"It's important for the world to know how we lived and not only how we died."
- E. Hautzig, Author and Vilna Survivor

The Vilna Dramatic Circle on Tour in 1931 - (Ghetto Fighters' House)

"THE WORLD WAS OURS", a documentary film dedicated to the memory of Jewish Vilna, celebrates Jewish life in Vilna as it was before World War II. Narrated by award-winning actor, Mandy Patinkin, it draws on a large collection of video interviews with dozens of survivors and scholars, archival photographs and film footage, excerpts from diaries, letters, poems, newspaper stories as well as archival music evoking the spirit of the times and specially recorded performances in Yiddish, Polish and other music popular in Vilna between the two World Wars.


Produced with careful attention to detail and historical accuracy, this one-hour documentary chronicles the rich, vibrant history of the Jewish community of Vilna, before its destruction in WWII.

The Vilna Troupe (YIVO Collection)

The film focuses on the pre-war life of this vibrant culture depicting its hopes, dreams and remarkable achievements, a cultural atmosphere producing illustrious figures like: Chaim Soutine, Jacques Lipchitz, Jascha Heifetz, Nadia Reisenberg, Avram Sutzkever, Chaim Grade, Joseph Buloff, The Vilna Troupe, naming just a few.

The community's dedication to culture and education was so strong that, during the Holocaust, its people risked their lives to save precious books and documents marked for destruction by the Nazis. Locked in the ghetto, fully aware of their imminent annihilation, they continued to present concerts, theatre and art exhibitions. This film tells their story.

To see a clip of the film, visit The Museum of Family History.

To view a list of upcoming and past showings, view the events page.


The YIVO Institute’s first Vilna Award for Distinguished Achievement

Outstanding Achievement Award from the Kent Film Festival, August 9, 2009.

Honored by the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre

Kent Film Festival Award 2009Mira Jedwabnik Van Doren at Kent Film Festival, August 2009

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