‘We Were the Lucky Ones’ Author Chronicled Firsthand Memories From the Real-Life Felicia

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The events of Mila (Hadas Yaron) and Felicia’s (Artemisia Pagliano) plight in episodes 4 and 5 of Hulu’s “We Were the Lucky Ones,” based on the book by Georgia Hunter, came from a firsthand source — the actual Felicia herself.

Both Hunter’s book and the show are based on the real events of the Kurc family, who survived the Holocaust and World War II, then spread out to four continents over nine years. Hunter first accessed bits of the story from her grandfather Addy (portrayed in the series by Logan Lerman).

After that, she set off to travel and research the extent of her family’s journey on foot. Sol (Lior Ashkenazi) and Nechuma Kurc (Robin Weigert) had five children, and each eventually found a significant other. Herta later gave birth to Józef at the Russian labor camp.

“Felicia was absolutely my first stop,” Hunter told TheWrap during February’s Television Critics Association press tour. “I met with her in Paris. She passed away just almost less than a month ago. She was aware of the project and we’re still processing it. It was her time, but it was still very, very sad.”

Felicia Kurc (portrayed by  Artemisia Pagliano and later Belle Swarc in Hulu's "We Were the Lucky Ones"
Younger and older photos of Felicia Kurc (portrayed by Artemisia Pagliano and later Belle Swarc in Hulu’s “We Were the Lucky Ones”) (Courtesy of Georgia Hunter)

After her husband Selim (Michael Aloni) goes off to the war, seeking to utilize his expertise as a doctor, Mila stays with her parents briefly. She decides to emigrate to America with daughter Felicia from the Wałowa ghetto with Radom’s most liberal and educated professionals.

In a tragic turn of events, their transport takes them to open fields as Ukranian soldiers force the group out of their car and demand they start digging what they know will be their own mass grave. The Gestapo had tricked the approximately 40 people into hoping for an escape.

“She remembered so much. I was blown away by what she could remember from such a very young age, which speaks to what it’s like to be a child, and that time, it was just horrifying,” Hunter said. “And yet she came through it, and I always knew her as the very stylist for Parisian Great Aunt. She was so gracious with her time and her willingness to share with me.”

The story expands beyond Radom, Poland (where the Kurc family had mostly settled) with Addy having moved to Paris. Genek (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) and his wife Herta (Moran Rosenblatt) are transferred to a labor camp in Altynay, Siberia, later moving through Kazakhstan to Tel Aviv, Israel. Addy’s escape takes him to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“I just flew around the world, really South America, all over Europe and all over the States interviewing second-generation survivors. Felicia’s also one of them, but those folks, those cousins were passed down stories from their parents. So those were what I collected,” Hunter added.

“I also had access to some records like Steven Spielberg’s [USC] Shoah Foundation,” she continued. “[They] have three relatives speaking on camera about their experiences, I collected other records through databases like the Hoover Institution and the U.K. Ministry of Defense. I reached far and wide, which is probably why it took so long and because there’s so many of them.”

The first five episodes of “We Were the Lucky Ones” are now streaming on Hulu and Disney+.

The post ‘We Were the Lucky Ones’ Author Chronicled Firsthand Memories From the Real-Life Felicia appeared first on TheWrap.