A powerful and compelling documentary film, shot mostly in Boston, which chronicles the life of a boy who was rescued from the Nazis by a U.S. soldier at the end of World War II, will have its world broadcast television premiere on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 9 p.m on GBH-TV Channel 2, Boston’s PBS television station—with a simulcast on YouTube TV.
“Etched in Glass: The Legacy of Steve Ross” tells the incredible true story of Steve Ross and the American soldier who rekindled his spirit to live by showing him kindness and giving him a small American flag. Having endured five years in 10 different concentration camps, the teenage Ross was placed into an orphanage in Boston. He eventually became a psychologist and youth worker, helping to save the lives of hundreds of at-risk young people. In part, Ross wanted to emulate how that American soldier helped him find the will to live at the end of the war when he was ready to give up. Ross embarked on an emotional 67-year search to find and thank that soldier.
Ross became a fixture at swearing-in ceremonies for new U.S. citizens, where he would talk about American patriotism, tell the story of that heroic soldier’s act of kindness and display that same little American flag. Ross became the driving force, and founder, of the iconic New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, which features six tall glass towers with 6 million numbers etched in the glass, representing those numbers tattooed on the arms of 6 million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis.
“The remarkable life of Steve Ross, his endless determination, resilience and persistent fight against bigotry is a story that needed to be told in a full-length documentary,” said Roger Lyons, the film’s writer, producer and director. “The film has been extremely well-received at festivals, but after 17 years in and out of production, to finally have it air on WGBH-TV, one of the most prestigious television stations in the country, means thousands of people will experience the inspiring story of Steve Ross.”
Ross’ ability to survive the conditions in the camps was remarkable. The details of his rescue are powerfully emotional. His dedication to teens at risk is beautiful, his commitment to build the New England Holocaust Memorial is inspirational—and his search for the soldier who rescued him is heart-stopping.
In addition to mesmerizing interviews with Ross retelling his harrowing experiences as a boy, the film captures inspirational footage of Ross motivating inner-city high school students to believe in themselves and to stand up against bigotry. There are also emotional interviews with men whose lives were turned around with Ross’ support when they were at-risk teenagers.
“Steve Ross’ story exemplifies how an act of kindness, when matched with determination, can have a very positive impact on society,” said Lyons. “In a horrible time in our world history, Steve Ross was given a second chance and he paid it forward by giving a second chance to hundreds of youth in America who appeared to be lost causes. Unfortunately, we are still at a time where it is vital to have a film that helps to combat hate.”
“Etched in Glass” earned best documentary awards at the Rhode Island International Film Festival and Boston Jewish Film Festival. The film has also been screened as an educational tool at dozens of middle schools, high schools and colleges throughout New England.
Ross was rescued by the American soldier in 1945 and the New England Holocaust Memorial opened in 1995—meaning the WGBH-TV broadcast of the film marks the 75th anniversary of Ross’ liberation and the end of World War II—and this year is also the 25th anniversary of the Holocaust Memorial. Sadly, Ross died in February 2020. He was believed to have been 88 years old.
“Etched in Glass” was written, produced and directed by Lyons, a former Boston-area television executive and Governors Award recipient from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The film was co-produced and edited by award-winning filmmaker Tony Bennis. Allan Holzman, co-executive producer, is a Los Angeles-based producer/director who earned two Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award as director/editor of the Steven Spielberg documentary, “Survivors of the Holocaust.”
“Etched in Glass: The Legacy of Steve Ross” will be broadcast on GBH-TV Channel 2 on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 9 p.m. with a simulcast on YouTube TV. It will also air on GBX-TV Channel 44 on Sunday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 16, at 12 p.m.