Almost Lost

“Almost Lost, The Heinemann Legacy” tells an amazing story of restitution, reconciliation, and healing.

Becki Cohn-Vargas’ film “Almost Lost: The Heinemann Legacy” tells an amazing story of her great great grandfather, Marcus Heinemann and his 17 children in Lueneburg, Germany. The film shows a time when her great, great, grandfather was a leader in the town and suddenly all was lost with the horrors of the Nazi period.  The legacy reveals itself in a unique moment of restitution, reconciliation, and healing.

This film explores what was “almost lost” and how one family found restitution, healing, and reconciliation. In 2014, Museum Lüneburg in Germany was seeking descendants of Marcus Heinemann (1819-1908), a leading Jewish citizen. They wanted to return items looted by the Nazis. Marcus had 17 children. Two of the children and many of his grandchildren were murdered. The survivors escaped to England, France, Venezuela, Israel, Holland, Mexico, South Africa, and the US. In this film, 40 family members met in Lüneburg, many for the first time, for a ceremony to loan the items back to the museum. The film captures the mixture of feelings of the heirs and a powerful moment when the German hosts asked for forgiveness.

Anneke de Rudder, museum historian:

In a very unusual way, this weekend at the museum thus brought together the past, the present and the future: The common look back into history, with all its beautiful and all its pain­ful aspects, created a very special atmos­phere which none of those present is likely to forget very soon. The museum provided the space for talks, emo­tions, images, discus­sions, disco­veries and expe­riences. All over town, Lüneburgers opened their doors and houses, inviting the Heinemanns into their homes, giving them the feeling that they were warmly welcome in Lüneburg  – seventy years after the end of the war.

Becki Cohn-Vargas
filmmaker