‘Lala’ Shows a Family’s Bond with Their Dog During the Holocaust

When Roman Kent was a little boy growing up in Poland, his family was forced by Nazis to move into the Lodz ghetto miles from their home. They had to leave behind their beloved golden-haired dog, Lala (the Polish word for “doll”), who’d just given birth to a litter of puppies. But Lala wasn’t about to leave her human family behind.

One night in their tiny ghetto apartment, the Kent family heard scratching at the door. It was Lala. “How she found us, I will never know,” Kent said. For weeks, every night Lala would walk all the way to the ghetto from the factory in which the Kent family had been hiding with her. She would spend the night with them and, at sunrise, take the long walk back to her puppies in the empty factory.

“No barbed wire, no guns stopped this little dog from loving us, coming to us and then going back to her own children,” Kent said. “Love is stronger than hate!”

Because Jews interned in the ghetto weren’t allowed to have dogs, the Nazis eventually took Lala away from the Kents during one of her visits. They never saw her again. When the ghetto was closed, the family was taken by cattle car to Auschwitz. Only Kent and his siblings survived.

Kent, who’s now 88, wrote a children’s book about his experience, called “My Dog Lala.” That book inspired “Lala,” a new short virtual-reality film produced by the USC Shoah Foundation. The foundation’s stated mission is “to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and hatred—and the suffering they cause” through educators’ use of its Visual History Archive, which contains over 55,000 testimonies of survivors and witnesses to genocide.

“Lala” is being provided to educators via the Shoah Foundation’s Stronger Than Hate program to help teach students about intolerance.

Kent narrates the six-minute film, and appears in it as he is in the present as well as in animated flashbacks of his childhood.

“‘Lala’ is a remarkable work of art that takes viewers on a emotional journey, no matter their age,” said Stephen Smith, an executive director of USC Shoah Foundation, in a statement. “But it also offers a solution to a problem confronted by many educators: how does one introduce students to the horrors of the Holocaust, genocide and unchecked hatred in a way that is age-appropriate?”

The film will be shown to children as young as fifth graders. “Because it is easier for a child to relate to losing a dog than being separated from his or her family or living in a concentration camp,” the Shoah Foundation website notes, the true story of loyal Lala has been one of the most popular in the Institute’s IWitness program for secondary-school students.

This is an ideal time to release a film like “Lala.” After all, the president of the United States said there were “very fine people on both sides” regarding a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Since Trump’s election, anti-Semitic incidences have increased a shocking 86 percent. “Lala” is important because it shows schoolchildren that Nazis are far from being “very fine people.”

Even after all this time, Kent says in “Lala,” he still believes the important lesson his beloved dog taught him: that love conquers hate.

You can watch “Lala” on a smartphone with or without a VR viewer, or in this YouTube version, which allows you to click a scene and view it in 360 degrees.

Photo credit: USC Shoah Foundation/YouTube

74 comments

Jennifer H
Jennifer H23 days ago

Sad yet beautiful story of love. Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Veronica Danie
Veronica Dabout a month ago

Thank you so very much.

SEND
Veronica Danie
Veronica Dabout a month ago

Thank you so very much.

SEND
Veronica Danie
Veronica Dabout a month ago

Thank you so very much.

SEND
Kathryn I
Kathryn Iabout a month ago

Petition signed. Thanks for sharing!

SEND
Amanda M
Amanda M1 months ago

Thanks for sharing

SEND
Amanda M
Amanda M1 months ago

Thanks for sharing

SEND
ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA R1 months ago

well said, Terri S
Shared
Thank you.

SEND
Chad A
Chad A1 months ago

Thank you.

SEND
Kathryn I
Kathryn I1 months ago

Such a sad story. Thanks for sharing it.

SEND