Witnesses of the Shoah: Testimony Reaches Students in Germany

Mon, 06/22/2009 - 12:00am
Educational outreach program launched in Germany.

Secondary school students throughout Germany will be able to view Holocaust eyewitness testimony through Witnesses of the Shoah, a new educational outreach program launched by Institute partner, Freie Universität Berlin’s Center for Digital Systems (CeDiS).

Witnesses of the Shoah enables students to visit Freie Universität Berlin to work with the testimonies contained in the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s Visual History Archive (VHA), in a specially-equipped classroom, where they receive guidance from experienced researchers and instructors.  As part of the program, CeDiS has also begun developing a series of German language educational DVDs consisting of selected testimony clips from the archive.

Freie Universität Berlin has created a German language version of the Institute’s VHA that allows users to locate specific testimonies using tens of thousands of keywords.

“The translation of the search interface is part of Freie Universität Berlin’s response to a need expressed by secondary school teachers in Germany who want to make use of the archive yet have found it challenging to navigate the English-language search tool,” explained Nicolas Apostolopoulos, CeDiS Director.  “We expect that the new interface, including new interactive features together with our additional offers for education in schools, will contribute tremendously to the University’s larger effort to increase usage of the archive at the secondary school level.”

The Institute assisted Freie Universität Berlin’s translation of the VHA interface by providing the source code, keywords, and other basic elements, while Institute staff members worked closely with CeDiS technology specialists to help them understand the archive’s structure.

“Freie Universität Berlin was the first institution in Europe to provide access to the archive, and the university’s pioneering commitment to testimony-based education continues with the launch of Witnesses of the Shoah,” said Kim Simon, Institute Managing Director.  “By translating and making the interface accessible to German-speaking students, educators, and scholars, they are increasing the potential for sustained and meaningful use of the visual history testimonies throughout the country.”

Read the German press release.