After creating Schindler’s List, the film which is likely America’s—perhaps the world’s—surest narrative lifeline to the Holocaust, director Steven Spielberg began the daunting project of creating the Shoah Foundation, an archive of video testimonies from survivors and other eyewitnesses. Testimony, a new volume commemorating the film’s twenty-year anniversary and the foundation’s activities, is out this spring.
The book is an odd hybrid, devoting half its bulk to a “making-of” chronicle, highlighting Spielberg’s efforts at authenticity and the emotional toil of making the film, and the half the story of building the Foundation. The best previously unseen artifacts in the Schindler section are probably the photos of actors next to the survivors they portray.
In the smattering of interviews and photos throughout Testimony, Spielberg comes off as a visionary, both in his determination to make a black-and-white film about the Holocaust regardless of its marketability and in his commitment to preserving survivors’ testimonies. One might say he’s made good on his vision: Testimony features a handful of profiles on the 50,000-plus subjects the Foundation has interviewed, including a few Schindlerjuden. Nice job coming full circle, Mr. Spielberg.
Watch a clip of some of the Jews Schindler saved: