Jeffrey Shandler, professor at Rutgers University and the 2012-13 USC Shoah Foundation Institute Scholar, published a multimedia article that examines the impact of Schindler’s List on Holocaust survivors in the December 2013 issue of American Literature.
The article, “Survivors on Schindler’s List,” is free to the public on the multimedia publishing platform Scalar. Embedded in the multi-part article are clips of testimony from the Visual History Archive and other films and television shows; readers can watch the clips as they read.
Through testimony of Holocaust survivors in the Visual History Archive, Shandler examines the various effects that Schindler’s List and other Holocaust narratives have on survivors’ personal histories. As a case study, the article also demonstrates how the testimonies are affected by different forms of mediation, from the interviewers’ questions to the Visual History Archive’s indexing system.
Schindler's List tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved the lives of over 1,000 of his Jewish workers and their families during the Holocaust. The film won Best Picture at the 1994 Academy Awards and was directed by USC Shoah Foundation founder Steven Spielberg.
The clips show survivors discussing their varying reactions to Schindler’s List. Some describe “looking for themselves” in the film; others describe inaccuracies. Many say it encouraged them to begin speaking about their own experiences as Holocaust survivors.
“Schindler’s List can figure in a survivor’s interview as a shared narrative, a master narrative, or an alternate narrative; the film’s creation can become a source of contention, satisfaction, or anxiety; watching the film can figure as a landmark event, engagement with an aesthetic model, or an artistic challenge,” Shandler says in his author statement.
The Scalar project also includes a text-only essay, “Holocaust Survivors on Schindler’s List; or, Reading a Digital Archive against the Grain,” which can be downloaded as a PDF on the first page of the Scalar project.
Shandler researches Holocaust remembrance, American Jewish culture and media and Yiddish language and culture. He is the president of the Association for Jewish Studies.
He is also on the steering committee for USC Shoah Foundation’s 2014 international conference, “Memory, Media and Technology: Exploring the Trajectories of Schindler’s List.” The conference will be held at the University of Southern California Nov. 16-18.