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My grandmother, Hana, taught me to be alone, to be able to sit in my space and observe all around. She taught me to describe what I see — the stacks of history books, cards sent from friends, photos of my family, vinyls stacked high, and the flowers from my last trip to the grocery store. She taught me to take an interest in the simple parts of life and to find symbolism and comfort in the mundane.
/ Wednesday, April 22, 2020
“I am ashamed to say this,” Ursula said to me. We were sitting in her lovely Los Angeles home in the middle of the day on a Saturday in February. All the lights in her house were off, but the blue skies outside graced her face, her 90-year-old wrinkles defined. “I was so stupid to believe that when Hitler died, that the world would come to the end.”
/ Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Current Conflict Collections: How and Why USC Shoah Foundation is Collecting Testimony from Ongoing Conflicts
The young woman stares at me as I wait to press play on the video. Her eyes are dark and her lips are pursed. You can see a bit of her thick black hair which is matted beneath an off-white, or perhaps a light-pink scarf. It is hard to tell the exact color in the shadowed room.
current conflict, vha, visual history archive / Monday, June 1, 2020
“You can’t just close your eyes and pretend that the history goes away,” says Mickey Shapiro the eldest son of two Holocaust survivors who just finished a four-year-long journey to create a film about his mother’s story. “I am stuck with this for life, but I think it makes me more motivated. When you hear a story like that from your parents, you want to make things better.”
/ Friday, June 5, 2020
We asked you to submit your stories to us. Each week in April, we offered a new theme: spaces/places, family, resilience and messages for the future, and we asked for your stories. Your contributions were remarkable. We received dozens upon dozens of responses from around the world — from Morocco to Argentina to Switzerland, Israel, Canada, Poland and across the United States. Some of you shared that you even had family members in our archive.
/ Friday, July 17, 2020
I was laying in bed one day scrolling through Instagram, lost in the endless stories that have me so addicted to my phone. I skipped some and lingered on others, navigating the echo chamber of social media like a pro before coming across my local bookstore’s account. They were sharing books to read while their doors were temporarily closed due to Coronavirus. A vibrant yellow and blue cover with the words, A Nail The Evening Hangs On, caught my eye; it was a book of poetry — a rare purchase for me, but the nod to the poet’s Cambodian history pulled me right in.
/ Sunday, July 19, 2020
USC Shoah Foundation’s Immersive Innovations team headed to Mexico in March of this year to spend a week with Holocaust survivors Dolly and Julio Botton. The couple, who have been together for more than 50 years, were part of the Institute’s first collection of videotaped testimonies back in the 1990s.
/ Tuesday, July 28, 2020
“I remember lots and lots of light,” Karla Ballard told me about her childhood home just outside of Philadelphia, a community called Friends of the Fairfax. “So much light. And a beautiful, long dining room table. My father was an entrepreneur and my mom was a nurse. I just remember lots of light coming into that house and having grandparents around watching us, and having Susan, Eileen, and Max — my mother’s best friends.”
/ Tuesday, September 8, 2020
This past May, a friend sent me an article he knew I would appreciate. It was an opinion piece in the New York Times titled “Burying My Bubby During the Pandemic” written by a comedy writer named Eitan Levine who, like me, grew up with a grandmother who survived the Holocaust. I began to read and found myself immediately wrapped inside his writing which was so honest it was cathartic. I immediately reached out to Eitan and asked if his grandmother’s testimony was in USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive.
/ Thursday, October 22, 2020
Twenty-five years ago, in October, 1995, a then 72 year-old Fanny Starr sat down in her living room in Denver, Colorado and recorded a two-hour long testimony with USC Shoah Foundation. Fanny was born as Fala Granek in 1922 in Lodz, Poland -- a diverse city where Jewish and Polish students intermingled. Her family was modern yet traditional. They spoke Polish, kept kosher, went to public school, and celebrated the Jewish holidays; she and her four siblings were assimilated in the way that many young Jewish people in the United States are today.
/ Friday, October 23, 2020
Now, many (many) months into this fight against Covid-19, it feels like we are rewriting our own story. It is like our obsession with separation has been viewed in a new lens, a wider one. The stories we are now drawn to are those of connections, even if experienced by individuals who are thousands of miles apart. And, once again, when digging into the Visual History Archive for stories of the past that exemplify this idea, there is no shortage of testimonies to lean on. One story in particular involves a reunion between Betty Grebenschikoff and Ana María Wahrenberg.
/ Thursday, January 7, 2021
Twenty-one-years after my grandmother recorded her testimony with USC Shoah Foundation, I teamed up with the Institute to create a podcast about my own decade-long journey to retrace her war story. It would be the first-ever narrative podcast to be based around survivor testimony. After years of research, criss-crossing international borders, living in stranger’s homes, and harmonizing history with the politics of today, I began to sit with her voice. “I always felt very guilty,” she told the interviewer about her survival.
/ Monday, April 12, 2021
Hela Goldstein’s testimony given to the British Film and Photographic Unit on April 24, 1945 is believed to be the first-ever audio-visual testimony given by a Holocaust survivor. As a 22-year old victim, she spoke from Bergen-Belsen, the Nazi concentration camp where she was imprisoned upon liberation. Standing at the foot of a mass grave with her killers before her, Hela recounted what she experienced. By telling her story in the face of death, she became a foremother of testimony.
/ Friday, May 14, 2021