A Life Changing Experience

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My Holocaust partner and inspiration is Peter Stern. Peter was born in Nuremberg, Germany in March 1936. During WWII, Peter and his family moved a great deal before being sent to Ravensburg, and ultimately Bergen-Belsen, one of the most brutal and deadly camps.

After viewing Sarah Greenberg’s film about her grandfather’s Holocaust survival story, I was incredibly moved how she was able to simultaneously portray the narrative in a critical and inspirational light, while at the same time conveying a story in a very honest form. This drove me to want to try to do the same and render my final project in film, despite my lack of any experience with multimedia.

Throughout my time with Peter, he has opened up his heart and home to me. His story and interpretation has honestly altered my life trajectory and changed my view of humanity. In the hours we have spent together through interviews, coffee, phone conversations, filming and meals, he and his wife, Julie, have become loving, surrogate grandparents. I am confident that we will continue to build on our relationship for many years to come. I sincerely hope this project makes Peter proud and captures his incredible and moving story. His giving, loving, forgiving and inspiring spirit are both rare and exhilarating. My most sincere aspiration for my project, like all the other projects in this fellowship, is for it to become a vehicle used by future generations to approach not only the historical, but the deeply cultural and ultimately human narrative of the Holocaust long after living survivors like Peter are here to personally tell this imperative story.

My experience working with Pete was life changing. It was very interesting talking to Pete about his survival and how that has made him into who he is today. I have made a life long friendship with Pete and his wife Julie that we continue to today. I was so inspired with Pete and his story because he quickly took the attention away from his own survival and turned the lessons of his story to greater humanity and how we, as a society, can learn from the holocaust.

I loved the fellowship program and learned so much from the process, my peers and my survivor. I would love to see how this program grows in the future.

-Halle Watkin
See my project here telling the story that lives