The largest audiovisual collection of its kind in the world, the Holocaust Collection is composed of nearly 52,000 WWII era testimonies of Jewish survivors, political prisoners, Sinti and Roma (Gypsy) survivors, Jehovah's Witness survivors, survivors of eugenics policies, and homosexual survivors, as well as rescuers and aid providers, liberators, and participants in war crimes trials.
Through a program called Preserving the Legacy, USC Shoah Foundation digitizes, indexes, and integrates into the Visual History Archive Holocaust testimony taken and owned by other museums and institutions to make them more accessible to scholars, students, educators, and the general public. Efforts are underway to collect as many as 3,000 new life stories in this fashion.
USC Shoah Foundation has also partnered with USC Institute for Creative Technologies and Conscience Display to conceive and design a cutting-edge technology called Dimensions in Testimony, which enables people to interact with a projected image of a real Holocaust survivor, who responds to questions asked in real time.
With this endeavor, a handful of Holocaust survivors who have already sat before a camera for USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive are giving testimony again. This time, however, they sit before 50 cameras arranged in a rig to capture a three-dimensional recording of them telling their stories in a new way, by answering questions that people are most likely to ask. Funding for Dimensions in Testimony was provided in part by Pears Foundation and Louis. F. Smith.
Filmed on location at authentic historic sites, 360-degree testimonies use the latest technology with a single camera that captures the interviewee and the surrounding location in a single shot. By capturing the full scene, the viewer can explore the environment while watching the survivor share his or her story, adding a dimension of meaning to the experience.
The locations might include a childhood home, a European city block that was once a Jewish ghetto, the site of a former Nazi concentration camp and other places of key significance to the survivor’s personal history. By capturing the full scene, the viewer can explore the environment while watching the survivor share his or her story.
USC Shoah Foundation has filmed 360-degree testimonies of several Holocaust survivors in these locations. One was turned into a pioneering VR film, “The Last Goodbye,” which transports viewers inside the Nazi death camp Majdanek in Poland with Pinchas Gutter, the only member of his family of four to survive the Holocaust.