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How the Shoah Foundation Works


Act One: Getting it on Tape

 

In approximately six years, from 1994 to 2000, the Shoah Foundation gathered nearly 52,000 videotaped testimonies from 56 countries and in 32 languages. A project of this scope could be a logistical nightmare. But, with the help of thousands of highly skilled and trained volunteers and employees, the mission was successfully accomplished. In order to understand the work that had to be done, let's first take a look at what exactly a visual history testimony is.

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Each visual history testimony is a videotaped interview, lasting, on average, two and one-half hours in length, with either a Holocaust survivor or witness. When people think of the Holocaust and its victims, they mostly think of Jewish people. But there were many other people that were targeted for persecution by the Nazis. The visual history archive held at the Shoah Foundation includes testimony from many different survivors, including:

  • Homosexual survivors - These are persons who were persecuted by the Nazi regime based on their homosexuality or suspected homosexuality.
  • Jehovah's Witness survivors - These are persons who were persecuted by the Nazi regime based on their religious affiliation with the Jehovah's Witness faith.
  • Jewish survivors - These are persons who were persecuted by the Nazi regime based on their religious affiliation with Judaism.
  • Political prisoner survivors - These are persons who were persecuted by the Nazi regime based on their political convictions and/or expression of those convictions.
  • Sinti and Roma survivors - These are persons who were persecuted by the Nazi regime based on their affiliation with the Sinti and Roma cultural groups ("Gypsies").
  • Eugenics policy survivors - These are persons who were persecuted by the Nazi regime based on eugenics laws and policies -- in an attempt to maintain a "pure" German race, the Nazis sterilized and killed people with mental and physical disabilities.

In addition to survivor testimony, interviews were also conducted with:

  • rescuers
  • aid providers
  • liberators
  • liberation witnesses
  • participants in war crimes trials