When filmmaker Gregory “Scott” Porter first learned that German prisoners of war were held in America during the Second World War, he was speechless.
“My grandmother told me an incredible story about how she had personally come to know several POWs on her family’s Utah farm,” says Porter. “At first she despised them, but soon she grew fond of them and realized that these so-called enemies weren’t all that different.”
Porter did some research and discovered that his grandmother’s story was not at all uncommon. In fact, people all across Utah and 46 other states had similar experiences with the nearly half million German POWs that were held in America during the war.
With such revelations came the idea for a one-hour documentary film to be entitled Splinters of a Nation. Porter spent the next year searching for living German veterans who could recall their time as prisoners in America.
“I spoke to nearly every scholar with knowledge on the subject and they always told me the same thing: ‘You’re ten years too late,’” said Porter.
Yet his journey eventually led him to several surviving POWs, all of whom were held near his hometown. In September 2013, Porter collected their stories while filming in locations throughout Germany.
Finding living German POWs with memories of the stateside camps is remarkable enough, but as Porter explains “it’s only half the story.”
He now plans to interview those Americans with whom the prisoners lived and worked during their years in the United States—the farmers, guards and others from the Greatest Generation. But many of these stories may soon vanish forever too. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 850 American Second World War vets die everyday.
“We’ve located many of these individuals,” says Porter. “We continue to find more every day and they’re excited to tell their story. But these men and women are well into their late 80s and 90s. Time is running out.”
To capture their stories before it’s too late, Porter is looking for financing through the innovative crowd-funding website Kickstarter.com. The site allows people from all over the world to contribute small amounts of money to creative projects. But campaigns on Kickstarter.com are funded on an ‘all or nothing’ basis – If the fundraising target isn’t met by the deadline chosen, all the money is returned to the contributors. With six days to go, Porter has generated just over $8,400 of the $20,000 he needs for the film.
“It’s nerve racking,” says Porter. “We only have a few days to reach our fundraising goal, or else we won’t be able to keep any of the money. But it’s still the best way to get the needed funds fast.”
Regardless of the challenges, the project will continue. For Porter this is more than a film, it’s a story that he says, “has changed my life—a story capable of changing many lives.”
(Story courtesy of Splinters of a Nation)
Click below to see a video sneak preview of the project.