On Sunday, April 7, the New-York Historical Society is proud to present the New York premiere of the short film, A Journey With Purpose. Fifteen-year-old Joshua Miller, in collaboration with his mother, Gail Becker, created this unique film in 2011. It documents their experience traveling to Poland in order to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau with Martin Becker (Gail’s father and Joshua’s grandfather) six years ago. At that time Joshua was 9 years old, the same age as his grandfather was when he was sent to the camp during World War II.
Joshua and Gail will travel from their home in Los Angeles to be with us to personally introduce their film. Following the screening they will participate in a discussion facilitated by Facing History & Ourselves and answer audience questions.
I was privileged to interview narrator and co-producer of A Journey With Purpose, Joshua Miller.
LS: Joshua, you’ve known your grandfather for your whole life. When and how did you first begin to understand the significance of his personal history?
JM: I really didn’t begin to understand what his story was, much less it’s significance, until we visited Auschwitz. While I was there, I felt a real connection to the story and, all of a sudden, it dawned on me why his story was so important. It should be used as a reminder for generations to come about what happened there.
LS: You took a trip to Poland with your mother and grandfather that became the story you tell in your movie. I know people will want to see this movie themselves so I don’t want to say everything that happened in it, but if you were to describe one moment for us—a moment that you remember deeply inside you—what would that be?
JM: The biggest moment for me was seeing the crematorium where his parents were burned. We all said a prayer for them and while it was a very sad moment, it was absolutely worth it because my grandfather was able to say goodbye to some of his ghosts from his past.
LS: Not very many young men can list award-winning movie making as one of their achievements…congratulations! Has the experience of making this movie changed the way you see the world?
JM: I feel that this movie has definitely changed the way I see the world. I realize that racism exists worldwide, and I know that it is my responsibility to help change that by helping to create awareness and, hopefully, the film, inspiring others to do the same.
LS: We cannot wait for you and your mother to join us at the screening and discussion to honor Yom haShoah at the New-York Historical Society. There will be a lot of kids in the audience, along with parents and grandparents. We think that the multigenerational audience will generate a lot more interesting questions! We wish your grandfather was able to join us…what do you think he might ask you?
JM: I think that he might ask me if the experience changed me. My answer to that would be absolutely. I have never had an experience anywhere near as impactful as this one was. I know it will stay with me for the rest of my life, as well as the lives of my children and grandchildren. One day, I will be able to share the story with them.
LS: Thank you, Joshua, for answering these questions! We look forward to hearing more about your experience on April 7th.
Joshua’s film, A Journey With Purpose, will show in the theater at the New-York Historical Society on Sunday at 12:30. This event is free with Museum admission.