Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Shoah?

In Hebrew, “shoah” literally means catastrophe. Used as a proper noun, “Shoah” refers to attempts to eradicate the Jewish population of Europe in the 1930s and 1940s by Nazis during and before World War II. The proper noun “Holocaust” is used in the same way.

Can I give testimony?

Currently, USC Shoah Foundation is focused on deploying the nearly 55,000 in the Visual History Archive for education, access and global distribution. Given our current resources and priorities, we are only able to collect a very limited number of Holocaust survivor and witness testimonies in any year.

If you are a survivor or a witness, we would like to have your information on file in case we are in a position to reach out to you for an interview. If you are interested, please fill out this flier and return it to us. Unfortunately, we will not be able to respond to every request.

How do I get a copy of testimony?

Copies of testimony are available to those who gave their testimony and their family members. Copies for such things as education and documentaries are available via a license. We also work with institutions such as museums, libraries and memorial centers to create special curated collections for their locations. Visit for more information.

How do I access the Visual History Archive?

The Visual History Archive can be accessed in several ways: The entire Visual History Archive is available at 138 institutions around the world. You can see the entire list here. Smaller collections are available at 232 sites.

Approximately 3,108 full length testimonies available on the Visual History Archive Online at Registration is required, but access is free.

There is also a substantial collection of full-length testimonies and clips on the USC Shoah Foundation’s YouTube Channel at

What is your connection to Steven Spielberg?

Steven Spielberg founded USC Shoah Foundation in 1994 following his experience meeting survivors during production of the Oscar-winning film Schindler’s List. It is through his leadership and foresight that we exist today.

In 2006, the Institute moved to the University of Southern California, which will preserve the Visual History Archive in perpetuity. While Mr. Spielberg keeps close contact with the Institute, he is not involved in its day-to-day operations.

What if I have an idea I want to discuss with Mr. Spielberg?

USC Shoah Foundation is not a proper conduit to Mr. Spielberg. If your idea is directly related to the Visual History Archive or people who gave testimony, feel free to contact our office at

Can I visit your facility?

At this point, we are no longer offering public visits to our office.

How big is the Visual History Archive?

Of the nearly 55,000 testimonies that were conducted in 65 countries and in 43 languages currently housed at the Institute, the Visual History Archive contains nearly 52,000 audio-visual testimonies that have been catalogued, indexed and integrated into the Visual History Archive.

What happened to the original testimonies?

The original tapes are stored off-site in a secure, temperature-controlled location. The Institute’s technical staff is always preserving and updating access to conform to the latest technology to ensure the testimonies will be available for a long, long time.

How can I make a donation?

Contributions to help keep USC Shoah Foundation a vibrant center for education and research are always welcome. Click here for more information and to learn about different ways to contribute.

What’s the difference between the Holocaust and genocide?

The word “genocide” refers to deliberate and systematic violence against a group with the intent to destroy that group. Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin first used the word in 1944, derived from the rooted words genos (Greek for family, tribe, or race) and -cide (Latin for killing). The term “Holocaust” refers specifically to the orchestrated slaughter of Jews by Nazis between 1933 and 1945 when nearly six-million Jews lost their lives — two-thirds of the Jewish European population.

Can I apply for a grant?

The USC Shoah Foundation does not give grants.

More facts about the USC Shoah Foundation

There are more than 115,000 hours of video testimony in the Visual History Archive, totaling more than 13 years’ worth of material.

More than 1.95 million names are mentioned in the testimonies

The Visual History Archive contains over 719,000 images.

The USC Shoah Foundation employs 60 people at locations around the world.

The Institute was awarded 11 patents on the digital collection management techniques it developed, which allows users to search the entire Visual History Archive to specific minutes of testimony by using some of the 65,600 embedded keywords.