The Remarkable Story of a Black Holocaust Survivor, Told in a Short Documentary

Among mil­lions and mil­lions impris­oned in the Holo­caust, one man in par­tic­u­lar stands out — and stood out even to his Nazi cap­tors. “At the Mau­thausen garage yard, a black point stood about amidst the dust-col­ored mul­ti­tude,” writes nov­el­ist Joaquim Amat-Piniel­la. “It’s a black boy from Barcelona, born in Span­ish Africa. The offi­cer who had spot­ted him from the bal­cony ordered that he be brought up to him. His robust and mus­cu­lar body sur­prised the Nazis,” as did his cul­ti­va­tion: that he respond­ed to their ques­tions in Ger­man may well have kept him from being sent imme­di­ate­ly to the gas cham­ber. His name was Car­los José Grey Molay, also known as Car­los Greykey, and his remark­able life sto­ry is the sub­ject of 5124.GREYKEY, Enric Ribes’ short doc­u­men­tary film above.

Nar­rat­ed by Greykey’s daugh­ter Muriel Grey Molay, “5124.GREYKEY uses retro tech­niques, recre­at­ed home movies and personal/archival pho­tog­ra­phy to visu­alise a daughter’s mem­o­ries of an enig­mat­ic father.” So writes Rob Mun­day at Short of the Week, going on to describe the film as “con­sist­ing of painstak­ing­ly recre­at­ed home movies (reshot on Super 8 and 16mm — as Muriel couldn’t retrieve them), pho­tos (both from Muriel’s archive and his­toric archives) and stop-motion (cre­at­ed by S/W alums I+G Stop Motion).”

Through these mate­ri­als, “much like how the daugh­ter builds a sol­id under­stand­ing of her Dad’s past, bit-by-bit, a pic­ture of Jose only starts to form after we are giv­en the pieces of the puz­zle to put togeth­er our­selves.”

The Barcelona-born son of par­ents from mod­ern-day Equa­to­r­i­al Guinea, Greykey was study­ing med­i­cine at uni­ver­si­ty when the Span­ish Civ­il War broke out. Con­script­ed, he fought against the rebels, and lat­er moved on to France, where he fought against the Ger­mans. It was the Nazi vic­to­ry there that put him in the Mau­thausen con­cen­tra­tion camp along with Amat-Piniel­la. Like every­one else interned there, he received a num­ber — the tit­u­lar 5124 — but his refine­ment and for­mi­da­ble lan­guage skills (in addi­tion to his native Span­ish, he com­mand­ed not just Ger­man, but also French, Eng­lish, and Catalán) secured him the spe­cial posi­tion of serv­ing at the table of the cam­p’s com­man­der. What­ev­er priv­i­leges attend­ed this posi­tion, Greykey’s wartime expe­ri­ence haunt­ed him for the rest of his life: a life swept up in enough cur­rents of his­to­ry to be more than over­due for a fea­ture film-treat­ment.

via Aeon

Relat­ed con­tent:

Holo­caust Sur­vivor Vik­tor Fran­kl Explains Why If We Have True Mean­ing in Our Lives, We Can Make It Through the Dark­est of Times

How Alice Herz-Som­mer, the Old­est Holo­caust Sur­vivor, Sur­vived the Hor­rif­ic Ordeal with Music

96-Year-Old Holo­caust Sur­vivor Fronts a Death Met­al Band

100-Year-Old Holo­caust Sur­vivor Helen Fagin Reads Her Let­ter About How Books Save Lives

Meet Yasuke, Japan’s First Black Samu­rai War­rior

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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