Tech­nol­ogy brings images of Holo­caust sur­vivors to life

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE - By JAMIE STENGLE The As­so­ci­ated Press

Their rec­ol­lec­tions will live af­ter they are gone

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 con­cen­tra­tion camp to an­other.

The rec­ol­lec­tions of the Dal­las res­i­dent who as a Jew in Poland sur­vived the War­saw Ghetto and Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camps are now be­ing pre­served in a way that will al­low gen­er­a­tions to come to ask his im­age ques­tions. Glauben, who turns 91 to­day, 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 says they’re in a “race against time” as they work to add more, seek­ing both a diver­sity in 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 founded 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 tech-

nol­ogy 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. He says, “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.

For more than a year now, the Illi­nois Holo­caust Mu­seum and Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter has fea­tured the sur­vivors’ images in a spe­cial the­ater. Mu­seum CEO Su­san Abrams says that when vis­i­tors in­ter­act with the images, the im­pact is of­ten ob­vi­ous: “Peo­ple get teary; peo­ple laugh.”

“Our au­di­ence comes to feel that they know these sur­vivors some­what in­ti­mately be­cause they’re hav­ing small group con­ver­sa­tion, and in that mo­ment, pretty much ev­ery­thing else fades away,” Abrams said.

The Illi­nois mu­seum is one of four cur­rently fea­tur­ing the images. Other mu­se­ums are in Hous­ton, In­di­ana and New York. The Holo­caust mu­seum in Dal­las will start show­ing them start­ing in Septem­ber, af­ter it opens in a new lo­ca­tion and with a new name — the Dal­las Holo­caust and Hu­man Rights Mu­seum.

The Dal­las mu­seum cur­rently brings in sur­vivors to talk to stu­dents and has found that’s of­ten the most mean­ing­ful part of their visit, ac­cord­ing to Pres­i­dent and CEO Mary Pat Hig­gins. This tech­nol­ogy en­sures that can con­tinue, she said.

“Our sur­vivors are ag­ing, and so in 20 years we won’t have any sur­vivors who are still able to do that them­selves,” she said.

Smith said the images can ap­pear on a flat screen or be pro­jected in a way that ap­pears to be three-di­men­sional. Like Illi­nois, Dal­las is build­ing a spe­cial the­ater so the im­age will ap­pear three-di­men­sional on a stage.

Smith said the tech­nol­ogy in­volved is sim­pler than many peo­ple think.

“It’s ac­tu­ally video that re­sponds to hu­man voice com­mands,” he said. “And all that’s hap­pen­ing is rather than you watch­ing a lin­ear tes­ti­mony, all the bits of the tes­ti­mony are bro­ken up, and then when you ask it a ques­tion it finds that piece of video and plays it for you.”

JT Buzanga, as­sis­tant cu­ra­tor at the Holo­caust Mu­seum Hous­ton, said the unique­ness of the in­ter­ac­tive tes­ti­monies gives vis­i­tors a rea­son to re­turn.

“It’s something that makes the con­nec­tion that peo­ple want to re­mem­ber and want to come back,” Buzanga said.

Glauben, who has made it his mis­sion to tell peo­ple about the Holo­caust, helped found the Dal­las mu­seum. He says that af­ter he lost his fam­ily, he told him­self he would “do any­thing pos­si­ble to ed­u­cate the peo­ple and let them know what kind of tragedy this was.” he saw kids with strengths that couldn’t be mea­sured on a stan­dard­ized test, who grew up hunt­ing and fish­ing and were great with their hands, but felt sti­fled in the class­room set­ting.

“These same kids that I saw were bril­liant, and they were su­per smart with their hands,” Ru­tiz said. “I would hire them as my crew in the sum­mer . . . and they were bet­ter than ev­ery­one I could find, be­cause there were no bad habits. You showed them once, twice how to do something, and they got it.”

Ru­tiz started teach­ing build­ing and con­struc­tion at the school and be­gan build­ing class­rooms with the kids. He re­called their first class­room bless­ing, and how a cou­ple hun­dred peo­ple showed up and walked around with their mouths agape at what the stu­dents had done.

“Things changed from that mo­ment on, see­ing the pride and suc­cess in the eyes of the kids, and just the awe in the com­mu­nity,” Ru­tiz said.

Around the non­profit’s third year, one of the stu­dents in the pro­gram lost his home to a fire. The next day at school, the kids said, “We could build brad­dah a house,” said Ru­tiz, who was skep­ti­cal at first. But he worked with the stu­dents to de­sign a small cot­tage. They called lo­cal sup­pli­ers and got 95 per­cent of the ma­te­ri­als do­nated.

“The day af­ter Thanks­giv­ing, 50 peo­ple showed up on Fri­day morn­ing in the pour­ing rain, and in the most amaz­ing, chaotic, crazy won­der­ful three­day pe­riod, the kids man­i­fested this cot­tage,” Ru­tiz said.

Af­ter three straight days of rain and hard work, the fam­ily was ready to move in.

“It was just chicken skin the way it was a whole com­mu­nity ef­fort led by the kids and the power of their de­ci­sion, of them want­ing to get in­volved and the con­fi­dence in them­selves that they could do this,” Ru­tiz said.

Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike has since ex­panded to in­clude the Ma­hele Farm pro­gram, a 10acre project of home­grown food that is shared with the com­mu­nity, and the Malama Haloa pro­gram, which is fo­cused on kalo and help­ing fam­i­lies bring loi back to East Maui.

Ru­tiz said Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike “doesn’t ex­ist” if not for his wife, Kirsten What­ley, “the sole grant writer, the artist, the news­let­ter, the book pro­ducer.”

“Ba­si­cally, Rick got to dance around and do what he loves, which is teach, with­out do­ing the things that an ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor is sup­posed to do, be­cause Kirsten was in the back­ground do­ing them,” Ru­tiz said. “She put aside 19 years of her writ­ing ca­reer to make Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike what it is.”

What­ley, a jour­nal­ist, author and South­ern Cal­i­for­nia na­tive, met Ru­tiz in 2001, and the cou­ple mar­ried in 2005.

“He needed a grant writer, and he got a pack­age deal,” What­ley said.

She added that the most re­ward­ing part of the pro­gram has been see­ing the stu­dents they men­tored now lead­ing the pro­gram and bring­ing their own chil­dren to be a part of it, “which is a tes­ta­ment to our age, I guess.”

“It’s pretty in­cred­i­ble to see what we seeded turn into this gi­ant flow­er­ing, now fruit­ing tree with so many arms, so many hearts, just so many pas­sion­ate peo­ple all kind of ex­press­ing their own vi­sions of the dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions it can go,” What­ley said.

Ru­tiz said Ka­haleuahi will serve as deputy di­rec­tor un­til July. He added that while the pro­gram helps a lot of at-risk kids who strug­gle in the class­room, Ka­haleuahi was the op­po­site. She was a straight-A stu­dent and “a very high achiever from Day 1” who loved the hands-on artis­tic work that Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike did. She came back to Hana hop­ing to make a dif­fer­ence in the com­mu­nity.

Pro­gram grad­u­ates make up the ma­jor­ity of the non­profit’s 16 teach­ers, in­clud­ing James Freuden­berg-Pu, a 2006 Hana High School grad­u­ate and the build­ing pro­gram man­ager. Freuden­berg-Pu was 14 when he joined Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike. Read­ing and writ­ing were not his forte, but he was gifted at work­ing with his hands.

“Sit­ting in the class­room, I felt like I wasn’t as ca­pa­ble, I wasn’t as smart as ev­ery­one else,” he said. “But when I went to the build­ing and con­struc­tion class, I was like the leader of the class.”

As Freuden­berg-Pu learned from Ru­tiz, his con­fi­dence grew. In his sopho­more year, he be­gan build­ing a new home for his grand­par­ents. Ru­tiz taught him how to draw up the blue­prints and brought a crew around to help. Freuden­bergPu worked ev­ery day af­ter school and on week­ends, and by his se­nior year, the home was com­plete.

Freuden­berg-Pu is now a father of two and has been head of the build­ing pro­gram for 10 years. He said he wants to con­tinue do­ing things for the kupuna in the com­mu­nity and cre­ate more project-based learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties with Hana School. Freuden­berg-Pu said he ap­pre­ci­ates ev­ery­thing Ru­tiz and What­ley have done for the com­mu­nity.

“I think what their big­gest strength is, is hav­ing good re­la­tion­ships with peo­ple,” he said. “That’s what they’ve been try­ing to teach us . . . You main­tain good re­la­tion­ships with peo­ple, and ev­ery­thing else will fall into place.”

Colleen Uechi can be reached at [email protected]

Illi­nois Holo­caust Mu­seum & Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter photo via AP

Holo­caust sur­vivor Fritzie Fritzshall stands in front of a holo­gram of her­self in the Illi­nois Holo­caust Mu­seum & Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter in Skokie, Ill., in 2017. Highdef­i­ni­tion holo­graphic in­ter­view record­ings and voice recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy to enable Holo­caust sur­vivors to tell sto­ries and re­spond to ques­tions from the au­di­ence.

Photo cour­tesy Rick Ru­tiz and Kirsten What­ley

Lipoa Ka­haleuahi (right), a grad­u­ate of Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike, in­structs a stu­dent while pound­ing kalo in Hana in 2017. Ka­haleuahi is poised to take over as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the non­profit once Ru­tiz re­tires in July.

Dal­las Holo­caust Mu­seum photo via AP

Holo­caust sur­vivor Max Glauben is shown in 2018 sit­ting in an in­ter­ac­tive green screen room while film­ing a piece for the Dal­las Holo­caust Mu­seum. Glauben will be the lat­est to have his story recorded in such a way that gen­er­a­tions to come will be able to ask his im­age ques­tions. Glauben, who turns 91 to­day, had 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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.