Blog: Through Testimony

Posts are contributed by individual authors. The opinions are solely the authors’ and are not necessarily a reflection of the views of USC Shoah Foundation.

By Rennie Svirnovskiy (November 2, 2017)

About four years ago, still in high school and bussing tables at my first job, I found out that management hands you bigger tips at the end of the night when they see the big table in the corner harass you. Because those tips, they said, were left for you. What are you going to question that for?

By Rennie Svirnovskiy (October 19, 2017)

Though USC Shoah Foundation specializes in maintaining thousands of recorded testimonies in its Visual History Archive, many of the Institute’s interviewees have also published memoirs and autobiographies.

By Svetlana Ushakova (September 14, 2017)

On July 30, 1937 the head of Soviet secret police Nikolai Ezhov signed the order that started a mass punitive operation against their own citizens.

By Deanna Hendrick (August 28, 2017)

For the last four years, I have had the incredible opportunity to share the story of USC Shoah Foundation. I joined the communications team in July 2013 to manage the social media accounts for the Institute. I was excited to work at such an esteemed institution that was making a difference in the world.

By Blake Humphrey (August 17, 2017)

When I visited Nazi death camps in 2014, I viewed spaces filled with the spirits of so many lives lost and witnessed the end result of evil, intolerance, and hatred. I left the gas chambers at Auschwitz and Majdanek that summer thinking that the sick, twisted ideology that drove the Nazis and was fueled by hatred and ignorance no longer existed in the 21st Century, especially in the United States. I naively believed Nazi ideology had ceased to exist with the end of World War II and the Holocaust.

By Martha Stroud (August 8, 2017)

After a long period of neglect, the study of genocides against indigenous populations is becoming an increasingly larger part of the field of genocide studies.

By Monika Koszyńska (August 1, 2017)

What are the pillars of modern democracy and how can democracy be defended in days of crisis?

By Martin Šmok (July 20, 2017)

A friend asked me whether I could help her with something. She knew I work with testimonies of Holocaust survivors in education and thought I could help her. We met over a coffee in a hipster place. There, she told me that her son suddenly started talking about Hitler.

By Megan Arizmendi (June 29, 2017)

The Fourth of July has become an annual norm for me - filled with hot dogs and hamburgers, red white and blue. However, this year is a bit different for me. Working at USC Shoah Foundation has opened my eyes, and taught me that this holiday goes far beyond the parties and decorations.

By Lesly Culp (June 15, 2017)

Summer might be a break for students, but as an educator, I know teachers are busy enhancing their skills and knowledge to improve their curriculum and students’ overall experience in their classrooms.

By Marisa Fox-Bevilacqua (May 5, 2017)

I had interviewed dozens of Gabersdorf survivors, discovered there had been 10 other women’s slave labor camps in Trutnov, then Trautenau, Sudetenland and that the 5,000 Polish Jewish women trafficked to Trutnov were among the first to be imprisoned in Nazi camps and the last to be liberated, on May 8th--9th, 1945. Didn’t they deserve to be honored, too?

By Luis Hernandez (May 3, 2017)

Drag Queen, talented businessman and my icon RuPaul once stated, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?”

By Shael Rosenbaum (May 1, 2017)

One would think that the grandson of four Polish Holocaust survivors would have an in-depth knowledge of the Shoah, but it was quite the contrary. The Holocaust was a topic that was never discussed when I was growing up.

By Stephen Smith (April 21, 2017)

At this time of remembrance, I hope I am incorrect in thinking that public awareness of the Shoah is eroding. Information about this act of atrocity is still proliferating, so unawareness clearly cannot be attributed to absent knowledge.

By Deanna Hendrick (April 10, 2017)

Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah as it’s known in Hebrew, commemorates and honors the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. This year, people around the world will remember the victims of the Holocaust April 23- 24, 2017.

By Deanna Hendrick (March 31, 2017)

Educators share how they teach with eyewitness testimony for April's Genocide Awareness Month.

By Luis Hernandez (March 28, 2017)

Through testimony of genocide survivors from the Visual History Archive, it is possible to examine how stereotypes manifest into society and fuel prejudice.

By Deanna Hendrick (March 13, 2017)

During a recent Twitter chat, #IWitnessChat hosted by Discovery Education, teachers shared how they are integrating the IWitness Video Challenge into their classrooms. Explore their insights and tips to help encourage your students to participate in the 2017 IWitness Video Challenge.

By Svetlana Ushakova (March 7, 2017)

In the collective memory, the February Revolution has faded or been mixed with the October Revolution, which happened eight months later and defined the trajectory of the Russian history for the next 70 years. However, the memory of the February Revolution is preserved in several eyewitness testimonies to the Holocaust in the Visual History Archive.

By Caroline Waters (February 23, 2017)

My friends Allison (Ally) Vandal, Maya Montell and I worked with our fabulous teacher, Emily Bengels, to create a group called Poet’s Undercover Guild (PUG). With this “guild”, we drew inspiration from testimony found in USC Shoah Foundation’s educational platform, IWitness to create our winning video “A Community of Poetry.”

By Maya Montell (February 16, 2017)

As a teenager, it is hard to know how I can make a difference in the world. Fourteen-year-olds don’t drive, we don’t make a lot of money, and with school, homework and extracurricular activities, we don’t have a lot of time. When my teacher, Ms. Bengels, introduced me to a challenge that was not only about bettering the community, but also a way in which I could use my passion for documentary filmmaking, I leapt at the opportunity. The IWitness Video Challenge not only allowed me to pursue my passion but also encourage me to make a difference.

By Peg Levine (February 13, 2017)

I recently was an expert witness from October 11-13, 2016, at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in Phnom Penh, the so-called Khmer Rouge Tribunal that was established in 2001.

By Allison Vandal (February 9, 2017)

Middle school can be complicated. As students, we are preparing to go into high school, making new friends, going to our first dances, and unfortunately for too many of us having to deal with constant bullying. While there are those who might be the perpetrators and victims, there are many of us who are the bystanders and it is our duty to stand up against any form of discrimination. I learned through Holocaust survivor testimony that there are many ways to stand up for others.

By Rennie Svirnovskiy (February 7, 2017)

What I’ve learned, looking back at my family history and while working at USC Shoah Foundation, is how to do resistance. That’s how you do resistance. You see injustice and you tirelessly fight against it.

By Olga Burkhardt (February 3, 2017)

For a German like myself, International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a day that is both intensely private and profoundly public.

By Stephen Smith (January 31, 2017)

At a first glance The Yellow Spot: The Extermination of the Jews in Germany is a book about the Holocaust. But in fact, it was published in 1936, after just three years of Nazi rule — and a full five years before the first gas chambers were commissioned for the murder of European Jewry. The authors spend 287 pages detailing a series of laws and actions taken against the Jews. Their conclusion was that the “legal disability” being imposed by the Nazis upon the Jews ultimately would result in their elimination. (Originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.)

By Ulrika Citron (January 26, 2017)

The Holocaust is inarguably the most heinous crime against a group of people we have seen in modern times. Despite decades of wrestling with how such an atrocity could have occurred and the postwar generation promising never again, history keeps repeating itself. Therefore, the collection and the custody of testimonies from those who bear witness remains a necessary task for as long as inhumanities keep occurring. Genocide and crimes against humanity transcend religions, cultures, languages, geographic regions, socioeconomics, gender, age, etc., making testimony collection across all cultures not only a moral responsibility, but imperative given the mission of USC Shoah Foundation. We know for sure that under a certain set of circumstances, genocide could happen anywhere, and again.

By Deanna Hendrick (January 25, 2017)

As an educator you might be thinking how to get started with the IWitness Video Challenge. How do you encourage your students to make a difference? How do you incorporate video editing? Well, we have the answers to these questions from actual IWitness educators.

By Emily Bengels (December 22, 2016)

This morning, I stood at attention as our select chorus sang the Star Spangled Banner. Looking at the flag in the middle school auditorium, I paused a moment to feel gratitude for growing up in a country where I have the right to define and redefine myself. I grew up believing I could become whoever I wanted to be. The flag stood tall, as did I. Thank goodness, I thought, that I live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

By Holly Blackwelder (December 12, 2016)

On Thursday, Oct. 27th, I witnessed history in the making. Nanjing Massacre survivor Xia Shuqin flew from Nanjing, China to Los Angeles to record a 3-D audiovisual testimony in Mandarin for USC Shoah Foundation’s New Dimensions in Testimony. For those of you who watched USC Shoah Foundation’s Instagram story that day, I was the intern behind the camera.

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Ingrid Alexovics blog author
  Lauren Fenech and Steffanie Grotz
Lesly Culp
Ivana Hajičová
Orli Robin