Academics from 25 different universities and museums met at the Davidson Conference Center to discuss how they use videoed Holocaust testimonies, gathered by The Shoah Foundation, to teach students.
Over six years The Shoah Foundation, founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg after he helped create Schindler’s List, has gathered 52,000 videoed testimonies from 56 countries in 32 different languages. Professors at the conference Thursday talked about how students respond to the testimonies, and the role language and translation play in the narrative of the testimonies.
Dr. Martin Like, Talia Cohen and Stephen Smith of the Shoah Foundation, Robert Rosette of Yad Vashem and Dr.Peto discuss archive
Dr. Martin Licke from the Free University of Berlin said many survivors told their narratives in English until they began expressing their feelings about the Holocaust. They would switch to their native tongue when talking about their experiences because that is how they experienced that part of their life.
TaliaCohen, Associate Director of International Programs of the Shoah Institute, said the faculty research the archives over the summer to use in their teaching of many USC classes. USC students also use the archives for their film projects.
Robert Rosette from the Yad Vashem in Israel said there are 52,000 testimonies of roughly 3 hours each. He hopes this conference will begin to spark new ideas for how to use the comprehensive material in a school setting.
The Shoah Foundation is currently in the process of preserving 235,000 beta tapes to file clips using a state-of-the-art conversion process. The Institute began the conversion in 2008 and are scheduled to finish in 2013. The machines take 60 tapes at a time, scanning, copying and cleaning the tapes in the process.
“This is very important because all these testimonies would have been lost if this hadn’t happened,” said Andrea Petö, from the Central European University of Budapest, Hungary.