A special issue of The Hollywood Reporter featuring the remaining 11 Holocaust survivors who went on to build careers in Los Angeles’ entertainment industry hits newsstands Wednesday.
The extensive “Last Survivors” editorial feature took seven months to produce and includes an reflective introductory essay by Hollywood mogul Steven Spielberg, who, following the release of his “Schindler’s List” film, founded the USC Shoah Foundation in 1994 to videotape and preserve interviews with survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust. The foundation’s Institute for Visual History and Education has expanded to include testimonies from the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi Genocide, the 1937 Nanjing Massacre and the Armenian Genocide that coincided with World War I.
Also in the special issue is an exclusive interview with acclaimed and controversial director Roman Polanski, who survived the war as a child by escaping the Krakow ghetto and wandering the countryside, sometimes posing as a Catholic child when Polish families sheltered him.
THR will also publish a never-before-seen video testimony made by Polanski a decade ago, in which he describes how painful it was for him to make “The Pianist,” a historical drama starring Adrien Brody based on a memoir by Jewish-Polish composer Władysław Szpilman about how he survived deportation to concentration camps and the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto.
The special issue includes the personal stories and video testimonials of the 11 survivors, as well as photographic portraits of them by photographer Wesley Mann. In addition to Polanski, the survivors featured include “Schindler’s List” producer Branko Lustig, sex therapist and media personality Dr. Ruth Westheimer, “The Hindenburg” and “I Spy” actor Curt Lowens, and “Hogan’s Heroes” star Robert Clary.
Entertainment scholar and journalist Neal Gabler also contributes an essay exploring why—despite the entertainment industry’s having been built by Jews, including many WWII-era immigrants—Hollywood did not begin producing films dealing with the Holocaust until decades later.
“The Last Survivors” runs in the January 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, which is available in print and on the magazine’s website beginning December 16.