About The Glass Files and its founder
In 2007, I was two years out of college with a degree in History from NYU, working and pursuing creative passions, when my mom suggested that I ask my grandfather about his life, and how he came to America.
I borrowed a camera from a friend and filmed 9 hours of my grandfather’s memoir that same year. He was immediately comfortable in front of the camera, and the story he had never told us flowed out.
Walter – as he liked to be called by his grandchildren – grew up in Vienna, Austria. In 1938, tensions were rising in Europe and he read Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Unlike his family he grasped the real danger of the Nazi threat, and immediately began his mission to leave. After a failed attempt through France, narrowly escaping Kristallnacht while desperately waiting for immigration papers, he managed to board the USS Aquitania and arrived in New York alone with 10 dollars in his pocket, he had just turned 17. Not long after he lost contact with his family, all his loved ones perished in the Holocaust.
Education became his sole focus, he obtained a scholarship to the University of Texas and deferred his attendance to Harvard Law School to enlist in the army and use his native German language for counter-intelligence, training at Camp Ritchie. For over 30 years, he negotiated trade agreements with Russia and China for General Electric and believed his work was essential to maintaining peaceful relations around the world.
My experience capturing Walter’s memoir fueled my love for film and storytelling, and I worked intimately with scenyc, a media and technology company in the south Bronx, to create The Glass Files. Born of 9 hours of footage and a profound drive to celebrate my grandfather’s legacy, our platform invites every family to share their heritage, and to democratize the way History is told.
Sarah M. A. Poyet, in The Bronx, NY, USA, September 2016