American pay-TV network Discovery Channel is to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day with a one-off special that will feature World War II veterans sharing their experiences of liberation.
Liberation Heroes: The Last Eyewitnesses will look to draw parallels between the past and the present by utilizing more than 55,000 testimonies of survivors and witnesses to the Holocaust and other genocidal events courtesy of the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive. The film serves as a cautionary tale of what can happen when “insidious hatred remains unchecked.”
Many of the interviews were recorded since the organization’s establishment in 1994 by Steven Spielberg following his experiences while filming the Academy Award-winning historical period drama Schindler’s List.
Directed by Academy- and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Vanessa Roth, the hour-long film serves as part of the USC Shoah Foundation’s 25th anniversary commemoration and its Stronger Than Hate Initiative.
“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,” said Andy Friendly, founder of Andy Friendly Productions, in a statement.
Liberation Heroes: The Last Eyewitnesses is produced by June Beallor Productions and Andy Friendly Productions in association with USC Shoah Foundation.
Mickey Shapiro, Stephen D. Smith and Andi Gitow serve as executive producers on the film alongside producers Friendly and June Beallor, a co-founding executive director of the Shoah Foundation.
Friendly’s late father, Fred Friendly, formerly served as president of CBS News, as well as a partner with Edward R. Murrow on the docuseries See It Now. Fred Friendly wrote about the horrors he experienced at the Mauthausen–Gusen concentration camp complex while covering the war as a Master Sergeant in the Army. Segments of Friendly’s “Mauthausen Letter” to his family and Murrow’s rarely heard radio report from Buchenwald are included in the documentary.
Liberation Heroes: The Last will premiere across Discovery Channel on May 1 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
“Liberation Heroes: The Last Eyewitnesses is a call to action to stand against hate in all forms,” added Discovery CEO David Zaslav. “These stories remind us of what can happen when religious, racial and ethnic hatred is unbridled.”