About the Archive
Between 1994 and 2002, the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation (now called the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education) conducted and recorded nearly 52,000 interviews with Holocaust survivors and other witnesses from 56 countries. In addition to survivors of Nazi persecution, the Foundation interviewed liberators and liberation witnesses, rescuers and aid providers, political prisoners, and participants in war crimes trials. Interviews were conducted in the survivor’s preferred language, and over 32 languages are represented in the collection. Those providing testimony were asked to describe their lives before, during, and after the Holocaust, and in many cases shared pictures and artifacts related to their experiences. Additional information about the interview process can be found on the USC Shoah Foundation’s Web site at http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/vhi/.
Searching the Collection
Prior to visiting the Museum, researchers can search the online Testimony Catalogue to identify testimonies of interest in the Archive. Please contact the Library at (202) 479-9717 to request testimonies in advance of your visit to ensure that the interview you wish to view will be available when you arrive.
Onsite researchers may search for the interview of a specific individual, browse the catalog by experience group, or use certain keywords to find testimonies on a specific subject. For assistance in searching the collection, ask at the Library Reference Desk. A User Guide (PDF) with detailed information about the search process is available on the Institute’s Web site.
Accessing the Testimonies
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum provides access to the interviews from computers in the Library (on the fifth floor) and in the Registry of Holocaust Survivors (on the second floor). Museum staff may also access the collection from their office computers by following this link.
Before viewing, interviews must first be requested and loaded onto local servers at the Museum, which may take up to 48 hours. If there is a particular testimony you would like to view, such as that of a family member, please contact the Library at (202) 479-9717 prior to your visit, to ensure that the video will be available when you arrive.
To see a list of other institutions that provide access to the Visual History Archive, go to http://college.usc.edu/vhi/cms/testimoniesaroundtheworld.php.
Transcripts, Translations, and Duplication
Transcripts are not provided for testimonies in the VHA collection. However, the interviews have been indexed and keywords assigned to each one-minute segment, allowing viewers to find testimonies on certain topics.
All interviews were conducted in the preferred language of the interviewee. The testimonies have not been translated, and no subtitles are provided. However, all index keywords are in English.
Interviewees and/or their family members may purchase copies of their own testimonies by contacting the USC Shoah Foundation Institute directly. For more information about this service see http://college.usc.edu/vhi/testimonyservices.php. Testimonies and educational materials for use in classroom settings can also be purchased from the Institute.