Focal Point: Discrimination

Encounters with Discrimination

A series of clips from survivors speaking about their experiences with personal as well as institutional forms of discrimination. These clips include testimonies from the European Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda collections.

Kizito Kalima on the dangers of prejudice

Language: English

Kizito Kalima, a survivor of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, recalls the negative effects of labeling in the classroom before the genocide.

 

  • Kizito Kalima on the dangers of prejudice

    Language: English

    Kizito Kalima, a survivor of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, recalls the negative effects of labeling in the classroom before the genocide.

     

  • Charlotte Manaster on Returning Home

    Language: English

    Charlotte Manaster reflects on returning to her home in Vienna after being liberated. Charlotte recalls asking her old friend, Greta, why she participated in anti-Jewish actions including throwing rocks into Charlotte’s family home during Kristallnacht.

  • Ruth Brand on Jewish Persecution Bystander Response

    Language: English

    Ruth Brand remembers how the non-Jewish people in her neighborhood taunted her family while they were being forced out of their home in Romania. She also describes how members of her family tried to reclaim their property after the war.

  • David Faber recalls childhood anti-Semitism

    Language: English

    David Faber recalls the anti-Semitism he experienced as a child in pre-WWII Poland. He describes numerous instances where he was abused physically and emotionally by non-Jewish children on his way to and from school.

  • Michael Banhidi on racial discrimination

    Language: English

    Michael Banhidi recalls how anti-Semitism and racial discrimination spread throughout his neighborhood in Hungary.  

  • Floyd Dade on Civil Rights in America

    Language: English

    Floyd Dade explains the racial segregation of battalions during World War II. He also describes his relations with white soldiers on the battlefield.

  • Eva Bergmann on anti-Jewish Employment Exclusion

    Language: English

    Eva Bergmann remembers when she was forced to leave her job at a public kindergarten school in Berlin because of Nazi enforced anti-Jewish restrictions. Eva also reflects that her gentile friends remained loyal and friendly to her even after she was labeled as “non-Aryan.”

  • Agnes Adachi on the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games

    Language: English

    Agnes Adachi remembers attending the Olympic Games in Berlin 1936; and describes what it was like to watch Jesse Owens compete and win the gold medal. She recalls that the anti-Jewish restrictions and propaganda had been eased at the time because of the international presence in Germany.

  • Hugo Beckerman on the atmosphere in Berlin before the start of the 1936 Olympics

    Language: English

    In preparation for the start of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, the Nazis in power decided to minimize the presence of anti-Semitism in the city. Hugo Beckerman recalls how he was able to identify the Jewish businesses that were still allowed to run at that time.

  • Ernest Uiberall on the Reichstag Fire

    Language: English

    Ernest Uiberall remembers hearing about the burning of the German parliament (Reichstag) building on February 27 1933. Uiberall also reflects on how the Austrian newspapers reported on the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party.

  • George Weiss

    Language: English

    George Weiss was seven years old when the Germans invaded his home country of Belgium. He reflects on the shame he felt when he was forced to wear the yellow star of David to school.

  • Margaret Lambert on the 1936 Berlin Olympics

    Language: English

    Margaret Lambert recalls her experience as an athlete on the Olympic team in Nazi Germany in 1936. Lambert's testimony is featured in the IWitness Activity, 1936 Olympics: Race, Politics & Civil Rights.

  • Erno Abelesz on the German occupation of Hungary

    Language: English

    Erno Abelesz remembers when German forces occupied his home country of Hungary on March 19, 1944.

  • Walter Absil

    Language: English

    Walter Absil reflects on living in Vienna, Austria during the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party in the 1930’s. He also recalls on returning back to Vienna to retrieve his belongings from his family home after the war. 

  • Judy Lysy Remembers Jewish Restrictions

    Language: English

    Judy Lysy speaks how Jewish restrictions and anti-Semitism increased in her hometown in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Georgette Banks Remembers Arrests in France

    Language: English

    Georgette Banks describes when her father was arrested in Paris, France in 1941. She remembers begging the policeman not to take her father, who was later deported to the Drancy concentration camp.

  • Sam Kadorian on the Armenian Genocide

    Language: English

    Sam Kadorian speaks on being an eyewitness to the Armenian Genocide. Kadorian’s testimony is part of the new Armenian Genocide collection.

  • Betty Gerard on the Yellow Star

    Language: English

    Betty Gerard shows and describes the Yellow Star of David she was forced to wear as a child in the Westerbork concentration camp in the Netherlands.

  • Alphonse Kabalisa on anti-Tutsi propaganda

    Language: Kinyarwanda

    Alphonse Kabalisa recalls listening to anti-Tutsi propaganda on the radio with his father, after the death of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana. Alphonse’s testimony is featured in the IWitness activity, Information Quest: The Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda

  • Stefan Kosinski on his arrest by the Gestapo

    Language: English

    Stefan speaks of his arrest by the Gestapo in his place of birth, Torun, Poland. Stefan relates how he was interrogated, brutally beaten and subsequently imprisoned as a result of an intimate letter he wrote to an Austrian soldier in German uniform. View his entire testimony at http://vhaonline.usc.edu/login.aspx

     

  • Rose Burizihiza Remembers School anti-Tutsi Prejudice

    Language: Kinyarwanda

    Rose Burizhiza speaks on the discrimination she faced in school before the genocide began in Rwanda. Rose’s testimony is featured in the IWitness activity, Information Quest: The Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

  • Judith Agular on living in Yellow Star House in Budapest

    Language: English

    Judith Agular describes anti-Jewish restrictions including being forced to live in a “Yellow-star House,” in Budapest, Hungary.

  • Emmanuel Muhinda on anti-Tutsi propaganda

    Language: Kinyarwanda

    Emmanuel Muhinda describes the persecution of Tutsi and anti-Tutsi propaganda he witnessed before the genocide started in April 1994. His testimony is featured in the IWitness activity, Information Quest: The Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

  • Beatrice Becker recalls the Iasi Pogrom of June 29, 1941, in Romania

    Language: English

    Beatrice Becker speaks of the dangerous conditions facing the Jews of Iasi, Romania in late June 1941 when Romania entered the war as an ally of Germany. Days later, on Jun 29th, the Jews of Iasi were rounded up by Romanian and German military units. Beatrice heard screams and shooting coming from the direction of the main police headquarters. Beatrice and her parents were rounded up and  were marched toward the police station’s courtyard, where German soldiers concentrated the Jews of Iasi. The family saw many corpses along the way.  Beatrice and her mother were allowed to return home. Thousands of Jewish men were deported from Iasi by train and most died during deportation, including her father. Beatrice relates she soon learned that thousands of Jews had been executed or deported from the city during the Iasi Pogrom on June 29, 1941.

  • Violence: Masha Loen recalls witnessing the 1941 pogrom in Lithuania

    Language: English

    From July 25 to July 26, 1941, 3,800 Jews were killed during a pogrom by Lithuanians in Kaunas, Lithuania. As a child Masha Loen witnessed the pogrom in her hometown after her family tried to escape to Russia and were sent back to Kaunas by Russian soldiers.

  • Hank Schwab remembers his classmates

    Language: English

    Hank Schwab describes the structure of his primary and high school in Germany. He also reflects on the close relationships he formed with his Jewish and gentile classmates. Schwab and fellow survivors returned to Germany for the first time since WWII, for their 50th high school reunion.

  • Edmund Berger on the deportation of Jews from Croatia

    Language: English

    In August 1942 was the start of deportation of Jews from Croatia to concentration camps. Edmund Berger remembers when the Germans started to control the Croatian government and implemented restrictions against Jews and eventually the killings of young Jewish men.

  • Bellina Aronovich on anti-Semitism in Romania before Nazi occupation

    Language: English

    On August 8, 1940, before the Nazis entered Romania, the government started to restrict Romanian Jews from employment and education, which later turned into the Romanization of Jewish businesses. Bellina Aronovich remembers the anti-Semitism and violence against Jews had even started the year before, in 1939.

  • Rita Feder remembers the 1936 Olympics

    Language: English

    Rita Feder was a young girl during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and remembers how desperately she wanted to attend the games but was unable to because she was Jewish. Feder recalls how dangerous it was for Jews during that time even though there was an international audience in Berlin.

  • Joseph Steiner on anti-Semitism in Hungary

    Language: English

    Joseph Steiner remembers when Nazi Germany invaded his home country, Hungary. He speaks on the anti-Semitism he experienced from neighbors, which he said was influenced by Nazi propaganda and hatred.

  • Marga Randall on the Nuremberg Laws

    Language: English

    Marga Randall describes how life changed for her family and the Jewish population in Germany following the implementation of the Nuremberg Laws on September 15, 1935.

  • Trudy Coppel on the Yellow Star

    Language: English

    Trudy Coppel describes how Jews were forced to wear the Yellow Star on their clothing in Nazi Germany. Trudy’s was considered Aryan, however her father was born Jewish and according to Nazi laws, Trudy and her brothers were Jewish and were forced to wear the Yellow Star beginning in September 1941.

  • Henry Laurant on experiencing anti-Semitism

    Language: English

    Henry Laurant remembers the first time he experienced anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany. He was targeted by other children who were influenced by Nazi rhetoric. His testimony is featured in the multimedia professional development program, Echoes and Reflections.

  • Gerda Haas on Jewish Restrictions

    Language: English

    In 1941 more anti- Jewish measures were implemented and intensified in Nazi Germany including ration cards, forbidding Jews to emigrate and deportations of Jews to ghettos and concentration camps. Gerda Haas was a nurse at a hospital in Berlin  when her mother was deported to the Riga ghetto in Latvia in late 1941.

  • Elizabeth Bader on Education in Nazi controlled Germany

    Language: English

    Elizabeth Bader remembers her grade school in Nazi Germany and recalls her first teacher being relieved of his duties because he was too friendly with Jewish families. Elizabeth also reflects on how the Nazi’s ideologies were taught in the classroom.

  • Elena Nightingale on anti-Jewish measures

    Language: English

    Elena Nightingale speaks how life changed for her family in the late 1930’s when anti-Jewish laws were enforced in Italy. She describes how her father was forced out of his job and she felt like a second class citizen.

  • Tom Tugend on Kristallnacht

    Language: English

    In November 1938 a pogrom broke out throughout Germany and across the Sudetenland. Tom Tugend remembers hearing the mob and the breaking of glass outside his family’s home in Berlin during Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass.”

  • Norbert Bikales on Expulsion from German Schools

    Language: English

    Norbert Bikales remembers the day he was excluded from attending a non-Jewish German school in Berlin, Germany, shortly after the November Pogrom (Kristallnacht) in November 1938. He reflects on how this event changed his life.

  • Abbie Akst on Jewish Restrictions in Poland

    Language: English

    Abbie Akst remembers when the Nazis occupied his hometown in Poland in 1939. Abbie reflects on the restrictions imposed onto Polish Jews by the Nazis including wearing a yellow patch.

  • Esther Clifford remembers Kristallnacht

    Language: English

    Esther Clifford discusses events of the Kristallnacht pogrom, November 9-10, 1938 and recalls the state of fear that drove her to flee her hometown of Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

     

  • Ellen Brandt on Jewish identity

    Language: English

    Ellen Brandt recalls the implementation of the Nuremberg Laws in Berlin and her participation in a Jewish youth movement BDJJ or Bund Deutsch-Jüdischer Jugend. She also reflects how the organization helped her connect with her Jewish identity.

  • Bertram Schaffner on helping gay soldiers during World War 2

    Language: English

    Dr. Bertram Schaffner, who served as a military psychiatrist during World War 2, recounts how he dealt with the military's anti-gay policy while evaluating draftees.

Discrimination

Why this Focal Point?

Most everybody has, at some point, felt the sting of being singled out for scrutiny or excluded from privilege. But discrimination is what happens when people are excluded or singled out at a systematic or cultural level on the basis of race, class, gender, sexual orientation or another group identity, regardless of their individual merit.  Discrimination is a timeless phenomenon, ancient as mankind, and some form of it lies at the heart of most human conflict.
 
In modern-day United States, most discrimination manifests itself less overtly than before. Gone are the days when laws in certain states mandated separate drinking fountains, schools, cafes, neighborhoods and bus seating for African Americans, for example. Or excluded women from voting. Or, most recently, prohibited same-sex couples from getting married. But the legacy of those laws is apparent in the glaring disparities between groups across the whole of society, including quality of education, levels of incarceration, treatment by police, conditions of housing and portrayal in the media.
 
At its most horrific, discrimination — when left unchecked — can lead to mass violence or even genocide. Each of the 55,000-plus survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides who have given testimony to USC Shoah Foundation felt discrimination in its rawest form. Each survivor has a unique story that underscores the sanctity of life and the grave dangers of making judgments about people based on the groups to which they belong.

Responses to Discrimination

Several people responded to active discrimination by helping the victims in different ways. This is a collection of clips highlighting testimony from survivors and aid givers themselves. One question that sometimes emerges in these clips is "what made you stand up to discrimination and racial intolerance?"

Henny Paritzky on Aid Giving

Language: English

Henny Paritzky speaks on how her family escaped deportation with the help of a nun and a policeman in a hospital in Lyon, France.

  • Henny Paritzky on Aid Giving

    Language: English

    Henny Paritzky speaks on how her family escaped deportation with the help of a nun and a policeman in a hospital in Lyon, France.

  • Roman Kent - Testimony

    Language: English

    Roman Kent acknowledges the contribution of the “Righteous Gentiles” who put their own lives on the line in order to save Jews during the Holocaust.  Kent’s testimony is featured in Testimony – The Legacy of Schindler’s List and the USC Shoah Foundation.

  • Richard Rozen on Hiding in Poland

    Language: English

    Richard Rozen remembers hiding with his family in an attic of a small cabin on a farm in Poland for over two years. At night when everyone was sleeping Richard’s father gave him writing and reading lessons. Richard’s testimony is featured in the book, Testimony – The Legacy of Schindler’s List and the USC Shoah Foundation.

  • Johtje Vos on her decision to help Jewish people

    Language: English

    Johtje Vos reflects on her decision to help hide Jews during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Throughout the war Johtje and her husband, Aart, housed 32 Jews, although never more than 14 at the same time. In 1982 both Johtje and Aart were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem for risking their own lives to save the lives of others.

  • Dora Goldberg on hiding in France

    Language: English

    Dora Goldberg remembers when her mother never returned due to roundups by German soldiers in France. Dora describes being sent to her aunt's house and hiding in the bathroom from Nazis who were searching for her and her brother.

  • Lusia Haberfeld on ghetto hiding and evasion

    Language: English

    Lusia Haberfeld recalls how her family evaded deportation by hiding in an attic within the Warsaw ghetto.  This clip from Lusia’s testimony is featured in the IWitness Activity: Chance & Choice: A survivor's story.

  • Syrt Wolter reflects on being an aid provider

    Language: English

    Syrt Wolter speaks admirably of the Spainers, a Jewish family he and his wife hid in their home in the Netherlands during World War II.  

  • Arie Van Mansum Rescuer and Aid Provider

    Language: English

    Arie Van Mansum was only in his early 20’s when he helped rescue Jews in the Netherlands. He describes why he chose to risk in life in order to hide and rescue Jews. Arie was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

  • Liliane Bentitou on hiding in France

    Language: English

    Liliane Bentitou reflects on hiding in Lyon, France and how she was able to conceal her identity with false papers.

     

     

  • Leon Gersten on Hiding

    Language: English

    Leon Gersten and some of his family escaped the Frystak ghetto in Poland and hid with a Polish family for almost two years. Leon remembers when police officials entered the home of the Polish family looking for Jews and he recalls how much the family sacrificed.

  • Rose Toren on her hiding experience

    Language: English

    Rose Toren’s father told her to leave the family to go hide with a friend from school in Nazi occupied Poland. Rose recalls the night she fled to her friend’s house and evaded beatings by the Gestapo.  

Educational resources for combatting discrimination

Rescue is a crucial topic in understanding genocide survival and appreciating the difficult choices that people make in extreme circumstances. Although many stories of survival during the Holocaust are due to unexplained and unexplainable circumstances, there are also numerous accounts of individual and group acts of aid and rescue that contributed to the survival of thousands of Jewish people.

This classroom exercise is designed to help educators teach students ages 14-18 about the effects and consequences of hatred and intolerance. The exercise integrates first-person testimonies from the Institute's archive with the Pyramid of Hate, a curricular tool developed by the Anti-Defamation League for its A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute.

Segmentos para la clase es un recurso de video creado en repuesta al interés expresado por educadores de estudiantes de 14 años en adelante para integrar testimonio en sus lecciones de clase. Segmentos para la clase: La experiencia migratoria es un video descargable de testimonio del Visual History Archive, en donde siete sobrevivientes describen su experiencia de emigrar de Europa y de reconstruir sus vidas en América Latina.

Segments for the Classroom is a video resource created in response to the interest expressed by educators of students ages 14 and up to integrate testimony with their classroom lessons. Segments for the Classroom consists of seven downloadable clip reels—six in English, and one in Spanish—that contain excerpts of testimony from the Institute’s Visual History Archive covering a variety of topics including the dangers of stereotypes and discrimination.

The lesson addresses the theme of resistance during the Holocaust. Through survivor testimony, students will understand that resistance can take many forms and can happen even under the most oppressive situations.

The lesson addresses the theme of resistance during the Holocaust. Through survivor testimony, students will understand that resistance can take many forms and can happen even under the most oppressive situations.

This unit is designed for those students who have completed a teacher guided reading of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. The unit theme is about ordinary people who show courage, bravery, and kindness and take risks under extraordinary circumstances of danger. The theme is about not being a bystander in the face of wrongdoing. Video testimony from USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive feature a Holocaust survivor whose experiences mirror those reflected in the novel.

This unit is designed for those students who have completed a teacher guided reading of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. The unit theme is about ordinary people who show courage, bravery, and kindness and take risks under extraordinary circumstances of danger. The theme is about not being a bystander in the face of wrongdoing. Video testimony from USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive feature a Holocaust survivor whose experiences mirror those reflected in the novel.

This exhibit features a series of interviews with witnesses of the pogrom that occurred on November 9-10, 1938, known as Kristallnacht, "Night of Broken Glass." Organized in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

IWitness resources on discrimination

IWitness is a free online educational resource for educators and students that provides access to  2,224 testimonies from the Institute's Visual History Archive's listing of 55,000 full-length interviews with survivors and other witnesses to genocide.

You can view a collection of short testimony clips on the topic of discrimination at iwitness.usc.edu.

Here are also some IWitness lessons that address the issue of discrimination:

Blog Posts on Discrimination

Luis Hernandez

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

  Lauren Fenech and Steffanie Grotz
Lauren Fenech And Steffanie Grotz

As educators, when we go into teaching, we go in with what some might call ideological visions: This concept that we can and will make a difference; this idea that the children we teach will take the lessons we’ve taught and use them to become productive people long after they leave the four walls of our classroom. As we sit here now, reflecting on our most recent efforts to teach the Holocaust in a profound manner that gives justice and honor to the victims of this atrocity, we feel fortunate that such ideologies are being lived in our classroom.

Dan Morgan-Russell

A few weeks ago, USC Student Body President Rini Sampath posted on her Facebook page about incidents of hatred and intolerance on campus. A Saturday night after a USC football game, Sampath had been walking down USC’s Fraternity Row when a man leaned out his frat house window and hurled a racial epithet and a beverage cup at her.

Stephen Smith

There is talk of a “new anti-Semitism” sweeping the globe, but all I see is the same irrational hatred aimed at the same perplexed victims, who are once again left wondering what has energized such bile.