Prominent Jewish American Hollywood film director Steven Spielberg has initiated a new project with the aim to gather and document first-hand testimonies of Israelis who experienced and survived the unprecedented Hamas atrocities committed on Oct. 7, when some 3,000 terrorists belonging to the Islamic organization in Gaza massacred more than 1,200 Israeli Jews, mainly civilian men, women and children.
“I never imagined I would see such unspeakable barbarity against Jews in my lifetime,” Spielberg said, according to the USC Shoah Foundation, which currently hosts the world’s largest video collection of Holocaust survivors’ witness testimonies.
In a recent interview with Fox News, Spielberg said he has always been aware of the potential dangers with latent antisemitism.
“I find it very, very surprising, because antisemitism has always been there. It’s either been just around the corner and slightly out of sight, but always lurking, or it has been much more overt, like Germany in the 30s,” the famous director stated.
However, Spielberg stressed that the Hamas massacre of Jews in Israel and the current levels of global antisemitism are the worst since the rise of Nazism in Germany.
“But not since Germany in the 30s have I witnessed antisemitism no longer lurking but standing proud with hands on hips like Hitler and Mussolini,” he added.
On Oct. 7, Shaylee Atary Winner fled her home, together with her 4-week-old baby, when Hamas terrorists invaded her Kibbutz Kfar Aza, a rural community close to the Gaza Strip.
“When I was with Shaya in the garden shed, I told myself, ‘Shaylee, think about Holocaust films. What would a mother and a baby do?’ Because this is how it felt. I felt like they are actually running after me and Shaya, like she is prey. … No regular situation in my regular reality could be even close to what we [were going] through,” the Israeli mother recalled in her official testimony.
Winner is one of 130 interviewees who have so far given testimonies about the Oct. 7 atrocities. Hamas terrorists murdered her husband Yahav Winner, who sacrificed his life while assisting his wife and their baby to escape.
Spielberg emphasized that the overall purpose of his documentary work is to combat the global increase in Jew-hatred.
“Both initiatives – recording interviews with survivors of the October 7 attacks and the ongoing collection of Holocaust testimony – seek to fulfill our promise to survivors; that their stories would be recorded and shared in the effort to preserve history and to work toward a world without antisemitism or hate of any kind,” said Spielberg.
The famous Hollywood film director has long-supported initiatives to combat Jewish antisemitism. The Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive, established at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the 1960s to document the Jewish Holocaust, was given a generous donation by Spielberg in 1987, at which time is was renamed after the director.
While the scale of the crimes is different, some Holocaust experts have compared the brutality and barbarism of Hamas' massacre with Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.
Just like Holocaust denial is a growing problem, Israel and the Jewish people have already begun to combat the whitewashing – and even complete denial of – the recent Hamas attack. Documentation with firsthand witness testimonies is crucial in both cases.
The number of Holocaust survivors is dwindling rapidly due to their advanced age, with the youngest survivors being close to 80 years old.
In April, A digital Holocaust remembrance project, “Memory in the Living Room” (Zikaron Basalon), has addressed this challenge by producing virtual holographic recordings of Holocaust survivors’ testimonies for the benefit of posterity.
While initially skeptical, Holocaust survivor Deborah Weinstein said she was eventually impressed with the holographic documentation of her oral testimony.
“I was initially unsure about how my life story would be presented through a hologram,” Weinstein admitted. “However, when I saw it for the first time, I was amazed at how lifelike it appeared. It felt like an extension of myself,” she concluded.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.