Technology will keep voices of Holocaust survivors alive
DALLAS — Max Glauben was 17 and had already lost his mother, father and brother at the hands of the Nazis when U.S. troops rescued him while he was on a death march from one German camp to another.
The recollections of the Dallas resident who survived the Warsaw Ghetto and concentration camps are being preserved in a way that will allow generations to come to ask his image questions.
Glauben, who will turn 91 on Monday, is the latest Holocaust survivor recorded in such a way by the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation. The Los Angeles-based foundation has recorded 18 interactive testimonies with Holocaust survivors over the last several years, and executive director Stephen Smith said workers in a “race against time” as they try to add more, seeking a diversity of experiences and testimonies in a variety of languages.
“I thought that my knowledge could cure the hatred and the bigotry and the killings in this world if somebody can listen to my story, my testimony, and be educated even after I’m gone,” Glauben said.
Smith says that while the foundation created in 1994 by film director Steven Spielberg has about 55,000 audiovisual testimonies about genocides in dozens of languages — the majority from the Holocaust — the interactive technology stands out for allowing museumgoers to have a dialogue with survivors.
“It’s your questions that are being answered,” Smith said, adding that the replies, especially on weighty issues like forgiveness, can be especially poignant. “You actually see sometimes them struggling to know what to answer.”
So far, the foundation has Holocaust survivors speaking in English, Hebrew and Spanish, and the group hopes to get people speaking in even more languages.
“It’s so powerful when it’s in your mother tongue and you’re looking the person in the eye and you are hearing nuanced language coming back that’s your own language,” Smith said.
A Dimensions in Testimony exhibit at the Holocaust Museum Houston lets guests have a virtual conversation with Holocaust survivor William Morgan.