Film, exhibit unveiled at JCC

YOUNGSTOWN – Holocaust survivor Henry Kinast’s story will reach new generations as it is the third to be filmed and put into a traveling exhibit made possible by the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation.

The exhibit and film ”Henry Kinast: A Survivor’s Journey from Ruin to Redemption” was unveiled at a recent ceremony at the Jewish Community Center.

The film was produced by the YAJF and ScreenPlays Inc. and written by Dr. Helene Sinnerich, director of the Center for Justice and Holocaust Studies at Youngstown State University.

Kinast, 85, accompanied by his wife, Gisella, children and other family members attended the event, explaining how the exhibit and film validate his story as a survivor.

Kinast said sharing the story is important to his family of four children, 14 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren and to younger generations today.

Rabbi Joseph Schonberger of Temple El Emeth and co-chair with Rochelle Miller of the Jewish Community Relations Council Holocaust Education and Commemoration Task Force, said the stories, film and exhibits share a powerful message.

Schonberger said the film and exhibit on Kinast is the third that will be taken to schools and other locations to educate the public on the Holocaust.

Schonberger said the films and paneled exhibit keeps the survivors’ memories alive.

The other two traveling exhibits are on survivors Bill Vegh and Esther Shudmak.

Jesse McClain, Holocaust educational specialist for the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, will take the new exhibit to schools, churches and community centers, where he will speak on the Holocaust.

Kinast grew up in Poland until the Nazis invaded the country in 1939. The family fled to Suchedniow where the family volunteered at a nearby factory.

Kinast, who was only a boy when he was at a German-run ammunition work camp in 1942 and was beaten severely when he fell asleep on the job, said he wanted to share his story with filmmakers so others would know what people went through during the Holocaust.

He later went to Buchenwald where he worked as a machinist building Nazi ammunition. He and his father and brother worked at different labor camps in Germany and Poland.

In April 1945, Buchenwald was liberated. He and his father and brother survived, but his mother did not. After the war, Kinast met his first wife, Inga, and moved to Youngstown in 1955. With his machinist skills, he found work at a metal company in Youngstown. When that plant closed in the late 1950s, Kinast went back to Pittsburgh to form his own company that would grow to become Hubbard-based PSK Steel.

He and Inga had four children, Terri, Jerry, Aliza and Paula. After his first wife’s death, Kinast met his current wife, Gisella.

Gisella Kinast said the family supports her husband’s efforts to share his story. She said once the family attended a Holocaust presentation at Mathews High School in Vienna.

”We were there by accident. We were going out to eat and saw a sign about the event and decided to attend,” she said.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com