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What is the Last Chance Testimony Collection?

USC Shoah Foundation’s Last Chance Testimony Collection aspires to enable Holocaust survivors who have not recorded interviews to give testimony while time and memory permit. The initiative also encompasses an effort to save Holocaust survivor testimonies that have already been recorded by communities and organizations on older media formats. These media and the stories they hold are in danger of being damaged or lost forever, so USC Shoah Foundation also works to digitally preserve and share them.

When the pandemic began and it became unsafe to continue in-person interviews, the urgency of the initiative remained, so USC Shoah Foundation developed an innovative methodology and technology to record interviews remotely.

As the restrictions of the pandemic subside, USC Shoah Foundation is beginning to plan an increasing number of in-person interviews starting in April 2022.

Who is being documented as part of the Last Chance Testimony Collection?

Survivors, liberators and other eyewitnesses to the Holocaust who have not recorded interviews are the primary focus of the current effort.

What is the interview process?

The interview process begins with the Interview Inquiry Request, which enables survivors and families to inform USC Shoah Foundation of their interest in scheduling an interview. Based on the request, a USC Shoah Foundation representative will reach out within two weeks to start planning: we will determine a date for the interview and find an interviewer and videographer. USC Shoah Foundation trains staff, interviewers and videographers to prepare for recording testimonies.

Interviews are usually conducted in the survivor’s home or other location that is convenient and comfortable to give testimony. Before the interview date, the interviewer will schedule time to talk with the interviewee to ask some preliminary questions in order to prepare.

How long is the interview?

Interviews usually last approximately 2-3 hours, depending upon the witnesses’ experiences, remembrances and stories. The interviewer and videographer will need about 30 minutes before the interview to set up, as well as a few minutes at the end to pack out.

What does USC Shoah Foundation do with the testimony?

USC Shoah Foundation’s mission is to develop empathy, understanding and respect through testimony. Our Visual History Archive includes more than 55,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses to genocide across 100+ years of history. This collection is preserved and shared for remembrance, education, research and action to counter antisemitism, racism and other identity-based hate. USC Shoah Foundation pursues academic programs and partnerships across the University of Southern California and more than 175 universities, and provides educational professional development and resources through its award-winning IWitness education program reaching millions of educators and students. USC Shoah Foundation's interactive programming, research and materials are accessed in museums and universities, cited by government leaders and NGOs, and taught in classrooms around the world.

How do you save the testimony?

USC Shoah Foundation uses state-of-the-art digital preservation methodologies to store and share testimonies in the Visual History Archive, including a variety of technologies that keep the testimonies safe in various locations worldwide. At USC, for example, the digital recordings are copied and checked at the bit level every 6 months to ensure files do not get corrupted.

Where can I access the testimony?

Witnesses who give testimony are provided with a link to view their interview, and families can request links to the testimony for free via Testimonies are also shared through USC Shoah Foundation programs and resources such as the Visual History Archive and IWitness. Learn more about institutions with access here.

How do I sign up?

Survivors and family who would like to be contacted about scheduling an interview are invited to complete the Interview Inquiry Request.

Do you record testimonies with Second Generation survivors?

Holocaust survivors who have not recorded interviews are the primary focus of the Last Chance Testimony Collection. USC Shoah Foundation is not recording interviews with Second Generation survivors.