In 2003, I and others were preparing for the opening of the Kigali Genocide Memorial to commemorate the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda when a volunteer data collector emptied the contents of a brown manila envelope onto my desk. There on top of the pile of papers and photos was a photo of two little girls.
GAM, 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, op-eds / Monday, May 7, 2018
On April 17, 1975, the city of Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge, triggering a four-year genocide. In commemoration, USC Shoah Foundation is spotlighting its Cambodia-based learning activities for high school students.
GAM / Monday, April 6, 2020
Mohammed Dajani teaches about the Holocaust to Palestinians although he insists it is impossible to do so. “In my class is a girl who was recently released from an Israeli jail. When I raised the subject of the Holocaust in class all she could say was, ‘I am still dealing with my own traumatic experiences, I am nowhere near ready to learn about this!’” Dajani is unflustered by such push back.
GAM, Genocide Education, op-eds / Thursday, November 21, 2013
“Time heals all wounds,” they say. It’s difficult to find any other element in our daily lives that possesses the sobering effect that time does. It tames emotions and calms nerves. It allows for much needed reflection and analysis. And, perhaps most importantly, it brings with it resolution and closure. By any account, a century would be more than enough time to heal even the deepest wound, but, surprisingly, time’s impact isn’t always as thorough as we’d expect it to be.
Armenian Genocide, GAM, op-eds / Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The word journey comes to the English language from the Old French jornee, meaning a day, or, by extension, a day’s labor or travel. This word, which we normally associate with something pleasant, takes on a different meaning when placed in conversation with the word Holocaust. This was the challenge placed in front of me by colleagues at UNESCO, when they requested that the USC Shoah Foundation prepare an exhibition for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27 – the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp.
unesco, GAM, op-eds / Friday, January 24, 2014
The recent New York Times article, The Shroud over Rwanda's Nightmare (January 9, 2014), had me perplexed at first. Michael Dobbs' enquiry centers on the character of Jean-Pierre, the informant who tipped off United Nations head of mission General Romeo Dallaire about preparations for widespread killing of civilians in Rwanda 1994 as evidenced by the training of the Interhamwe militia, the presence of arms caches and the purchase of large numbers of machetes.
rwanda, GAM, op-eds / Monday, January 27, 2014
When I was a child, my grandfather often told me about the Second World War. While he sat next to me, coloring or teaching me letters of the alphabet, he would sneak in a story about his days in the Soviet army. He would tell me about his post as a commander of a marine unit and how his forces liberated an Austrian town under Nazi occupation.
Armenian Genocide, GAM, op-eds / Friday, May 2, 2014
Looking into a mirror and making sure her hair looked just so, Yevnigue Salibian didn’t notice me as I was taking her picture. It took a few seconds, but when she finally realized I had documented her act of vanity, she smiled coyly.
Armenian Genocide, testimony, GAM, op-eds / Monday, August 31, 2015
Guatemala, Pambach, GAM, op-eds / Wednesday, June 4, 2014
As an intern at the USC Shoah Foundation and a student on the Problems Without Passports trip to Rwanda this summer, I’m more than familiar with the phrases “Never Forget” and “Never Again.” Sometimes the two seem like tired mottos. They’re valid and true, but oftentimes I think I miss the full impact of those few words.
rwanda, problems without passports, GAM, op-eds / Monday, June 30, 2014
On July 16 -17, 1942, over 13,000 Jews from Paris and its suburbs were rounded up by French police in the early morning hours and forcefully taken from their homes to both the Vélodrome d’Hiver, a winter cycling stadium in Paris, and to the Drancy internment camp.
Vél d’Hiv, Paris, france, Hollande, GAM, op-eds / Friday, July 18, 2014
The fast pace of globalization with all of its benefits is also accelerating the viral spread of hatred. Where once regional enmities brewed for centuries with sporadic outbursts of warfare and imperial powers that waxed and waned, the truly global speed and scale of ideological hatred and international conflict was not possible until recently for many practical reasons.
Hate, Tolerance, ISIS, Europe, Globalization, anti-semitism, GAM, op-eds / Monday, August 25, 2014
I recently returned to China to record audio-visual testimonies from survivors of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. In February 2014, the Institute incorporated 12 Nanjing testimonies into its Visual History Archive, adding a new perspective to the 53,000 testimonies that we collected from the Holocaust and the Rwandan Tutsi Genocide.
Nanjing Massacre, china, nanjing, GAM, op-eds / Thursday, October 9, 2014
Auschwitz should never have existed, so why are we so keen to cling onto it? Would it not be reasonable to scrub it from the landscape, remove the very thought of what it represents from our minds, recognize it as the cemetery it is, then grass it over and leave the dead to rest in peace?
Auschwitz70, auschwitz, memory, preservation, GAM, op-eds / Monday, January 19, 2015
What does it mean to live 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz in a world in deep crisis? What does it mean with all we know about the damage that hatred causes – after all the pain we have gone through – that we are hurtling out of control into an inferno of rage that takes us right back to where we started? Why are survivors of the Holocaust who walked out of the camps with at least the hope that their own suffering was not in vain, dying disappointed?
anti-semitism, action, beginswithme, GAM, résistance, op-eds, antiSemitism / Wednesday, March 18, 2015
The Holocaust collection in USC Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive contains nearly 53,000 testimonies; however, only a mere six of those testimonies are from survivors who were persecuted by the Nazis for being gay: one in English, three in German, one in French, and one in Dutch. There are other gay survivors we have in the Archive, but they were persecuted by the Nazis for the greater sin of being Jewish; Gad Beck being one of them. The meager number says a lot about the history of the gay men who lived through the Nazi regime and who came out the other end willing and unafraid to speak about their lives.
GAM, homosexuality, holocaust, homosexual, gay, survivor, Albrecht Becker, paragraph 175, gay pride, op-eds / Tuesday, March 24, 2015
For two full days in June 2010, while the camera was rolling in Thousand Oaks in the Hagopian’s living room, I had the privilege of being behind the camera while the late Jacob Michael Hagopian was in front of it -- the whole time.
Armenian Genocide, Armenian Genocide Testimony Collection, Michael Hagopian, GAM, op-eds / Thursday, April 23, 2015
Thousands of people came to Times Square on Sunday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and to demand the U.S. government recognize the slaughter of 1.5 million people as genocide. In a speech at the event, USC Shoah Foundation Executive Director Stephen Smith said that the world must stand together speak for those who are not here to speak for themselves.
Armenian Genocide, GAM, op-eds / Tuesday, April 28, 2015
I participated in an event in April called Survivor Voices. We were six panelists from Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, two Holocaust survivors and an Armenian-American priest.
genocide awareness month, Rwanda Genocide, GAM, op-eds, cagr / Monday, May 4, 2015
Stefan (Teofil) Kosinski’s testimony is the only English-language testimony we have in the Visual History Archive from a homosexual survivor, which is also remarkable for the fact that Stefan is not a native English speaker.
GAM, gay, homosexuality, holocaust, homosexual, paragraph 175, gay rights, Gay Pride Month, gay pride, op-eds / Monday, May 18, 2015
During the 1960s, the Guatemalan government unleashed a war against various small guerilla groups across the country. This so-called “internal conflict” turned into a 36-year genocide against Mayan populations.
Guatemala, GAM, cagr, op-eds, cagr / Tuesday, July 28, 2015
The question “How do you teach this stuff?” is what brought me to USC Shoah Foundation in 2010 to begin my training and work as a Master Teacher. I was beginning to understand that survivor testimony is the formative center of Holocaust education, that once a student begins to see Holocaust education content through the lens of testimony, the education and the student begin to change in ways that are profound.
education, ushmm, iwitness, Holocaust education, GAM, op-eds / Friday, March 25, 2016
There is a current controversy about the allegation that the great mufti of Jerusalem instigated the final solution of the Nazis. While there is no doubt that Haj Amin al-Husseini, was a virulent anti-Semite, history shows that the Final Solution was conceived and implemented by Nazis and nobody else.
Haj Amin al-Husseini, holocaust, GAM, op-eds, cagr / Thursday, October 22, 2015
Poland faces a horrible wave of extremism after the election of a new right-wing government. As an educator and Polish citizen, I am not only scared by this type of radical hatred, but it also reminds me of the past because the same organization that marches on the streets of Polish cities today, organized boycotts of Jewish institutions and forbade Jewish students from studying at Polish universities before WWII.
poland, education, GAM, World Refugee Day, op-eds / Wednesday, December 9, 2015
I found as a teacher that the most challenging task when teaching about the Holocaust and genocide, is how to do it not using material that shocks the students to the point that they do not want to look at the content, study the history or listen to present day issues due to the emotional shut down that can occur.
holocaust, education, iwitness, GAM, op-eds / Tuesday, December 15, 2015
A person doesn’t visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland and come away unchanged, and I was no exception. The empty barracks, the barbed-wire fencing, the solemn exhibits, the telltale chimneys – all these vestiges left a strong impression. But what struck me most was the sheer vastness of the sprawling memorial to history’s most notorious death camp. Walking through Birkenau with my tour group, I gaped at the emptiness stretching for a mile in every direction – nothing but the crumbling remains of buildings half-buried in snow.
Auschwitz70, reflection, GAM, op-eds / Tuesday, January 26, 2016
This year I focused on eyewitness testimony to the Holocaust and it changed the experience for my students and for me.
GAM, op-eds / Thursday, March 31, 2016
April is Genocide Awareness Month, a time to reflect on atrocities of the past while ensuring that we avoid acts of mass murder in the future. The urgency of this mandate was highlighted just weeks ago when the U.S. House of Representatives and the State Department officially recognized that ISIS is committing genocide in the Middle East.
GAM, Genocide Awareness, op-eds / Friday, April 1, 2016
Never forget. Never again. These are common phrases used in Holocaust and genocide education. These are important statements especially when they evoke the real reason to study, learn, and teach about genocide. We must bring this content to students to empower them and encourage them to see beyond themselves. If done right, students become aware of the steps that lead to such atrocities. Teaching about genocide is the only way to have a lasting impact on our students, to affect their worldview, to help them understand that they can make a difference.
GAM, iwitness, education, Educator Resource, op-eds / Friday, March 25, 2016
In 2015 , I traveled to Guatemala with a small team from USC Shoah Foundation to train staff from a local organization called the Fundación de Antropología Forence de Guatemala (FAFG) to begin collecting voices from survivors to the Guatemalan Genocide.
GAM, Guatemala, Guatemalan Genocide, cagr, op-eds, cagr / Friday, April 8, 2016