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Spielberg Shows Holocaust CD-ROM

September 10, 1998

BERLIN (AP) _ Calling his work ``a monument against oblivion,″ German President Roman Herzog awarded American filmmaker Steven Spielberg one of Germany’s highest awards Thursday.

In presenting the Knight Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit to Spielberg, Herzog especially praised ``Schindler’s List,″ Spielberg’s Academy award-winning story of a non-Jewish industrialist who saved the lives of thousands of Jews during World War II.

``No other movie has been watched or discussed by as many school classes in Germany,″ Herzog said. ``That is why we Germans are especially grateful to you for this film. It is a monument against oblivion.″

About 500 people, including U.S. Ambassador to Germany John Kornblum, Israeli Ambassador Avi Primor and other dignitaries, attended the black-tie ceremony and reception at Bellevue Castle, Herzog’s residence in the capital.

Visibly moved by the award, Spielberg pressed his hand to his heart.

``This is just simply one of the greatest honors I’ve ever received in my life. If I knew a moment like this would come into my life before I made ‘Schindler’s List,’ I might have been too intimidated to make it,″ he said.

Earlier, Spielberg visited a Berlin school where he stressed to about 100 high school students the importance of passing lessons of history on to new generations. He underscored the admonition by presenting a new computer CD-ROM with testimony from Holocaust survivors.

``I consider all these people not only to be victims of the Holocaust, but also teachers,″ Spielberg said of the four Holocaust survivors whose stories are included on the CD-ROM.

The CD-ROM, narrated by Winona Ryder and Leonardo DiCaprio, was created by Spielberg’s Shoah Visual History Foundation, an archive of filmed interviews with Holocaust survivors. The project has gathered nearly 50,000 interviews in four years.

``It’s a race against time to get as many victims on tape as possible,″ Spielberg told the students, whose school will receive 100 copies of the CD-ROM next month.

Later, Spielberg said he was deeply impressed by the students’ reactions.

``We introduced our CD-ROM for the first time ever. We chose Berlin to introduce it. And these third-generation German young people made me so proud of them because they already understand the lessons of respect and tolerance,″ he said.

The English-language CD-ROM, called ``Survivors: Testimonies of the Holocaust,″ has been made available to U.S. schools for the fall semester. The interactive program weaves together archival footage with personal testimonies and photographs.

The CD-ROM will be available across Europe in October.

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