Spielberg’s foundation collecting materials on Armenian Genocide

Spielberg’s foundation collecting materials on Armenian Genocide

PanARMENIAN.Net - Steven Spielberg isn't planning on making any more Holocaust movies. The Oscar-winning director is leaving that to the Shoah Foundation, Telegram.com reports.

After "Schindler's List," Spielberg turned his lens on real survivors of the World War II Jewish genocide through his foundation, which has since filmed nearly 52,000 testimonies from Holocaust survivors around the world. As the organization turns 20, it has expanded its mission to include interviews with survivors of other genocides, including those in Armenia, Cambodia and Rwanda.

Spielberg was inspired to create the foundation after meeting so many Holocaust survivors while making "Schindler's List," which tells the story of a German businessman who used his Nazi ties to rescue 1,100 Jews from the Holocaust. The film's greatest legacy isn't its seven Oscars, $300 million in worldwide box office or even its message of humanity, says the 67-year-old, but the ongoing work of the Shoah Foundation.

"It literally popped into my head on the drive back to my house in Krakow after a day of shooting the film that if 'Schindler's List' had any success at all, the success would not be a monetary, commercial one, but the success would be that this film would open a door for me to start taking as many testimonies as humanly possible," Spielberg said in a telephone interview on behalf of the organization, now known as USC Shoah Foundation — The Institute for Visual History and Education. He also wrote the introduction for a book commemorating its 20th anniversary, "Testimony: The Legacy of Schindler's List and the USC Shoah Foundation," which will be released next week.

Spielberg, who riled the film industry last year when he predicted "an implosion" of the Hollywood studio system spawned by mega-budget flops, declined to address those comments. But would a studio invest in a film like "Schindler's List" today?

"I have my own studio, so I would have just paid for it," he said. ''That's how 'Lincoln' got made."

His ongoing investment in the Shoah Foundation, though, may be the filmmaker's most meaningful.

"I'm very proud of this legacy," he said. ''I wouldn't trade this for anything in the world."

Amid his roster of projects, Spielberg stays close to the organization: "I'm basically like a doctor on call. I have everything but a beeper on my belt. When they need me, I'm there."

When he started the foundation in 1994, he just wanted to collect survivor testimonies to help silence the Holocaust deniers who'd popped up during the making of "Schindler's List." He never expected to get nearly 51,413 accounts in 34 languages from 58 countries.

"Movies at least have taught me that I don't have to be realistic about anything,'' he said.

Related links:
The Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide (1915-23) was the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterized by massacres, and deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of deaths reaching 1.5 million.

The majority of Armenian Diaspora communities were formed by the Genocide survivors.

Present-day Turkey denies the fact of the Armenian Genocide, justifying the atrocities as “deportation to secure Armenians”. Only a few Turkish intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk and scholar Taner Akcam, speak openly about the necessity to recognize this crime against humanity.

The Armenian Genocide was recognized by Uruguay, Russia, France, Lithuania, the Italian Chamber of Deputies, majority of U.S. states, parliaments of Greece, Cyprus, Argentina, Belgium and Wales, National Council of Switzerland, Chamber of Commons of Canada, Polish Sejm, Vatican, European Parliament and the World Council of Churches.

The Holocaust

The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. "Holocaust" is a word of Greek origin meaning "sacrifice by fire." The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were "racially superior" and that the Jews, deemed "inferior," were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.

The slaughter was systematically conducted in virtually all areas of Nazi-occupied territory in what are now 35 separate European countries. It was at its worst in Central and Eastern Europe, which had more than seven million Jews in 1939. About five million Jews were killed there, including three million in occupied Poland and over one million in the Soviet Union. Hundreds of thousands also died in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Yugoslavia and Greece. The Wannsee Protocol makes clear that the Nazis also intended to carry out their "final solution of the Jewish question" in England and Ireland.

 Top stories
Hejinian was born in Aleppo to parents who survived the genocide. At the age of 19, he went to Armenia to study art.
Artur Babajanyan received his training at the Armenian National Ballet School of Yerevan and at the Tanz Academy of Zurich.
“My Burberry is the true embodiment of our brand, in scent, in design and in attitude,” Burberry’s chief executive officer says.
“I have a feeling the society is open to talking about this now. It's not as much of a taboo,” Fatih Akin said.
Partner news