To overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry — and the suffering they cause — through the educational use of visual history testimonies.
Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation was established in 1994 by director Steven Spielberg to videotape the firsthand testimonies of Holocaust survivors and witnesses and make them accessible for educational uses. In the years since, the organization has taped nearly 52,000 testimonies in thirty-two languages and fifty-six countries, and the interviews, which are two to eighteen hours in length, are being compiled in a searchable database. More than 90 percent of those interviewed were Jewish Holocaust survivors; others include political prisoners, Jehovah's Witnesses, gypsies, homosexuals, Allied soldiers involved in liberating the camps, aid providers, and participants in war crimes trials. The organization has produced two CD-ROMs and eight documentary films, including the 1998 Academy Award-wining The Last Days.
Outstanding Web Features:
Launched in February 2002, the organization's Web site provides a list of countries and the corresponding number of people videotaped in each, as well as an Online Testimony Viewer that provides short clips of survivors who were children during the Holocaust. Testimonies are categorized by theme or common experience — prewar, hiding, ghettos, camps, liberation, and postwar — with two speakers in each category. To view the testimonies, you'll need a Mac or PC with a broadband Internet connection and the Flash Player (version 7)from Macromedia (a free download from the Macromedia site). Researchers may explore the actual digital Visual History Archive via an Internet2 connection through sites hosted by the University of Southern California, Rice University, and Yale University.