Blog: Through Testimony

10 MORE Unique Facts about the Visual History Archive

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 9:35am -- deanna.pitre

Contributor: Sandra Aguilar

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 9:35am

The Visual History Archive contains 53,000 eyewitness testimonies to genocide and mass atrocities. What you might not know is that each testimony is indexed to the minute with over 62,000 keys words in the entire Archive. USC Shoah Foundation commemorates National Archives Month this November by participating in #AskAnArchivist Day on Thurs., Oct. 1, and sharing 10 more unique facts about the Visual History Archive.

  1. There are about 1,600 full length video testimonies viewable online via Testimony videos are from survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust, Armenian Genocide, 1937 Nanjing Massacre in China, and the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi Genocide.

Collections of the Visual History Archive








2. At the end of his testimony Jewish survivor and Danish comedian Victor Borge plays a lullaby on the piano. Borge’s entire testimony is available in the Visual History Archive Online.

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Days of Remembrance: Victor Borge

Language: English

Victor Borge was originally born in Copenhagen, but fled to Sweden once Nazis occupied Denmark during World War II. He managed to escape to the United States in 1940 on one of the last neutral ships leaving Europe. While in the U.S, Borge went on to become a famous comedian, conductor, and pianist. In this clip, he is playing a lullaby written by one of his father’s friends.

3. Many testimonies contain messages for future generations. You can listen some by searching with the exact phrase with the terms ‘future message.’ One future message can be heard on Irena Abraham’s at segment 27.
4. There are different experiences in the Holocaust collection including Jewish survivors, Roma and Sinti survivors, liberators, aid providers, homosexual survivors and Jehovah Witness survivors. There are five Jehovah’s Witness survivor testimonies available in the Visual History Archive Online including Robert Wagemann’s who talks about freedom of religion and his mother’s refusal to renounce her faith.  
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Robert Wagemann Discusses Medical Treatment of Disabled Children

Language: English

Robert Wagemann remembers being a physically handicapped child during World War II. Doctors often preferred euthanizing children with physical disabilities rather than keep them alive. Robert describes how his mother helped him escaped a facility, saving his life.

5. New indexing terms will be introduced into the Visual History Archive later this year including “anger,” “love,” “despair,” “loneliness,” “pride” and “gratitude.”
6. In April 2015 USC Shoah Foundation integrated 60 testimonies to the Armenian Genocide. The entire Armenian Genocide Testimony Collection is comprised of 400 video interviews.
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Armenian Genocide Survivor Sam Kadorian

Language: English

Sam Kadorian remembers the separation and killings of Armenian families during the 1915 genocide.



7. Testimonies in the Visual History Archive tell a complete personal history of life before, during and after the interviewee’s firsthand experience with genocide.
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Roman Kent's Life History

Language: English

Three different video clips from Roman Kent's tesitmony including life before, during and after the Holocaust.

8. Do you want to know more about the genocide in Rwanda and anti-Tutsi prejudice? I recommend this powerful testimony clip from Tutsi Survivor Kizito Kalima. His entire testimony is available on the Visual History Archive Online.
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Kizito Kalima on Ethnic Differences

Language: English

9.  At the end of most testimonies, the interviewees had the chance to share photos including before the war and after with their children and families. Now there are over 600,000 images in the Archive. Below are images from the testimonies of Celina Biniaz (left), Maria Altman (top right) and Eva Kor (bottom right).
Photos from survivor testimonies
10.  In addition to the keywords, names of individuals are also indexed including family members, perpetrators, liberators, rescuers, friends and even dignitaries. Now there are over 1 million names mentioned in the Archive. 
Bonus: The Visual History Archive By the Numbers

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.

About Sandra Aguilar

USC Shoah Foundation archivist Sandra Aguilar interprets and formats information and details about the interviewees and the interviews to be brought into the database systems of the Visual History Archive. She is also a liaison between USC Shoah Foundation’s research specialists and database programmers to develop ways for the testimonies to be searched and experienced.

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