The University of Haifa has become the first university in Israel with access to the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education’s archive, a searchable repository of nearly 52,000 video interviews with Holocaust survivors and other witnesses.
“New scholarship based on eyewitness testimony is essential to a deeper record of the Holocaust and the world that existed before it, and to a better understanding of its individual and social consequences,” said Stephen D. Smith, the institute’s executive director. “The visual history archive is an unparalleled resource for such scholarship, and the audiovisual nature and broad scope of its content make it relevant to many other fields of study as well. We’re thrilled to see the University of Haifa host the archive in Israel.”
The university plans to integrate the visual history archive into its new international master’s program in Holocaust studies, a multidisciplinary program of courses on such topics as the history of the Holocaust, social psychology, anthropology of trauma, interview methodology and the methodology of testimony analysis, genocide, and international law.
“There will be substantial usage of the testimonies throughout all the classes offered by the program, and students will be encouraged to make use of the testimonies for their research and thesis papers,” said professor Arieh Kochavi, head of the Strochlitz Institute for Holocaust Research at the University of Haifa. “The use of the archive will enrich the program in a very unique way, by attaching specific faces and concrete names to the students’ historical knowledge.”
Recently, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute provided visual history archive training for University of Haifa librarians and faculty members in the humanities and social sciences. In addition, the university has organized an international symposium, “Bridging the Divide in Holocaust and Genocide Studies: Towards a Cross-Cultural Interdisciplinary Dialogue.”
The symposium — which will explore the way Holocaust-based discourse, tropes and commemorative practice inform diverse experiences of global mass-violence in everyday life — is presented in partnership by the University of Haifa’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology; the Strochlitz Institute for Holocaust Research; Gerda Henkel Stiftung; the Israeli Mosaic; the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, and the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
Funding for Visual History Archive access at the University of Haifa is provided by Lee Liberman, vice chair of the University of Haifa Board of Governors. Liberman is also a member of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s Board of Councilors.