How Saba Kept Singing

The new Retro Report documentary “How Saba Kept Singing” traces the journey of Holocaust survivor David Wisnia as he returns to Auschwitz and unlocks a secret from his past.

“How Saba Kept Singing” traces the journey of Holocaust survivor David Wisnia as he returns to the Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau to uncover his past.

David had never told his wife, children or grandchildren the whole truth about how he survived nearly three years in the camp. The family knew that he had used his singing voice to entertain the Auschwitz guards, and that his musical gift had changed his fate.

“Music was my life right from the beginning,” he recalled decades later. “When I got into the camp, that’s what saved my life.”

But David’s grandson Avi Wisnia suspected that there was more to his Saba’s story.

“Most of the people who came into Auschwitz did not last more than about a month,” David said. “How come I stayed in Auschwitz for two and a half years and never moved?” As Avi put it, “There had to be something else.”

“How Saba Kept Singing” reveals a touching firsthand account of David’s past as he travels with Avi to Poland to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation. The story is also brought to life through dynamic animation and David and Avi Wisnia’s music.

The film had its world premiere at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in April 2022. “How Saba Kept Singing” premieres nationwide on Tuesday, April 18 on PBS (check local listings), and the PBS app to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“How Saba Kept Singing” was produced in collaboration with HiddenLight Productions, Burnt Umber Productions and the WNET Group’s reporting initiative Exploring Hate.

Educators, check out our “How Saba Kept Singing” Education Collection.

Browse through dozens more lesson plans and videos here.


‘How Saba Kept Singing’ is unique Holocaust survival story about love from ABC7NY

Clinton-produced ‘How Saba Kept Singing’ tells story of cantor’s Auschwitz survival from The Times of Israel (also picked up by STL Jewish Light, Cleveland Jewish News, Jewish Post and News)

Can a Holocaust documentary have a happy ending? Should it? from Jewish Telegraph Agency

How a gift for music saved one man from the Nazis from Forward Review

Best-Bets For April 18: Emotional Moments, Past and Present from Mike Hughes

For teachers
  • Director, Writer and Producer: Sara Taksler
  • Editor: Jackie Soriano
  • Contributing Producers: Margaret McCarthy
  • Contributing Producers: Michael Potter