He survived the horrors of Auschwitz by entertaining the Nazi guards, HOW SABA KEPT SINGING – April 18 at 10 pm

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The U.S. Broadcast Premiere of How Saba Kept Singing April 18 on PBS in Honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day

Tuesday, April 18 at 10 pm


David “Saba” Wisnia never told his wife, children or grandchildren the whole truth about how he survived the Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The family knew his singing voice had entertained the guards, and that his musical gift had changed his fate, but David’s grandson Avi Wisnia suspects there is more to his Saba’s story. How Saba Kept Singing traces a remarkable journey revealing a touching firsthand account of how David, a Polish Jewish teenager, survived nearly three years in the camp. How Saba Kept Singing premieres nationwide on Tuesday, April 18 on PBS, and the PBS App in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah).

David Wisnia sitting on oversized chair
David “Saba” Wisnia in a lighter moment. “My father’s personality is effervescent,” said his son Eric. “He sparkles, which I find amazing considering his life story.” After his family was killed by Nazis, Wisnia was imprisoned at Auschwitz at age 16, and survived by singing for guards. After a daring escape, he was rescued by U.S. Army troops and went on to flourish in America

“The pain and horror of the Holocaust must never be forgotten. HiddenLight Productions is proud to partner with director Sara Taksler and producers Retro Report to bring David Wisnia’s remarkable story to the screen,” said Hillary Rodham Clinton, executive producer and former U.S. Secretary of State.

How Saba Kept Singing illuminates David’s past as he travels with his grandson 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 Hot Docs festival in April 2022.

Music was part of David’s life from an early age when he was a soloist in his synagogue’s choir as a child. He believes his singing voice earned him a more privileged existence in the camp. Music, Avi learns, is also what brings together David and fellow prisoner Helen “Zippi” Spitzer, a musician and artist tasked with creating a scale model of the camp. Zippi’s role allowed her to move freely between the women’s and the men’s camps and enabled her to orchestrate their encounters. David and Zippi promised to find each other if they survived but they lost contact. How Saba Kept Singing reunites David and Zippi 70 years later, sharing their account of their unimaginable memories.

“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, executive producer for HiddenLight Productions.

David Wisnia and his pianist grandson Avi
David Wisnia and his pianist grandson Avi prepare for their concert at the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Wisnia was imprisoned at age 16 and survived two and a half years at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. “Music was my life right from the beginning,” he said. “I always sang. When I got in to the camp, that’s what saved my life.”

“I met the Wisnia family when I was three-years-old, said director, producer and writer Sara Taksler. “Learning more about David and Zippi showed me that, even in the most dire of circumstances, art, music and human connection can spark the will to keep going. Seeing the examples of good people standing up in times of injustice was incredibly uplifting.”

“At a time when antisemitic incidents are on the rise, it is more important than ever to document stories from survivors of the Holocaust,” said Kyra Darnton, executive producer of Retro Report.  “We’re honored to play a role in sharing David Wisnia’s powerful story.”

How Saba Kept Singing proves that love can blossom in the darkest of places. We’re thrilled to have worked with Sara Taksler and Retro Report on this tender-hearted film,” said Johnny Webb, executive producer and CEO of HiddenLight Productions.

“While the Holocaust has been covered extensively, there is urgency and poignancy in the firsthand accounts of survivors,” said Lesley Norman, executive producer for The WNET Group. “We are honored to partner with Retro Report and PBS to bring David and Zippi’s testimony to audiences nationwide.”