2021 Year in Review

Thu, 12/16/2021 - 12:30pm

Gustava and Joseph Poremba with their five children, Sala, Nathan, Fela, Esta and Tala, in Wieliczka, Poland in 1931. Only the two youngest, Nathan and Fela, survived the Holocaust. Read the story behind this photo.

Another year dominated by the ongoing pandemic draws to a close. From producing animated films to conducting interviews, forging new partnerships and sharing incredible testimonies, 2021 was a year to remember. Here are some of the highlights of the work the Institute has accomplished.

USC Shoah Foundation, The Willesden Project Launch Music Dreams Animated Short

December 10, 2021

USC Shoah Foundation and The Willesden Project today launch the premiere of Music Dreams, an animated short film story telling the story of Lisa Jura, a young Holocaust survivor who in 1938 escaped from Vienna to London on the Kindertransport.

Mickey Shapiro Provides Major Gift to Endow Inaugural Academic Chair  

November 29, 2021

Longtime USC Shoah Foundation Executive Committee and Board of Councilors member Mickey Shapiro has provided a major endowed gift to create an inaugural academic chair at the Institute that will be dedicated to deepening the study of the impact of Holocaust education.

Armenian-Language Resources Inspire Students, Connect Families

November 2, 2021

When the Coronavirus pandemic banished students and teachers from classrooms in March 2020, Liza Manoyan scrambled to shift to distance learning. Figuring out the technology was one thing. But she faced another challenge. “There are not a lot of digital resources for teaching in Armenian,” she said.

A Search For Family Leads to a ‘Bittersweet Revelation’

October 13, 2021

When Deborah Long was a teenager, she often came home to find her mother sitting with the latest issues of Life or Look magazine, quietly tearing out pages. “You see this picture?” her mother would say. “She looks a little like my older sister Ryfka.” Or, “This movie star right here? He reminds me of my father. So handsome.”

USC Shoah Foundation approaches 30 years and begins a leadership transition

October 6, 2021

Executive Director Stephen D. Smith will step down at the end of 2021 but continue to serve the institute as executive director emeritus.

He Fought the Nazis, Survived the Communists, and Just Celebrated his 100th Birthday—in Brooklyn

October 5, 2021

Until he retired from the Soviet Red Army in 1967, Leonid Rozenberg carried the banner at the head of the semi-annual military parade in the city of Lugansk, in what is now Ukraine, with hundreds of fellow soldiers marching behind him and thousands of spectators cheering him on. Although highly decorated – his chest was covered in medals – the honor of leading the parade was tainted for Leonid. During his 26 years in the Soviet military Leonid was never promoted beyond the rank of lieutenant colonel. The reason? He was a Jew.

It Took 50 Years For Father and Son to Tell This Story Together

August 30, 2021

For decades Nathan Poremba deflected his son Joel’s questions about his experiences as a child during the Holocaust. But when an interview with USC Shoah Foundation inspired Nathan to talk, Joel could not bear to face his father’s past. It would take a fateful trip to Israel 20 years later to bring the two together to explore the story.

Rwandan Rescuers and Those They Rescued Recall Trauma and Triumph

July 2, 2021

Rukesha’s testimony, along with six other interviews from The 600 documentary, was recently integrated into USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive, which now holds 135 indexed and searchable interviews connected to the Genocide Against the Tutsi Rwanda. The majority of these testimonies were collected by Aegis Trust and the Kigali Genocide Memorial, in partnership with USC Shoah Foundation. The seven new testimonies include the first accounts of Rwandan liberators to be added to the collection.

She Smuggled Love, Hope, and Dynamite Over the Ghetto Walls

June 11, 2021

In October 1942, when deportations from the Warsaw ghetto paused, more than 20 youth groups and underground units coalesced into a united front. Vladka Meed channeled her despair at losing her family into fighting the Nazis.

Armed With A Camera and a Gun, She Fought The Nazis

June 4, 2021

On the day that Faye Schulman’s parents and siblings were killed, along with almost all the Jews of her Eastern Polish town of Lenin, Schulman (then Faigel Lazebnik) was pulled aside by a Nazi officer. The Nazi official had been to Schulman’s studio a few weeks previously. After invading the town in 1942, the Nazis had ordered the talented young photographer to take photographs—both to document their activities in the town and to provide their officers with vanity portraits. Schulman remembered the photo session with the Nazi who now pulled her aside.

Jewish James Bond Aided MI6 and Fellow Prisoners

May 10, 2021

Under an assumed identity, Joseph André Scheinmann ran a French Resistance network of 300 agents that funneled information to the British. After his arrest and internment, he continued his scheming to save the lives of 100s of fellow prisoners.

Steeler Zach ‘The Hulk’ Banner, on Creating Empathy

April 27, 2021

“My mom always told me, no matter how good you get at sports, no matter how well you do at anything, people will always remember you for your character. And I truthfully feel that way with anyone I interact with. She calls it a big heart.”

USC Shoah Foundation to Premiere Ruth: A Little Girl's Big Journey starring Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer

January 26, 2021

USC Shoah Foundation this week will launch a Teaching with Testimony Webinar for K-5 educators featuring the exclusive global premiere of Ruth: A Little Girl’s Big Journey, an animated short film that brings to life the remarkable childhood journey of media personality, author and Holocaust survivor Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer, known the world over as Dr. Ruth.