Watching a visual testimony from a Holocaust survivor is a deeply moving, powerful and unforgettable experience.
The USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, based in USC Dornsife, maintains a historic collection of these testimonies in which men and women from a range of countries and backgrounds share their personal stories of loss, liberation and life after the Holocaust. Nearly 52,000 visual testimonies in 32 languages and from 56 countries are housed in the institute’s archive, and for the month of May, some of these stories will reach an even wider audience.
In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 1, the institute has partnered with the Comcast Corporation to present 10 award-winning documentaries about the Holocaust to millions of television viewers across the country. Each of the films produced by the institute features survivor and witness testimonies from its Visual History Archive.
The 2011 “Days of Remembrance” series will be available for free now through May 25 to Comcast customers On Demand, to everyone online at xfinitytv.comcast.net/specials/daysofremembrance, and through the Xfinity TV iPad application.
This collaboration marks the first time these films will be offered as a complete package to a United States television audience.
“Every survivor has a unique and important story to share, and our partnership with Comcast provides an opportunity for millions of people to listen to and learn from these stories,” said Stephen D. Smith, executive director of the institute, which was founded in 1994 by Schindler’s List director Steven Spielberg.
The 10 films offer firsthand accounts from individual survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust: The Last Days (1998), The Lost Children of Berlin (1997), Eyes of the Holocaust (2001), Some Who Lived (2001), Children from the Abyss (2001), I Remember (2001), Hell on Earth (2001), Voices from the List (2004), I Only Wanted to Live (2006), and Spell Your Name (2006).
The Last Days, which won an Academy Award in 1998 for Best Feature Documentary, presents the accounts of five Hungarian Holocaust survivors who tell their stories of the last days of World War II. The most recent film, Spell Your Name, directed by Sergey Bukovsky, features testimonies from the Ukrainian community and examines modern-day Ukraine and the ethnic stereotypes that prevail today.
“We are proud to introduce these important documentary films to our customers and hope that through our partnership, we can advance the Shoah Foundation Institute’s mission to educate and inspire people across the nation,” said Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation.
In addition to the documentary films, XfinityTV.com also features testimony clips, a video about the institute, and a link to onevoiceatatime.org. There, visitors can watch 12 full-length video testimonies from survivors of the Holocaust and newly released testimonies from survivors of the genocide in Rwanda.
“We hope the documentary films and the testimonies will inspire viewers to think about the power of their own voices and what they — and all of us — can do to carry forward the message of survivors,” Smith said.
Read more about the USC Shoah Foundation Institute at dornsife.usc.edu/vhi.