The UK’s National Holocaust Centre and Museum is set to premiere interactive 3D recordings of 10 testimonies of Holocaust survivors over the next ten months.
Last week, just in time for National Hate Crime Awareness week, it announced that it had received the final piece of funding needed to launch its Forever Project, as part of wider efforts to combat hate crime and antisemitism in the UK.
The completion of the Forever Project was made possible by the support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, co-founded by international businessman Mikhail Fridman.
The project uses the recordings of Holocaust survivors to allow future generations to ‘meet’ survivors and ask them questions about their experiences, with the aim of providing future generations with an opportunity to learn about the Holocaust, even after there are no survivors left.
The Center has collected thousands of questions typically asked by schoolchildren and gave them to survivors, so that through the Forever Project, children can ask survivors questions for years into the future, with software matching the question with the closest recorded answer.
Phil Lyons MBE, the Chief Executive of the National Holocaust Center said: “We are delighted to have the support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group at this crucial time. This funding will allow us to share all of the testimonies recorded for this special project. This will create a unique educational experience for all here at the Center, and help keep the memory of the Holocaust alive. With rises in hate crime and the popularity of right-wing groups, this work, which starkly highlights the dangers of prejudice, is more important than ever. ”
Among the 3D testimonies – the National Holocaust Center and Museum has recorded – is the story of Janine Webber, who was born in Lvov, in the Ukraine.
Fridman, who is himself of Ukrainian origin remarked on the personal significant the projects has for him. “I was born into a Jewish family in Lvov after WWII. And I knew many people including my grandmother and father who had survival stories to tell,” he said. “The Jewish community in Lvov and elsewhere suffered terribly during the war but unlike in Poland, where the history of Auschwitz, and the other death camps, are well known, what happened in the Ukraine and elsewhere in Soviet Territories occupied by the Germans is less known and documented.”
The 3D testimonies will be portable to reach as many youths as possible, via a tour of the country. The National Holocaust Centre’s ambition is ultimately to provide an online resource that will enable every classroom in the country to access and interact with survivor testimonies.
Ilia Salita, President and CEO, Genesis Philanthropy Group said: “The urgency of creating the National Holocaust Centre Forever Project in the UK cannot be under estimated as fewer and fewer survivors remain to tell their story. Preserving personal testimonies are critical for the next generation, who unfortunately may not be able to hear a Holocaust survivor speak in person. These testimonies help us understand issues today that are sadly becoming increasingly more pressing in the modern world, such as propaganda, fake news, racism and prejudice.”