CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland InternationalFilm Festival beginsApril 3.
One of the documentaries, "Lost Town," tells the story of a Ukrainian town destroyed by Nazis during World War II.
One of the town's only survivors is a Beachwood woman, whose story is the main focus of this film.
"I was born in the town of Trochenbrod, the most unique town on the planet," says Betty Gold.
As a child, Gold was one of 5,000 who lived in this Jewish town, where everyone knew each other and there was no need to leave.
"You know, we had everything that we needed, nobody was rich, but everyone had enough to eat and clothing and shelter."
But when Gold was 10, rumors of Nazi occupation crept into their homes. Her father built a false wall in their shed and two bunkers out in the woods just in case the Nazis came.
And, eventually, they did.
"And they knocked on our doors and they asked us to leave our homes and we were told that we were allowed to take one package of necessities. So, we figured, gee, they're not going to kill us, otherwise, why would we need the bundle, the necessities... and we were escorted to the park, and we were told to sit there until we get further instructions."
But Gold's family didn't follow behind her and her grandparents. When they didn't show, she got anxious.
"And I told my mother you watch the bundles, I'm going to risk it... And I came to my house and there was no one there. And then I remembered the wall. And I figured, they were hiding in the wall," Gold told us.
There were 16 people hiding in that wall, Gold's family and another.
"We were all instructed not to cough, not to sneeze, not to talk, not to make a sound , because the Nazis were roaming around the courtyards looking for hidden Jews and we understood, we followed direction and we were very very quiet. And the family who had the little girl, who had a baby about a year and a half I think suddenly started to cry. She was screaming her head off...
"And suddenly, the mother made the horrific decision, she suffocated her baby ... Because she wanted her two boys to survive and the rest of us, consequently, because we were there...And we didn't know what was happening with all the Jews in the park that they gathered."
From their home, Gold and her family heard gun shots, that she described as "sounding like war." Of the 5,000 people who lived in her village, 4,200 were shot and killed that day.
"And they made them dig their own mass grave and they made them walk in naked one layer at a time and they gunned them down until everybody was killed."
Gold and her family managed to escape to the woods, where her father had built two underground bunkers. To survive, Gold's family would send her out in the middle of the night to steal food from farmers.
The only person to know where Betty and her family lived was a Christian friend in the next town over.
"One day he came and said, you know, you're not the only survivors, there are other survivors...And he says that the Nazis invited any Jew to come back and work in the factories and they'll have a soup kitchen, a shelter, and they promise nothing will happen to us because they need the labor... And we thought, instead of freezing in the winter, why don't we join the other survivors and go there also."
As the family set out at night, they walked in circles, until they were lost in the woods.
"We were exhausted and there was a ditch and my father said, everyone into the ditch. We are going to wait until dawn, until daylight...And suddenly we heard shots again, like another war and what happened, all the refugees, all the hidden Jews that came back to do slave labor, while we were in the ditch, were all shot that night."
For nearly 3 years, Betty and her family had other close calls, living in the woods and swamps, in constant hunger and fear. Finally, they were found by Russian soldiers, who took them in and protected them. But, for Betty, there was no home to go back to.
Trochenbrod is still just a field and only lives on through the few survivors, like Betty.
"I have very fond memories of my town and I'm trying to keep it alive."
Her story and the story of her Lost Town is being shown at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Clickhere to get the schedule.