Spielberg's Schindler's List Archive Transferred to Poland

Testimonies of 52,000 interviewees in 57 countries arrive at Jewish museum, where they await digitization.

Roman Frister
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Roman Frister

WARSAW -- The archive of Steven Spielberg's film Schindler’s List was transferred this week from California to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.

Dozens of boxes that over six years were filled with testimonies were unloaded in the museum’s plaza on Sunday and Monday.

The testimonies, which were collected from 52,000 interviewees in 57 countries, though mostly from the United States, are of inestimable historical value. They tell not only about the conditions of life and death during the Holocaust, but also about the lives of Jews, Roma, homosexuals and Hitler’s political opponents during the years before World War II.

Another part of Jewish history in Poland is the forced exodus of Jews during communist rule, which took place in 1968 when the country’s leader, Wladislaw Gomulka, called them a “fifth column.” Most of them went to Israel.

The task of sorting and digitizing all of the documents was estimated to require some 120,000 hours, so the team of sorters will select only the most historically significant testimonies to convert.

In the first stage, the museum’s educational coordinator will prepare brief instruction plans for teachers and students. The Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture, founded and headed by American businessman Tad Taube, donated the sophisticated servers that will store the newly-digitized testimonies.

During the making of Schindler’s List, much of which was filmed in Krakow, Spielberg met with numerous Holocaust survivors. These meetings gave rise to his wish to preserve their stories for posterity. For this purpose, he established the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. On seeing that he could not handle the volume of work, he transferred the foundation to the University of Southern California. The archive is now officially known as the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education.

‘Schindler’s List’ (1993)
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg, Oct. 3, 2013.Credit: AP