Steven Spielberg issued a statement about the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas on Dec. 1, speaking out through a feature published by the Shoah Foundation in which he said, “I never imagined I would see such unspeakable barbarity against Jews in my lifetime.”
Spielberg also announced that the Shoah Foundation, which he founded in 1994, has launched the Countering Antisemitism Through Testimony Collection initiative to collect survivor testimony from the attacks. He described the initiative as “an effort that will ensure that the voices of survivors will act as a powerful tool to counter the dangerous rise of antisemitism and hate.”
The foundation has collected testimony from survivors of the Shoah, or the Holocaust, for decades. Spielberg continued, “”Holocaust survivors are the most courageous and brave among us, and their accounts are a lasting testament to the resilience of the human spirit.”
“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,” Spielberg concluded.
The director’s comments came weeks after thousands of survivors of the Holocaust sent letters demanding he release a statement. In one letter, the Holocaust Survivors’ Foundation USA David Schaecter wrote, “I, along with countless other Survivors, are so heartbroken that, since October 7, 2023, you have not spoken out and publicly taken a stand against terrorism, against Hamas and the millions who celebrate the shedding of Jewish blood.”
“Mr. Spielberg, ‘Schindler’s List’ was about one man having the moral courage to risk his life to save others,” the letter continued. “We are not asking you to risk your life. We are asking you to use your voice.”
“Take it from those of us who were subjected to the most brutal and deadly anti-Semitism of all time: It will never go away, and Jews will never be safe until Israel is safe and secure,” Schaecter continued.
Schaecter’s letter referenced Spielberg’s 1993 film about Oskar Schindler, a German business owner who saved the lives of hundreds of mostly Polish Jews during World War II. The movie was based on the 1982 book “Schindler’s Ark.”
It’s unclear why Spielberg waited nearly two months to issue a statement about what has been called the worst attack against Jews since the Holocaust itself.
In March 2023, the director told Stephen Colbert that he found the rise in antisemitism in the United States “very surprising” and said, “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 in Germany in the ’30s.”
“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, kind of daring us to defy it,” he continued. “I’ve never experienced this in my entire life, especially in this country.”