“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.” Elie Wiesel

“A Hero Among Us” Liberator Documentary Recipient of Humanities Iowa Grant

Documentary Film
Update November 2017

From Humanities Iowa:

“We’re thrilled to announce the recipients of our most recent major grant awards cycle! Drake University Fair Field Productions CARTHA Thaler Holocaust Remembrance Fund Dubuque County Historical Society Des Moines Public Library Moline Foundation African American Museum of Iowa Eastern Iowa Arts Academy Dubuque Museum of Art

Work continues on the film “A Hero Among Us.” We are honored and grateful to announce that this documentary project just received a second grant from Humanities Iowa that will go towards the completion of the film. “A Hero Among Us” features the story of Army Medic and liberator of the Gunskirchen Lager concentration camp, Iowa resident Sargent John L. Gualtier. Also included is the amazing story of a survivor from that same concentration camp, Martin Weiss.

Martin Weiss. Photo by Brent Watkins

Martin was first interred in Auschwitz as a 16-year-old boy after the Hungarian police rounded up Jews from his village in Polana, Czechoslovakia. While his parents perished in the Holocaust, Martin not only survived his stay in Auschwitz, but also as a slave laborer at Mauthausen, before his final transfer to Gunskirchen Lager in Austria. His liberation came when the United States Army 71st Infantry Division swept through Germany, then Austria as a part of the allied invasion.

Sargent John L. Gualtier. Photo by Brent Watkins

For Sergeant Gualtier, a medic with the 71st Infantry Division, the trauma of war continued long after his discharge from the military. He faced mounting mental health issues long before doctors understood what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

For both men, dealing with their past came by way of a common commitment to the power of story. Although both were reluctant to confront their past, let alone share it with strangers, a unique set of circumstances transpired so each could find healing through sharing the pain of their past with others.

Much work remains to complete the film. The filmmakers are combing through the National Archives and other collections to locate images relevant to the historical facts discussed in the interviews. In addition, compelling artistic renderings will help viewers visualize details of events where no photos exist.

While grants from Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities have helped move the project forward, additional funds are needed to complete the film.

To find out how you can support this project, visit the film’s website at http://heroamongus.rivermedia.tv. Donations can be made the site and a featurette can be viewed.
The filmmakers hope to have work completed in early 2018. We will continue to provide updates as the project progresses.

Thank you for your continued support.

-Brent Watkins

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