc produced by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, to air on PBS for Yom Hashoah


(JTA) — Hillary and Chelsea Clinton have produced a documentary about a Holocaust survivor that will debut on PBS on Tuesday, timed to Yom Hashoah, or Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“How Saba Kept Singing” tells the story of David Wisnia, a cantor who survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp for nearly three years, helped in part by his operatic singing voice, which entertained the Nazi guards.

The film also tells of how Wisnia, who grew up singing in his synagogue’s choir in Poland, struck up a relationship with an older woman named Helen “Tzippi” Spitzer during their time at Auschwitz. Her skills as a graphic artist allowed her to move between men’s and women’s quarters, and the two shared intimate moments as fellow inmates watched out for guards.

The two lost track of each other after surviving the experience and did not come in contact again until 2019, when they shared “their account of their unimaginable memories,” a PBS statement reads.

David Wisnia, who served congregations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, died at 94 in 2021, a year after traveling to the former camp to commemorate the 75th anniversary of its liberation, despite a series of injuries. His grandson Avi Wisnia, a musician, composed a musical tribute to his “Saba,” or grandfather, which is heard over the film’s closing credits.

The film was produced under the Clintons’ HiddenLight Productions company, which launched in 2020 and specializes in global content that in their words highlights “the best of the human spirit and help our audiences see the world in new ways.”

“David Wisnia’s remarkable story of love in ‘How Saba Kept Singing’ is inspiring and I hope you will find it as uplifting as I do,” said Chelsea Clinton, who is listed as an executive producer, in a statement.

“The pain and horror of the Holocaust must never be forgotten,” added Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. secretary of state.

The project was co-produced by Retro Report, a nonprofit that makes news documentaries.