About This Project

Dan Nelken


Cat’s Cradle

My parents were Holocaust survivors who emigrated to Palestine. “Cat’s Cradle” like the childhood game for which it is named, enables viewers to weave a singular, circular thread into multiple enigmatic stories, revealing tales about survival, tenacity, loss, and love. My father and his older brother Max left Vienna after Kristallnacht. Tragically, their mother and sister decided to remain in Vienna; they died in Theresienstadt’s concentration camp. Years earlier, my mother’s family left Danzig before Hitler invaded Poland. When my father died, I found an archive of documents in several languages that my parents had transported across many borders. These documents anchored their history and underscored their courage to migrate to Palestine, later Israel, then Canada, and finally to the United States with their two children in tow. My parents’ struggles as Jewish refugees created a strong emotional bond between them that I could never comprehend as a child. I wanted to delve into each parent’s history while representing the common threads of their journeys toward a new life. Their documents add a historical dimension, serving as evidence of their tenacity. They emigrated for some of the same reasons millions of people migrate today: gang violence, discrimination, religious intolerance, segregation, & deprivation. How could I embrace and fully comprehend this familial history of immigration when memory and time shift the truth? “Cat’s Cradle” explores this conundrum.



7th edition