The documentary film Return to a Burning House portrays the life of Haviva Reick (1914-1944), heroine of the Slovak National Uprising, member of British Intelligence, activist and passionate Zionist. The film presents a significant amount of hitherto unknown archival material, scenes of various monuments and travels in Haviva’s footsteps throughout Slovakia, Great Britain and Israel. But above all, it tells the story of compelling figure who can inspire us even today. Is it worth giving up love or one‘s family for heroic deeds? What is Haviva Reick’s legacy today – for her home country, Israel and the world in these times of growing nationalist movements?
Haviva Reick was a heroine of World War II., but her adventurous story can still inspire us even now. She was born into a poor Jewish family and fought her whole life for her place in the sun. And she didn’t only take care of herself - she was driven by an urgent need to help others.
In her little town in Slovakia, she was known as an eccentric young woman who rode a motorcycle and was active in local volunteer groups. Later she followed her calling and left to build the Jewish state, today’s Israel. But when uprising against fascism began in her home town, she didn’t hesitate, and joined Churchill’s Special Operation force in order to return to “the burning house” as a special agent. Against a background of 70 years ago, the director observes with apprehension the expansion of the extreme right in today’s society. What would Haviva Reick say about the radicalization of politics today? Haviva’s personal story is, at the same time, part of a larger story of women in army. How do today’s Havivas, women soldiers in the Slovak and Israeli armies, feel about serving their country?
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