As part of USC Shoah Foundation’s 25th Anniversary commemoration, its Stronger Than Hate Initiative and in observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Discovery Channel will air the documentary, Liberation Heroes: The Last Eyewitnesses, Wednesday, May 1, at 7pm ET/4pm PT.
In the one-hour documentary, heroic veterans vividly share their World War II liberation experiences in their own words, drawing parallels between the past and the present. By illuminating the powerful stories of these key eyewitnesses, the film shares their cautionary tale of what can happen when insidious hatred remains unchecked.
The film makes use of a unique portion of USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive, a collection of 55,000 testimonies of survivors and witnesses to the Holocaust and other genocidal events. Many of the interviews were recorded since 1994 with the organization established by Steven Spielberg after his experiences filming Schindler’s List.
“Discovery is proud to shine a light on these remarkable stories of heroism, which serve as a solemn reminder for audiences everywhere to never forget,” said David Zaslav, CEO, Discovery. “Liberation Heroes: The Last Eyewitnesses is a call to action to stand against hate in all forms. These stories remind us of what can happen when religious, racial and ethnic hatred is unbridled.”
Stephen D. Smith, Finci-Viterbi Executive Director of USC Shoah Foundation and Executive Producer of the documentary said, “Our work with Discovery Communications and their team at Discovery Education for more than five years around our educational programming has touched more than half a billion people worldwide. It is an honor to continue our efforts with Discovery to share the stories of the witnesses to history and deliver our Stronger Than Hate message to future generations.”
The film is made possible with the generous support of Mickey Shapiro, a longtime Executive Board member of the USC Shoah Foundation.
The documentary is directed by award-winning filmmaker Vanessa Roth, whose work has been honored with an Oscar®, a special Emmy Award for social impact, and the Alfred I DuPont-Columbia Award, among others. Produced by veteran Emmy-nominated TV and news producer and executive Andy Friendly, and Produced by June Beallor, a Co-Founding Executive Director of Shoah Foundation — whose films have garnered numerous awards including an Oscar, numerous Emmys and the George Foster Peabody Award.
“The mission of the documentary is not only a celebration and remembrance of the last heroic eyewitnesses to one of mankind’s darkest moments, but it is also their enduring final plea and message to never stand idly by – and in the face of the dramatic rise of intolerance around the world, this message is more relevant than ever,” Friendly said.
Andy’s late father, Fred Friendly, was a celebrated broadcast journalist and former President of CBS News, as well as Edward R. Murrow’s partner. The late Friendly wrote about the horrors he experienced at Mauthausen while covering the war as a Master Sergeant in the Army. Fred Friendly’s historic “Mauthausen Letter” to his family and Murrow’s rarely heard radio report from Buchenwald are included in the documentary.
Liberation Heroes: The Last Eyewitnesses is presented by June Beallor Productions and Andy Friendly Productions in association with USC Shoah Foundation for Discovery Channel. The film is Directed by Vanessa Roth and Executive Produced by Mickey Shapiro, Stephen D. Smith and Andi Gitow.