Spielberg Recorded 52,000 Holocaust Survivor Stories

Thursday, 01 May 2014 01:14 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Movie director Steven Spielberg has spent the past two decades working on his most beloved film project – recording the emotional stories of thousands of holocaust survivors.

In that time, his USC Shoah Foundation has filmed about 52,000 two-hour eyewitness accounts in 34 languages and in 58 countries, according to USA Today.

Shoah means catastrophe in Hebrew, but the term is widely used in Israel to denote the slaughter of 6 million Jews by the Nazis during World War II. The Israeli Parliament has designated an official day, called Yom ha-Shoah, to commemorate the Shoah or Holocaust.

Spielberg himself conducted 66 interviews at Holocaust survivors' homes while he's also organized all the stories to be formatted for online use.

Spielberg told the newspaper, "One of the greatest mitzvahs [good deeds] 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.

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"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, who produced and directed such epic films as "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," "The Color Purple," "Jurassic Park" and "Schindler's List," revealed that his foundation is now planning to disseminate his 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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