Institute News

Sir Nicholas Winton and Ben Helfgott Give Testimony to Visual History Archive

Sir Nicholas WintonA knight of the British Empire and an Olympic athlete recorded two of the newest testimonies for USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive.

Sir Nicholas Winton, nicknamed the “British Schindler,” and weightlifter Ben Helfgott, one of only two known Holocaust survivors to compete in the Olympic Games, each recounted their life stories before, during and after World War II Sept. 17 and 18 in the UK. Their testimonies will be available for viewing through the Visual History Archive, which contains 52,000 audiovisual interviews of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides.

Winton, a British stockbroker, organized the safe transport of 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia to Britain before the outbreak of World War II. Most of the children’s parents were later killed at Auschwitz. Winton is the subject of a new documentary, Nicky’s Family, and at 104 he remains in touch with many of the children he saved.

Ben HelfgottHelfgott survived a Polish ghetto and Buchenwald, Schlieben and Theresienstadt concentration camps. His parents and one of his two sisters were killed in the Holocaust. But Helfgott, who had always been athletic, trained in weightlifting after the war and competed on Great Britain’s 1956 and 1960 Olympic teams.

While USC Shoah Foundation’s focus has shifted from collecting testimony to education and outreach, a grant allowed Winton and Helfgott’s testimonies to be recorded and added to the Visual History Archive. USC Shoah Foundation is also digitizing, indexing and integrating Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco’s collection of 1,400 testimonies into the Visual History Archive and fundraising for special collections such as the Sephardic Mizrahi Collection and collections from the Rwandan, Armenian and Cambodian genocides.