ADAM & IDA – Almost A Fairytale

Separated at the age of three, Polish-Jewish twins Adam and Ida Paluch survived the Holocaust knowing almost nothing about their family roots.
Half a century later, two strangers miraculously find each other. Will this become a fairytale ending? A story about identity and the universal need to belong.


For the first time in their lives, Adam and Ida Paluch tell their story to a German film crew. It is an incredible tale about a lifelong quest about identity, loss and the search for belonging – told through interviews and animations illustrating the Jewish twins’ only vague memories.
Adam and Ida were three years old when they were separated during the Holocaust. Adam survived a concentration camp and was later adopted. Ida survived the war hidden by a Polish couple. Both children were baptized, issued a fake birth certificate with new names and grew up Catholic. It seemed all but impossible that they would ever reunite. However, the twins always felt “something missing”.
Following a 53-year long journey that took them around the globe, one day Ida believes to recognize her brother on a newspaper photo resembling her grandfather. When the two strangers meet, they are convinced to have found each other at last. “We know it is us”, says Ida. Is it a happy end? Can history be overcome?

  • Jan Tenhaven
    Autumn Gold / Herbstgold (2010)
  • Tilman Müller
  • Jan Tenhaven
  • Olaf Jacobs
  • Sven Kiesche
    Director of Photography
  • Oliver Szyza
  • Daniel Liepke
    Second Camera
  • Julian Kiesche
  • Cassis B Staudt
  • Pic Packer
    Motion Design
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 22 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    April 4, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Polish
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • Autentic GmbH
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Jan Tenhaven

Jan Tenhaven is an award-winning writer and director of documentaries and non-fiction television programmes. He has a passion for exploring the stories of most fascinating people in our society and telling their personal stories in a respectful and unique way. When not exploring the human condition, he also specializes in creating programmes that focus on nature and our surrounding environment, the sciences, and travel. His documentaries has been shown on ARD, ZDF, Arte, 3Sat, BBC2, YLE, VPRO, NHK, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and other outlets.

Jan believes in being an active participant in the filmmaking world and has served various juries, including the German Camera Award, the Sehsüchte Film Festival at the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf and the nomination committee for the Award of the German Academy for Televison (DAfF) where he also serves as chairman of the Documentary section. Outside of his job, he is involved as a parent representative at the Jewish high school Moses Mendelssohn in Berlin.

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Director Statement

Director's Note by Jan Tenhaven

My grandfather was a Nazi and beat up Jews in the street. My parents grew up as toddlers among ruins and air raid shelters. My teachers were politicised in the 68 movement, and so their attitude was: never again war, never again anti-Semitism! Today, my daughter attends a Jewish grammar school. On the way to my office in Berlin, I walk over dozens of Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) commemorating people who were gassed and whose descendants would be my neighbours today.

I've always found the debate about drawing a line under Germany's Nazi era a little strange.

And then I meet Adam and Ida. Just as old as my father and mother. While my parents were seeking shelter from British bombers in the Ruhr area, further east in the Reich, the little twins Adam and Ida were separated first from their mother and then from each other. Today, Adam and Ida wander the world in search of identity and security. My grandfather would have liked to beat them up back then.

No, there can be no closure, and the film is meant to be an unspoken plea to see and learn from the gaping wounds torn by the Nazis' racial mania. Especially now that elected right-wing politicians in Germany are defaming the Holocaust memorial as a "monument of shame" and calling for a "180-degree-turn" from the tradition of remembering Nazi crimes – all while Jews are being beaten up again on the streets of Europe.

Yet the film is not meant to be a political film, but a deeply humanistic one. It is a small story that tells the incomprehensible horror of the past and what is already brewing again today, but that is not explicitly the main subject. It is about Adam and Ida, in whose story the old, the new, the in-between and the new old are reflected as if in a burning glass.

I am not interested in history as a look at supposedly closed chapters. We are all a product of what has been, and with this understanding I look at the protagonists of my films.

Adam and Ida are first and foremost two human beings. Victims, yes, but no saints, no experts on anything except themselves. People with sympathetic and less sympathetic traits, with their quirks and foibles, with their fears, worries and dreams. That's how I want to portray them. I do not aim to explain the big picture either, but I want to make it a little tangible.

I want to make Adam's and Ida's doubting, insecure and quiet voices heard a little more, because the booing on the streets is getting so loud again.