I've done a lot of interviews as a reporter, but none like the conversation I had with Pinchas Gutter.
Gutter is an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor who lives in Toronto -- and I spoke with a digital version of him.
Gutter was the first to participate in a new format being pioneered by the USC Shoah Foundation. He sat in 2014 for more than 20 hours of interviews, recorded by 116 cameras, and answered about 1,500 questions.
I finally had a chance to sample the VR and MR experiences offered by New York's prescient Tribeca Film Festival, which added the immersive Arcade last year, and has guided it skillfully into the one of the world's greatest showcases of VR art, installations and storytelling. Like their film festival, some featured experiences will have a long and prosperous life, some may end up in museums, and some will be once-in-lifetime experiences, site specific experiments without a business model. If you're in New York and at all interested in the transformative potential of Virtual Reality, Tribeca has assembled a extremely well curated sampling of the state consumer VR experiences coming to HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Samsung VR.
Pinchas Gutter sits comfortably in a chair, his hands resting in his lap, and answers questions about his Holocaust experience with ease.
His young interlocutors nod, cradle their chins and think of more queries.
But this is no ordinary Q&A session between a survivor and young people. Gutter is not actually there, though the 85-year-old may as well be.
Pinchas Gutter has returned to Majdanek at least a dozen times, but this trip is his final one to the onetime Nazi concentration camp. His first was one he was 11, when he was taken to Majdanek; now he’s 85 years old, and this is the last time he’ll come here to tell people what the Nazis did to his family. As he rides up to the shuttered camp in the backseat of a chauffeured sedan, he talks about why he’s told his story so many times. Without that living, breathing reminder, the Holocaust becomes easy to forget—or even deny. Without personal accounts, Gutter says, it’s hard for people to accept its atrocities as “the gospel truth.”
In the spring of 2011, David Benson, found himself walking with his grandmother, Holocaust survivor Sidonia Lax, down the “black path” that once led to the crematorium at the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland. It was Lax’s fifth trip with the annual International March of the Living as a survivor, with the Builders of Jewish Education (BJE) teen delegation, his first as part of a large family contingent with the BJE Los Angeles adult group.
Last summer, I watched the disturbingly iconic reel of black-and-white footage that revealed the shameful truth of Bergen-Belsen.
The grainy footage, which many of us have seen, was taken at the concentration camp in Germany, a few days after the liberation on April 15, 1945. It offered one of the first glimpses into the hell that was the Holocaust. Under the armed command of liberators from the British Army, SS men are seen unloading the skeletal corpses of the Jews they’d murdered from the back of a pickup truck, and carrying them to a mass grave.
Historian Julia Werner discovered this set of photos in the Jewish Museum in Rendsburg, Germany, and they constitute one of the only visual records we have of the construction of an open-air ghetto. Taken on June 16, 1940, by German soldier Wilhelm Hansen, the 83 images (a selection of which can be seen below) track the forced movement of the Jewish population of Kutno, Poland, from their homes to the grounds of an abandoned sugar factory, where they were ordered to set up camp.
There were audible gasps in the White House press room Tuesday when spokesman Sean Spicer appeared to forget about the Holocaust in asserting that the Syrian military's use of sarin gas on civilians exceeded the atrocities of Nazi Germany.
With Spicer's credibility already strained, opposition Democrats and others began calling for the White House press secretary to be removed from his position.
More than 70 years have passed since the end of World War II, but USC’s expanded collection of wartime artifacts may soon be able to offer new historical insights.
David and Andrea Stanley donated hundreds of items to USC Libraries and the USC Shoah Foundation’s Center for Advanced Genocide Research. The objects came from Andrea Stanley’s father Harry Wolff, Jr., an American Jewish soldier who served in Europe during the war, and includes numerous paper documents that depict Wolff’s wartime experiences.
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg and the USC Shoah Foundation honored filmmaker George Lucas and his investment executive-wife, Mellody Hobson, for their commitment to education, diversity and humanitarian efforts during the Ambassadors for Humanity Gala at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at the Hollywood & Highland center in Hollywood.
For those eager to rub shoulders with Hollywood royalty, a great place to be was the annual Ambassadors for Humanity gala, benefiting the USC Shoah Foundation — The Institute for Visual History and Education.
No question, Paula Cuéllar was born to be a human rights crusader.
She is but one example of people who walk among us with stories worth telling.
A digital literacy activity created by the USC Shoah Foundation and available on iWitness, a free online education platform, helps students understand the difference between arguments, persuasion and propaganda on social media channels.
A new initiative to digitize the invaluable testimony of Holocaust survivors should help permanently preserve this key resource for future generations, say archivists who are leading the effort.
DETROIT — On Tuesday, October 18, St. John Church of Southfield hosted Dr. Stephen Smith of the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation. Smith is the UNESCO Chair on Genocide Education; he visited the St. John Church and the adjacent Alex and Marie Manoogian Museum.
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- Plainly dressed in a dark gray suit, 87-year-old Xia Shuqin seemed no different from any other suburban Chinese lady. However, her weatherworn face and her determined eyes suggested that her story was different: She had survived the Nanjing Massacre.
By Jon Marks | JE Staff
Oskar Schindler, look what you’ve done.
The man who personally saved some 1,200 Jews from certain extermination by the Nazis by employing them in his factories — using most of his financial resources to protect them — has been gone for more than 40 years.
But his work and legacy lives on. So touched by the story he brought to life in 1993 and the subsequent reaction to his film Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg decided he had to do more.
By HARSHINI CHENGAREDDY
The USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research hosted Benjamin Madley Tuesday to speak about the controversial murder of as many as 16,000 Native Americans by vigilantes, state volunteer militiamen and U.S. Army soldiers during the period between 1846 and 1873.