The Karp Family

Partnerships are crucial in saving the accounts of Holocaust survivors and sharing them widely. Via USC Shoah Foundation’s Preserving the Legacy Initiative, Gabriella Karp, a Holocaust survivor, along with her sons Gary and David Karp, forged a three-way collaboration in which USC Shoah Foundation digitized and preserved more than 1,000 testimonies recorded through the Holocaust Memorial Center (HMC) near Detroit and the University of Michigan-Dearborn Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive.

The children of survivors, Gary and David grew up in a household in which the Holocaust was mentioned sparingly by Gabriella and their late father Alexander. That reticence to discuss such a painful history continued even after Alexander helped found the HMC. But after providing his testimony to USC Shoah Foundation, “our dad opened up,” said Gary, who continues his father’s legacy by serving as president of HMC’s board.

 As Gary and David started families of their own, they became determined that such histories be protected for future generations. A key goal of the partnership is to protect the physical integrity of the memories collected by these two organizations and make them accessible to the world by indexing and integrating them into the Visual History Archive (VHA). When testimony is indexed, scholars using the VHA are able to search for names, dates and geographic locations within each clip. In this way, indexing allows the life histories within the VHA to be mined, ensuring that future generations can learn directly from survivors, be inspired to stand up to hate and contribute to a society that does not allow such acts to occur again.

“There’s nothing more powerful than hearing a firsthand account,” Gary said. “We have to make sure that none of these important stories get lost.” “We want to make sure that these personal testimonials do not fade away, and that they’re preserved in such a way that we know their lessons will inform and educate generations to come,” David added.