Journeys Through the Holocaust

[English | French]

A journey, in the most literal and simplistic sense involves movement from one place to another. This movement could mean physical displacement, as happened to many thousands of people before, during, and after the Holocaust. Journeys can also be metaphoric, emotional, psychological...

The events of World War II and the Holocaust entailed different kinds of journeys for different people and their aftermath sparked a reckoning that the world still grapples with today: the journey of “Never again.” This exhibition follows an unthinkable odyssey through genocide and the experiences of flight, deportation, liberation, and exile to consider the ways in which global society has continued the journey through the Holocaust in its aftermath.

The survivors and witnesses of genocide who recount their stories in the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive of 52,000 testimonies describe many different types of journeys. This exhibit highlights aspects of the life stories of 14 Holocaust survivors who discuss experiences which took them thousands of miles and redefined what safety and home meant for the rest of their lives. Their movement shed light on the geographical impact of the Holocaust, and its legacy. The voices of other witnesses are also evoked here – an American soldier who liberated Buchenwald and an American war crimes trial investigator. Their voices underscore the enduring legacy of the Holocaust not only in Europe, but around the world.

The vast majority of Holocaust victims were Jewish, but the implications of a crime of this scale affect all of humanity and the desire to preserve the memory to prevent future occurrences of genocide has resonated in countries throughout Europe and around the world. The path to preserving the memory has been complex. It involves family traditions, testimony collection processes, the establishment of major memorials, and continued engagement through commemoration dates and ceremonies such as International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.

The exhibition concludes with a reflection on the processes involved in preserving memory, with special focus on the role that the living voices of the Visual History Archive (VHA) play in doing this. Testimony has a unique role as the world continues the figurative journey through the Holocaust, preserving the stories of the past, for the future. Twenty years and over 50,000 testimonies after its inception, the USC Shoah Foundation continues its committment to ensure that the stories of the genocide and crimes against humanity are preserved in perpetuity and used to educate future generations.

In partnership with UNESCO