Spielberg gets $1 million federal grant for Shoah project

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

Spielberg's worldwide staff already has conducted more than 17,000 interviews in 28 countries, and expects to complete thousands more. Each interview is about two hours long.

"This really is a race against time," Spielberg said at a news conference Tuesday in Washington, noting that the majority of Holocaust survivors are in their 70s and 80s. "The window for capturing their testimonies is closing fast."

Spielberg said he wants to enlist additional financial support from countries such as Germany and Austria. Making those appeals will be easier now that the United States has agreed to help subsidize the project, he added.

Funding was approved by Congress and issued through the Department of Education.

Two Jewish senators, Barbara Boxer (D-Greenbrae) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), joined Spielberg in announcing the grant.

"For creating such an expansive and authoritative archive, Steven Spielberg and his entire team are performing a priceless service to history," Boxer said.

The interviews, when completed, will initially be available on computers at five locations, including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem.

Survivors can contact the foundation at (800) 661-2092.