Shoah Foundation launches project to document ‘unspeakable barbarity’ of October 7

130 accounts gathered so far from survivors of Hamas massacre to add to collection of Holocaust testimony; founder Steven Spielberg laments: Antisemitism is again 'standing proud'

Director Steven Spielberg expresses shock at the atrocities of Hamas terrorists against the Jewish people on October 7 in announcing a project to document its horrors (Screenshot: Fox News, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The USC Shoah Foundation, which was founded by director Steven Spielberg, has begun collecting video testimonies of the atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists against Israelis on October 7, to add to the collection of Holocaust survivor and witness testimony.

Spielberg is not directly involved in the effort but spoke out strongly in support.

“I never imagined I would see such unspeakable barbarity against Jews in my lifetime,” Spielberg was quoted as saying by the foundation, which holds the world’s largest video collection of Holocaust survivor and witness testimony.

Speaking to Fox News about the effort, Spielberg expressed shock at the violence perpetrated by Hamas terrorists against Israelis, along with the wave of antisemitism around the world in the past two months.

“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,” he said.

“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,” Spielberg said.

The US-based organization is now collaborating with production teams in Israel to collect witness accounts of the massacres on October 7, when some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people, most of them civilians slaughtered amid brutal atrocities, and seizing over 240 hostages.

Blood is seen splattered in a child’s room following the October 7 Hamas massacre, at Kibbutz Nir Oz, October 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

In an article released early November announcing the effort, the foundation cited the testimony of Shaylee Atary Winner, who escaped from her home on Kibbutz Kfar Aza with her four-week-old baby early in the morning of October 7.

Her husband Yahav Winner was murdered by terrorists while he was helping his wife and baby escape.

“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,” Shaylee said in her testimony.

Atary Winner’s testimony is one of 130 interviews recorded so far as part of the October 7 survivor testimony collection effort, which will be accessible to the public online via the foundation’s Visual History Archive in the USC Shoah Foundation’s Countering Antisemitism Through Testimony Collection (CATT), which documents post-Holocaust antisemitism.

Spielberg, who founded the organization in 1994, believes that the effort will “ensure that the voices of survivors will act as a powerful tool to counter the dangerous rise of antisemitism and hate.”

The initiative comes during a surge of antisemitism around the world as Israel fights the Hamas terror group in Gaza. Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas in response to the October 7 massacre, launching a campaign that has left vast swaths of the Strip in ruins.

The number of Gazan civilians killed in the war has drawn international criticism and pressure on Israel, along with a rise in antisemitic incidents and attacks around the world.

“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 said.

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