Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Steven Spielberg Has Collected Over 52,000 Holocaust Stories

The director’s USC Shoah Foundation has accumulated about 52,000 two-hour eyewitness accounts

By: Sarah Bauder

Published: May 2nd, 2014 in Culture » Society » News

Legendary Hollywood director, Steven Spielberg, has achieved an immaculate reputation for his many epic films including ‘Saving Private Ryan’, ‘Lincoln’, and ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’… but it was one specific movie experience that changed his life’s focus and passion forever.

In 1993, Spielberg released ‘Schindler’s List’, a poignant and honest look at the Holocaust and the remarkable man credited for saving the lives of 1,200 Jews. The film won him a Best Director award at the Academy Awards, but more importantly, inspired a mission – to record the emotional, devastating, and heartwarming World War II accounts of Holocaust survivors in hopes of preserving them for future generations.

Spielberg founded the USC Shoah Foundation, and over the past two decades, they have filmed over 52,000 two-hour eyewitness accounts in 34 languages and 58 countries, according to USA Today. Spielberg personally visited the homes of 66 Holocaust survivor’s to conduct interviews.

While speaking with USA Today, Spielberg said that “one of the greatest mitzvahs has been that survivors unwilling to speak to their children and grandchildren about what happened to them allowed not just their loved ones but the entire world to know their story. Video testimony is a tremendous tool of healing and understanding…. When young people come up to me and instead of saying they liked my last movie, they say, ‘My grandparents gave testimony in 1995.’ Hearing that makes me feel I was put on this earth to make a difference, not just in the lives of movie audiences. The testimonies help others hear stories that are not easy to tell or listen to.”

Spielberg revealed that beyond making the videos available online, the USC Shoah Foundation plans to disseminate their Holocaust video library to schools in 55 countries.

“Hopefully, one day ‘tolerance education’ will be a mandatory requirement in high schools. Just having an awareness of what discrimination and racial hatred can do motivates people to be a part of stopping it from ever happening again,” he told USA Today.

“I’m always bothered when people don’t celebrate what’s different about others. It should be a reason for curiosity, not racism, when someone doesn’t share what you believe in or look the way you and your friends look.”

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