Filmmaker Steven Spielberg told the New York Times in 1993 that he was once ashamed to be a Jew. The young Spielberg and his family moved from Ohio to Arizona to California, and often times they were the only Jewish family in the neighborhood.
“I was embarrassed, I was self-conscious, I was always aware I stood out because of my Jewishness,” the director told the NYTimes. “In high school, I got smacked and kicked around. Two bloody noses. It was horrible.” His family had direct ties to the Holocaust: relatives died in Poland and Ukraine.
Spielberg famously brought “Schindler’s List,” a film that is the true account of a man who risked everything to save Jews in his town. Based on Thomas Keneally’s prize-winning 1982 book, the film starred Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler, a German-Catholic businessman and Nazi Party member who moved to Cracow after the German invasion of Poland. He earned a fortune on black-market deals. But Schindler was also a humanist horrified by the truth of Nazi Germany.
Schindler’s List was given to Mr. Spielberg in 1982 by Sid J. Sheinberg, then the president of MCA. It was Mr. Sheinberg who gave Spielberg, then 20 years-old, his leg up after a screening of “Amblin,” about two hitchhikers.
Twenty years after “Schindler’s List” raised popular consciousness about the Holocaust, Maria Shriver sits down with Steven Spielberg for an exclusive interview on TODAY.
Spielberg has launched a new project called, I Witness, which tells the true stories of genocide survivors.