April 04, 2008
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum today launched World Is Witness, a new initiative that opens a window into the lives of people affected by genocide and its long-term consequences.
A project of the Museum’s Genocide Prevention Mapping Initiative that documents and maps threats of genocide and related crimes against humanity, World Is Witness brings together testimonies, photographs, videos, and other first-hand data in Google Earth, situating eyewitness accounts in their geographic location. World Is Witness can be found in Google Earth’s Global Awareness folder under the heading, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, or at the Museum’s Web site, www.ushmm.org.
The initial entries in World Is Witness follow Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield, Museum staff members Jerry Fowler and Michael Graham, and Museum Council member and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson on a recent visit to Central Africa. The Museum delegation traveled to Rwanda to learn about the legacy of that country’s 1994 genocide and then to Congo, where a conflict triggered in part by the Rwandan genocide continues today. The trip was part of the Museum’s ongoing efforts to witness the complex conflict in Congo that since 1998 has claimed the lives of more than five million people.
“One of the consequences of the failure to prevent the Rwandan genocide was that a new conflict was set in motion in neighboring Congo. As a result, people there are suffering unimaginable violence, often directed against women in particular, and millions have died,” says Bloomfield. “World Is Witness will allow Google Earth users to witness stories of individuals and encourage them to get involved in our efforts to prevent genocide and related crimes against humanity.”
“Following our partnership on Crisis in Darfur, Google is pleased to join again with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on World Is Witness” says Rebecca Moore, Manager, Google Earth Outreach. “This project allows our users to learn about situations on the ground, and better understand the individual impact of genocide and related crimes against humanity.”
Information from the Museum, other organizations and guest contributors will continue to be added to the site. Portions of the site will be translated into other languages to reach a global audience. Currently, almost one-half of visitors to the Museum’s Web site live outside the United States.
The Museum has long been tracking the situation in the Congo. The Museum’s online journal, Ripples of Genocide, features a 2003 visit to Eastern Congo by Angelina Jolie and the International Crisis Group’s John Prendergast. It can be found at http://www.ushmm.org/exhibition/congo-journal/. On March 30-31, 2008, Congo Global Action, in cooperation with the Museum, hosted a conference on the crisis, “Connect for Congo: Working for Hope and Peace in the DRC,” at the Museum.
A similar mapping project on Holocaust history is also available on the Museum’s website: http://www.ushmm.org/learn/mapping-initiatives. The Holocaust took place across the entire continent of Europe, and for all of Europe’s Jews, as well as other victims of Nazism, geography played a major role in determining their fate. The Museum is using Google Earth to map key Holocaust sites with historic content from its collections, powerfully illustrating the enormous scope and impact of the Holocaust.
The first program in the Museum’s Genocide Prevention Mapping Initiative, Crisis in Darfur, a Google Earth layer tracking the path of destruction in the Darfur region of Sudan, was launched in April 2007. Traffic to the Museum’s Web site increased by two million visits in the two months following the launch.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was created to inspire leaders and citizens to confront hatred, prevent genocide, promote human dignity and strengthen democracy. Federal support guarantees the Museum’s permanence, and donors nationwide make possible its educational activities and global outreach. For more information, visit www.ushmm.org.