On the day the Visual History Archive access site in Prague - the Malach Center for Visual History - was inaugurated I decided that my school, Archbishop High School in Prague, could not ignore it. However, I was not able to think of a way how to organically incorporate it in teaching English, which is my job. My chance came only recently.
Czech Republic, education, op-eds / Monday, March 24, 2014
Pinchas Gutter sits in a red chair surrounded by bright green fabric under the glare of several thousand LED lights, 53 cameras capturing his every move. This is the world's first ever full-life history captured in true 3-D. As I interview him, I perch on a stool 8 feet away at 90 degrees to Pinchas. We can see each other through a mirror angled at 45 degrees. I have 400 questions in front of me as we settle in for five days of intensive interview. This is not the fireside chat in the comfort of the interviewee's home.
op-eds, cagr / Friday, March 28, 2014
In the spring of 2000, I agreed to become the president and chief executive officer of Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, the predecessor of USC Shoah Foundation - The Institute for Visual History and Education. My family and I were then living in Chicago, but the hectic pace of preparing to move to Los Angeles did not prevent my wife, Margee, and me from stealing away for a weekend to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We found an isolated beach and flew off, knowing that we would return to the inevitable chaos of moving to LA.
rwanda, kwibuka, op-eds, cagr / Monday, March 31, 2014
As a writer fascinated by literary and political theory on history and memory, I watched students from Camino Nuevo High School interview Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter while I sat in awe witnessing the past and future intersect before my eyes.
New Dimensions in Testimony, op-eds / Thursday, April 3, 2014
In April 1994, the genocide of the Rwandan Tutsis officially began, even though the persecution and killing campaign had gone on for decades. In 100 days, close to 1 million women, children and men were slaughtered and tortured to death with machetes, metal sticks and knives. The conflict gained momentum when Belgium became the colonial power in Rwanda after Germany’s defeat in World War I, and further highlighted and reinforced the distinctions between Hutus and Tutsis.
rwanda, kwibuka, op-eds / Monday, April 21, 2014
Historical memory is dangerous. In times of crisis, its demons emerge, ugly, toxic, and potentially lethal. We saw it in Donetsk last week. Jews emerging from synagogue during Passover found themselves the target of a despicable anti-Semitic attack – new crisis, old anti-Semitism, which this time accused the Jews of acts of collaboration as far back as 1941.
Donetsk Ukraine, anti-semitism, op-eds / Tuesday, April 22, 2014
A few weeks ago I went shopping at one of my favorite bookstores in Los Angeles. However, I wasn’t picking out a few books that would sit on my metro-read shelf. I was with a few USC Shoah Foundation colleagues—picking out an entire collection of Armenian Genocide History resources for the Doheny Library. A few of my colleagues and I were tasked with picking out resources to expand the library’s collection. We were shopping for the future genocide researchers, scholars, and educators.
Armenian Genocide, op-eds / Tuesday, April 29, 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
The Holocaust has always been a topic close to my heart. Not only because I am Jewish and Israeli, but also because I’ve been learning about the Holocaust since my childhood. Last year, I felt the strongest connection to the Holocaust when I attended March of the Living, a two-week trip to Poland and Israel.
op-eds / Tuesday, May 20, 2014
I look at the picture and realize this is why I’m working at the USC Shoah Foundation. This is what it’s all about. The photo shows two women standing in a field of green grass dotted with dandelions. The younger of the two has her arm wrapped around the other. The older woman smiles at the camera, while the other’s attention is focused only on her friend. The bond between them comes through; the love they share is unmistakable.
March of the Living, auschwitz, op-eds / Wednesday, May 21, 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
The Yom HaShoah Vigil is an annual event at the University at Albany, coordinated by the University at Albany Hillel. As this year’s Jewish Life Chair, the event is under my direction. The 24-hour vigil allows the campus community the chance to examine different ways to connect to the Holocaust; I strongly believe that in order to never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust, it is important for each person to find their own way to connect with it personally.
UAlbany, yom hashoah, op-eds / Monday, June 9, 2014
USC Shoah Foundation hands off books on the Armenian Genocide to USC Doheny Library’s Holocaust and Genocide Studies collection. Lynn Sipe, senior bibliographer and curator for the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Collection for Doheny Library, visited the Institute June 13 to pick up books and other resources on the Armenian Genocide
Armenian Genocide, doheny library, op-eds / Tuesday, June 17, 2014
June 20 is World Refugee Day, dedicated to raising awareness about refugees throughout the world, a day on which I inevitably always look back on the formative years of my life. In 1991, my family and I were forced out of our home in Croatia because of our ethnic origin, and we began a life of exile, torn from everything known and dear to us and forced to swim in the uncharted waters of life as a refugee. Our lives had been changed drastically; a life of abundance had become a life of misery.
World Refugee Day, un, Bosnia, croatia, Ethnic Violence, op-eds / Friday, June 20, 2014
I was born and brought up in a university town in the Czech Republic called Olomouc. It had a small Jewish community. My father is a writer and academic. Five years ago he interviewed Milos Dobry who was a prominent member of the Olomouc Jewish community and a long-term Holocaust survivor. His story was fascinating - about how he and his brother had survived Terezín and Auschwitz and how Milos had gone on to have a successful career as an inventor and sports personality. I went to meet Milos Dobry personally to further interview him about his history.
op-eds / Monday, June 23, 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
The 53,000 testimonies in the Visual History Archive from the USC Shoah Foundation tell a complete personal history of life before, during and after the interviewee’s firsthand experience with genocide. These testimonies are an invaluable resource for humanity, as in addition to their experience through some of the darkest chapters of human history; the testimonies also recount happy memories of childhood and successes in life including careers, children and grandchildren.
testimony, PIQ, Newsweek, Life History, op-eds / Tuesday, July 15, 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 statistics are rolling in: Thousands of rockets fired, thousands of homes destroyed, 65,000 reservists deployed, hundreds of Palestinian and tens of Israeli dead, miles of print, hours of commentary, two ceasefires. But for all our statistics, are we not missing one fundamental point? No one is suffering more at the hands of Hamas than the ordinary people of Gaza.
Israel, Gaza, Conflict, op-eds / Monday, July 21, 2014
In just a few short months I will be holding a new born baby in my arms. The depth and complexity of emotion that I feel as this time approaches is multiplied by the experiences I have had working at USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education. New acquaintances who inquire about what I do for a living often respond by saying, “Gosh, that must be depressing.” And my response has always been the same, “Actually, it is amazing and inspiring.” And it truly is.
op-eds / Friday, July 25, 2014
USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education was founded to capture the voices, emotions and faces of those who suffered, yet miraculously survived the most heinous crime ever committed against humanity by humanity. The idea was to record individual and collective memories that would be preserved in perpetuity as a seminal educational tool to inform current and future generations that incitement, hate and violence against a person or a group can ultimately lead to death, genocide and ultimately extermination.
anti-semitism, Europe, op-eds / Wednesday, July 30, 2014
A group of men is placed in several trucks. They are driven through the streets and out of town into an open area surrounded by trees. They are beaten around the head with rifle butts, made to run in a group towards an open mass grave. A mere handful of armed guards make them lie in the grave like sardines. Then they are shot one by one in broad daylight. The horrific spectacle, highly reminiscent of the Nazi Einsatzgruppen Aktions in the Soviet Union in 1941, was, in fact, the mass murder of some 30 men that took place in Iraq just this week.
ISIS, Iraq, genocide, Middle East, op-eds / Saturday, August 2, 2014
For years now I have noticed that my students are especially interested in the information from non- traditional educational channels; visual and auditory information are often more welcome than academic texts from their books. The reason, we have experienced a shift in the methods that young people process information these days.
Teaching with Testimony, hungary, education, op-eds / Monday, August 4, 2014
My “mormor” (literally mother's mother) Greta exuded love and her heart burst for my sister and me. Along with my “morfar” (mother's father) Ingvar, they ensured us an innocent and idyllic childhood in a small town in Sweden. Greta's pork chops with cream sauce were my favorites and I later learned my father would devour when given the opportunity.
Holland, holocaust, Dutch, op-eds / Tuesday, August 12, 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
This September a new school year will begin in Ukraine and the first lesson students be taught is “Ukraine is united" and the lesson will be devoted to state integrity of Ukraine. A tough issue for the country engrossed into an ongoing military conflict and terrorist attacks.
Ukraine, education, op-eds / Wednesday, August 27, 2014
There is talk of a “new anti-Semitism” sweeping the globe, but all I see is the same irrational hatred aimed at the same perplexed victims, who are once again left wondering what has energized such bile.
anti-semitism, Focal Points, discrimination, op-eds, antiSemitism / Wednesday, September 10, 2014
A sea of faces dotted with “Nie Wieder!” banners wraps around the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of Germany's capital. As I join them on this Sunday afternoon, I cannot help but think of the crowds that once had gathered under the same grey skies hanging onto every hateful word of their chosen leader, Adolf Hitler.
anti-semitism, Berlin, Angela Merkel, op-eds, antiSemitism / Thursday, September 18, 2014
I recently emailed a teacher to ask if he was willing to be featured in a profile story on the USC Shoah Foundation website about his experiences using IWitness in his classroom. I had never been introduced to him and he had not been expecting to hear from me.
op-eds / Tuesday, September 23, 2014