Schindler’s List may have brought more attention to Holocaust victims than almost any other modern film, but its director continues to raise awareness to ensure that nothing similar ever happens again.
In a keynote address to the UN General Assembly session that marked the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Steven Spielberg implored members to learn from the lessons of World War II and act to prevent another genocide.
“Mass graves don’t have to open before we act,” Spielberg said Monday. “Genocide is an evil. But the greatest evil is when people who have been spared the horrors commit themselves to despair.”
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In 1994, Spielberg helped set up the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, also known as the Shoah Foundation, to record video testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the organization is a partner of the United Nations Outreach program.
In his speech Monday, Spielberg observed that those survivors have become “teachers to victims of recent genocide.”
“We know despair and remembering are a choice,” he said. “But we need to confront and act of what we learned.”
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Recounting his preparation for filming Schindler’s List, Spielberg said he originally hoped to offer a platform for survivors to be “heard, believed and understood,” even as he tried to understand the event’s devastating impact for himself.
“It took me years of directing sharks, aliens and dinosaurs before I felt ready to tackle the Holocaust,” he admitted.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, spurred his fellow members to action. “The Holocaust has taught us that remembrance without resolve is meaningless, he said. “Awareness must be matched with action.”
January 27 marks the date of The International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Listen to Shoah director Claude Lanzmann discuss his career and his latest work via Writers and Company from CBC Radio, on FilmOn.
And watch the Idiots Guide To Understanding Judaism And Jewish Culture on FilmOn Video On Demand.
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