How the Shoah Foundation Works

Act Three: Turning Survivors Into Educators

Leon Leyson, a Holocaust survivor saved by Oskar Schindler's efforts during World War II, shares his personal experience with a student.
Leon Leyson, a Holocaust survivor saved by Oskar Schindler's efforts during World War II, shares his personal experience with a student.
Photo courtesy Shoah Foundation

The final act of the three-act structure of the Shoah Foundation is concerned with turning the survivors into educators. The race against time to collect the testimonies is over, but it can be said that the Shoah Foundation finds itself in another race, perhaps even the most urgent leg of its journey. In an interview with the New York Times, Steven Spielberg suggests that the goal of the current race is the "conscious minds of young people." He goes on to say that the youth of today must learn "the dangers of stereotyping, the dangers of discrimination, the dangers of racial and religious hatred and vengeful rage."

To accomplish this goal, the Shoah Foundation takes a multi-faceted approach centered on outreach, including (among other activities):

  • Establishing 40 satellite collections of its Visual History Archive, ranging in size from 10 to 2,000 testimonies
  • Utilizing the Visual History Archive to produce 10 documentaries (subtitled in 28 languages) that have been broadcast in 50 countries
  • Creating a variety of educational programs and products that are currently used in more than 30,000 schools around the world (available for purchase from the Shoah Foundation Web site)
  • Holding educational screenings of Shoah Foundation documentaries in 40 countries for more than 100,000 students, teachers and members of the general public
  • Distributing the Visual History Archive catalogue to more than 50 institutions in six countries
  • Providing access to the Visual History Archive to multiple universities via Internet2

The Shoah Foundation partnered with 23 agencies and organizations in 11 countries to make all of this happen, and it continues to find new partnerships.

  • The Foundation is currently working with the Holocaust Educational Trust in the United Kingdom to place a variety of educational materials and an anti-racism curriculum (based on theme-focused reels of Shoah Foundation testimony) in 3,000 British schools. These educational materials address four unit themes from the United Kingdom's national curriculum: choice, belief, loss, and reconciliation.
  • The Foundation is working on a partnership with the Austrian government to develop a DVD for use in Austrian schools.

More discussions are underway with Italy, Australia, Brazil, Hungary, Poland and Russia. "It's a long list," said Shoah Foundation CEO Doug Greenberg, "but it's not long enough." Finding international partners is quite a challenge. It takes a considerable amount of time, including multiple international trips (usually made by Greenberg) to meet with the potential partners. As a non-profit organization, finding appropriate funding for projects can also take time.

The foundation continues to find partners in the United States, as well, including recent alliances with the Anti-Defamation League and Facing History and Ourselves, a 28-year-old organization that specializes in professional development programs for teachers.