MY INTERPRETATION: Holocaust Survivor Testimonies and Digital Media

digital-media

‘My Interpretation: Holocaust Survivor Testimonies and Digital Media’ created with Easel.ly.

Consider the potentialities and limitations of digital media in at least capturing a ‘glimpse’ of such an experience. What do you think?

Yesterday, I wasn’t feeling too well. Overwhelmed by everything I needed to complete over the next few weeks, organising interviews for a journalism assignment and mentally preparing myself for a new internship experience. Shifting my focus to ALC203’s topic for this week: “The Future of the Past: Digital Heritage, Visitor-Viewsers and Virtual Museums”, I decided to watch three Holocaust Survivor Testimonies available online and create a response to the above question. I accessed the online videos through the Jewish Holocaust Museum’s website. I do intend to watch all of the available videos. The videos I watched were all different lengths. Of course, I noticed the cuts and editing throughout the videos but I felt these videos were put together respectfully and do give a viewer a small ‘glimpse’ into lives lived during a period in time that none of us today, could ever truly imagine. The amount of power and emotion the stories had over me was immense; my eyes fixated on my laptop, I was completely focused. I’ve always found people interesting, and have always been interested in history, particularly the Second World War.

The videos I watched gave me a highly valuable insight into the survivor’s lives, each with a fragile story. Even though I wasn’t sitting in the same room as them, the emotions I felt were very real. Not all of us will be able to meet the survivor’s in person, however these videos provide one with the opportunity to see and hear irreplaceable stories told by the survivor’s themselves. Recording the survivor’s testimonies and experiences digitally captures a small glimpse of their story. A ‘glimpse’ which is so powerful has been preserved and can be shown to future generations that haven’t even stepped foot on earth yet. I understand one of the biggest limitations of using digital media to capture such experiences is that it isn’t as authentic as hearing a survivor retelling their experience in person. But sometimes, we should do the best we can to capture moments and history to extend the past into the future. If we don’t try, how else is our presence going to be remembered? Would there be a completely empty page, or a page that doesn’t recall what life was like? Or will some of the most horrific yet important times in history be left in the past because people are not using up and coming technologies to help bring experiences into the future?

I’m currently taking a feature writing unit and a piece of advice that I know will stick with me is: “People like to hear about other people; facts and figures people might forget but personal stories stick with them.” I believe this is very true. Watching and listening to the survivor’s tell their stories was a very sensitive yet captivating experience. If we didn’t live in a highly technologically advanced age, we wouldn’t have the same opportunities. I wouldn’t have been able to watch the videos online if digital and internet convergence didn’t exist. I think we live in a very privileged era, capturing and preserving such events and real testimonies is something beyond unique. Being able to access them through the internet within seconds has created a new, yet rich experience. I’m certainly not saying such experiences are much better to be watched online, but we should continue preserving stories through multiple documentation so that they can be potentially more accessible, to educate people of today and the future of how life has been lived throughout time. I believe the video-based testimonies provide not just students, but society as a whole with an interactive and stimulating experience. Internet resources such as the videos uploaded to the Jewish Holocaust Museum’s website could be useful content in a classroom to aid a textbook.

5 comments

  1. Great stuff here – you’ve captured a key point re. survivor stories and how they personalise history and can make a very (temporally, geographically, and morally) distant event relatable. If you’re interested in the Holocaust, I highly recommend my chat with Phillip Maisel if you haven’t already watched it – I’ll show it at the intensive too, so wait for that if you’ll be there – as Phillip’s insights are profound…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Adam. I think I am leaning towards digital media being an extremely helpful tool to help preserve such experiences. Even if it is a small glimpse, it is something. The videos have captured their stories and who they are…describing their lives during the Holocaust and also sharing insight into their lives today. I’m thinking about holding off until Monday to watch it. I also haven’t been to the Jewish Holocaust Museum but I think it’s time for me to visit.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great to hear on all counts! The JHC’s open to you calling ahead and seeing when a survivor might be scheduled to speak to students (probably not this month much), so you can ‘sit in’ on the session… tell them I said you could if you like haha 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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