BERLIN – Steven Spielberg gave a moving speech on Tuesday night when he was awarded an honorary Golden Bear at the 73rd Berlinale, in which he spoke about his Jewish identity and the Holocaust.
“This honor has particular meaning for me because I’m a Jewish director. I’d like to believe that this is a small moment in a much larger, ongoing effort of healing the broken places of history – what Jews call Tikkun Olam, the repairing and restoring of the world.”
The world’s most celebrated director, who won an Oscar for Schindler’s List, the story of a German saving Jews during the Holocaust, said, “I established The Shoah Foundation because I’m convinced that what historian Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi wrote is true: The opposite of justice is not injustice. The opposite of justice is forgetting. Reconciliation is possible only when we remember what’s happened. Germany has long been an essential partner in the Shoah Foundation’s work. Private citizens and the German government and the Berlin Film Festival have joined us in gathering and interviewing witnesses, introducing documentaries, spreading educational materials and helping us make our archives widely available in Germany.
Spielberg, who was introduced by U2 frontman Bono, went on to say, “The German people have shown themselves willing to read their country’s history, to confront its lessons regarding antisemitism, bigotry and xenophobia - the harbingers of a holocaust. Other countries, including my own, can learn a lot from the courageous determination of the German people to act to prevent fascists from seizing power. A nation can be called just only if it refuses the convenient amnesia that tempts us all. After the 20th Century, maybe no nation should flatter or delude itself that it deserves to be called just. But we shouldn’t deny the possibility of justice. We shouldn’t stop pursuing it. That pursuit is our best hope for finding meaning in life. And it begins with remembering.”
The Berlinale is featuring a retrospective of Spielberg’s movies, as well as the German premiere of his Oscar-nominated coming-of-age drama, The Fabelmans, which details the antisemitism he experienced growing up. The director says he plans to keep making movies as long as he can.