WASHINGTON (Jul. 24)
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg has received a $1 million federal grant to continue his project to record testimony from thousands of Holocaust survivors around the world.
Spielberg established the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation in 1994, the year he won an Oscar for the film “Schindler’s List.”
The three-year, $60 million project, Spielberg said, is intended to ensure that the faces, names and personal stories of the Holocaust will be seen and heard long after the last witnesses are gone.
Spielberg’s worldwide staff has already conducted more than 17,000 interviews in 28 countries, and expects to complete thousands more. Each interview is about two hours in length.
“This really is a race against time,” Spielberg said at a news conference Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol, noting that the majority of Holocaust survivors are in their 70s and 80s. “The window for capturing their testimonies is closing fast.”
Spielberg said he wants to enlist additional financial support from countries such as Germany and Austria. Making those appeals will be easier now that the United States has agreed to help subsidize the project, he added.
Funding was approved by Congress and issued through the Department of Education.
Two Jewish senators, Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), joined Spielberg in announcing the grant.
“For creating such an expansive and authoritative archive, Steven Spielberg and his entire team are performing a priceless service to history,” Boxer said.
The interviews, when completed, will initially be available on computers at five locations, including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem. Survivors can contact the foundation at (800) 661-2092.