Barton Nagata, a Japanese American, lived in Hawaii for most of his early life. When Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japan during World War II, he was attending college in Iowa. Because Nagata couldn’t return to Hawaii during the war, he joined the military and served in the division that liberated Dachau, one of the first Nazi concentration camps opened during the Holocaust.
Nagata’s story is one of many told by soldiers who helped liberate genocide survivors, documented in “Liberation” broadcast from Comcast, in collaboration with the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research.
The broadcast series documents not only the soldiers, but also those liberated from the Holocaust, according to Lauren Carter, the Shoah Foundation’s media production manager.
“Liberation” was released to Comcast on-demand subscribers on Wednesday, and the program is the fourth in a yearly collaboration between the foundation and Comcast, where Shoah Foundation testimonies are paired with a feature film.
This year, the “Liberation” theme pairs the 1998 film Saving Private Ryan with testimonies from the Shoah Visual History Archive. It will also include the documentary feature Liberators: Why We Fought.
“We’re really taking the next seven weeks to focus on liberation and [its complexities],” Carter said. “Not all of [the testimonies are from] liberators themselves, but also those who are liberated, and [they address] what it means to be free, what it means to be a refugee in your home country. A lot of these topics that are relevant to topics we’re looking at today — it’s very interesting how history repeats itself.”
The program will be available on Comcast until Dec. 29.
Carter said the foundation chose to focus on the theme of liberation because it fits well with the upcoming holidays.
According to Carter, the seven-week period that the show will be available to Comcast subscribers spans Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and goes into December, which is different than previous years.
“This ‘Liberation’ theme has fit very well with Veteran’s Day, and being able to make that connection to those who have served in the armed forces. And Thanksgiving, giving thanks for those who have [gone] above and beyond themselves and done these incredible acts in the service of strangers.”
Along with the content available to Comcast subscribers, the Shoah Foundation also created a microsite around the theme of liberation, which includes more Visual History Archive testimonies, as well as primary documents surrounding the theme of liberation, such as a letter written by an American soldier detailing life during World War II.
“[The viewer] will be able to … really delve more into the material, see other testimonies, potential educational applications of [the] testimony, how that testimony is impacting modern life, blog posts [and] all kinds of different content available there,” Carter said.
Previous years’ collaborative themes have included “The Miracle of Music,” which focused on how music helped Holocaust survivors in concentration camps, and “Defiance,” which revealed how some victims chose to rebel against fascist rule while in concentration camps, Carter said.
The Shoah Foundation is currently in its fourth year of a five-year partnership with Comcast to provide these programs, but Carter said the foundation hopes to continue and expand the partnership for years to come.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story stated that the “Liberation” broadcast is from the USC Shoah Foundation. The broadcast is from Comcast, in collaboration with the foundation. The Daily Trojan regrets this error.