999: The Young Women of the First Official Transport to Auschwitz

Director Heather Dune Macadam, Producer Jane Schonberger
999: The Young Women of the First Official Transport to Auschwitz


They were best friends, sisters, cousins, teenagers. 999 of them would go to Auschwitz on the first transport. Only a few would return. Edith Grosman was seventeen when government officials ordered unmarried Jewish girls to register for work service. Filled with a sense of national pride, she joined hundreds of other innocent young women who were falsely under the impression their patriotic duty would benefit their families. Instead, they were deported to Auschwitz as expendable slave labor. The Slovak government paid the Nazis the equivalent of $3,000 to deport each girl. Through first-person testimony and rare archival material, we learn the little-known facts of the women’s camp in 1942 and how a handful of the girls managed against all odds to survive three long years of hell on earth.

Phase of Support: Post-Production

Project Links

Heather Dune Macadam

Heather Dune Macadam - Director

Heather Dune Macadam has spent over 20 years researching and interviewing families, witnesses, and survivors of the first official transport to Auschwitz. Her internationally acclaimed book 999 (published in 2020) has been translated into 18 languages. 999 was a Goodreads People’s Choice Award winner and a Pen Finalist in 2021.

Macadam’s first book Rena’s Promise, co-written with Holocaust survivor #1716 Rena Kornreich Gelissen is required reading in history classes around the world. In 2011, Macadam founded Rena’s Promise Foundation, in the hopes of helping create a more ecumenical world unhindered by prejudice, racism or hatred.

Macadam’s work discovering lost girls and young women of the Holocaust has been recognized by Yad Vashem in the UK, the National Museum of Jewish History in Slovakia, and the Memorial Museum of Auschwitz in Poland. A former professor, she has taught journalism, creative nonfiction & screenwriting for over 20 years. This is her directorial debut.

Jane Schonberger

Jane Schonberger - Producer

An award-winning writer/producer for over 30 years, Schonberger has developed a diverse slate of projects. Schonberger began her career as Director of Production for Warner Audio where she produced hundreds of dramatizations including the acclaimed “Remembering Anne Frank” with Anjelica Huston. After her transition to Production Executive for Walt Disney Co., she supervised live-action and animated programming for Buena Vista Home Entertainment (including the Studio Ghibli library) and served as Executive Producer on in-house productions. Schonberger also served as a Production Executive for Fox, Geena Davis, and Hyperion.

Via her female-focused production company, Pretty Tough Prod, Schonberger works with new and established brands to create narratives that provide both positive social and business return. She developed a series of books under the Pretty Tough moniker along with a film based on the books.  Schonberger has created content for a wide range of partners, including BlogHer, Random House, Nike, ESPNW, CNN, and Mommy & Me (as SVP of Creative Affairs).

Project logline and bios courtesy of the grantees.