North Dakota hero of Holocaust comes to Fargo Theatre

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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - "Who would have thought that someone from North Dakota would have been giving out visas and making an effort to bring over the Jews from Germany?"

One Holocaust survivor poses the question in the new film, “The Mission of Herman Stern,” which premieres Tuesday night at the Fargo Theatre.

And that's exactly what Herman Stern did during World War II, after previously establishing a home here in North Dakota in the early 1900s.

Stern’s grandson—Rick Stern—says he had the fortune of knowing his grandfather well.

"My grandfather's role in helping to save 125 Jews from Germany and Austria who were desperate to escape," he said.

And maybe it's a good time for reflection. The FBI's 2016 hate crime statistics show that of some 1538 religious offenses, more than half are anti-Jewish at 862.

Herman Stern's grandchildren say it speaks to the film's significance.

"I think that it's important to remember what one person can do to combat prejudices and to overcome prejudices," Rick Stern said.

"People who don't believe that the Holocaust occurred and don't believe that...all kinds of people were murdered by the Germans in the time leading up to World War II...it can help to remind people that this is history, this stuff really happened," Rick’s brother, Jim Stern, said.

And despite the high anti-Jew numbers, Rick Stern says history's repeating itself--with other religions.

"You throw in the whole immigration thing, you can substitute, you know, Muslims, Somalis, Sudanese, Iraqis for Jews now...and they just want what my grandfather wanted when he came over, and what the people he brought over, they wanted a better life for themselves and their family," he said.

And, he says, to make this country better.