Last weekend the New-York Historical Society was proud to co-host with Facing History and Ourselves the New York premiere screening of A Journey With Purpose. This short film documents the journey Gail Becker, her son Joshua Miller and her father Martin Becker took to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. At the time of the trip Joshua was nine years old, the same age as his grandfather had been when he entered the camp.
It was a powerful film and provoked a very interesting discussion afterwards. The auditorium was filled with families with children who had lots of questions for co-producer Gail and co-producer and narrator Joshua. At 15, Joshua answered the sometimes-difficult queries with great sensitivity and maturity. He encouraged young people to continue to pursue their families’ histories, remember them, pass them on and pay attention to the stories of others. By understanding our shared history, they both said, we can better prepare for the future, perhaps preventing tragedies from occurring.
Here are two reflections from audience members:
After watching the movie A Journey with Purpose I thought that it was very interesting and that the movie teaches us many things that happened during the Holocaust through the eyes of a small boy. What I learned was that we need to tell this story to future generations or else the past will repeat itself. The program’s setup was good because we first got to watch the movie and then the audience got to immediately ask questions to Gail and Josh. This was a very special afternoon.
(Zeke, age 12)
I thought that it was an extremely moving and touching film. People are able to learn so much more about an event through a primary source and this film taught people so much more about the Holocaust. Unlike many of the other books and documentaries about the Holocaust, this film was more about the experience rather than the logistics and numbers of the event itself. I was honored to be able to watch it and it is truly an incredible piece of work and something to be very proud of.
(Maxine, age 15)