There is so much we can learn from the past, and we should – as history repeats itself unless we learn its lessons. And the best lessons can be heard from those who have actually been through all of that.
Gaining a different perspective on the past is something not many people have had the opportunity to do. We have all learned about the horrible events that shook the lives of many in a way that hasn’t been as engaging and hasn’t allowed for much empathy to emerge.
Perhaps this is why many people are still ignorant of just how awful these events were. Namely, WWII was one such event which made all of us think what humanity really means and how the lack of it affects us all.
For the people to gain a deeper understanding and achieve greater empathy, the best opportunity would be to have a real conversation with someone who has gone through that hell and survived.
However, this hasn’t been something that many have had the chance to do, as it has been virtually impossible for the world to get in touch with these people and hear their stories in such an engaging way – until now.
The USC Shoah Foundation, which was established by Steven Spielberg after completing his Oscar-winning film Schindler’s List, has created a technology which allows everybody to talk to Holocaust survivors “face to face,” or at least as close as it can get.
In Testimony Initiative, you can ask a holocaust survivor questions and get real-time responses as if they were physically there in the room.
As Assistant Program Manager in New Dimensions In Testimony, Jill Hegedus explains, listening to a testimony is one thing, “but when a student or someone in the museum gets to physically talk to a survivor, ask them questions, and guide the conversation, it creates a level of empathy that just isn’t there if you’re just talked to.”
This way, she explains, you can decide what you want to hear and be fully informed in the most personal way – by the Holocaust survivors themselves. The survivors have been recorded answering to a number of questions, amounting to up to 20 hours of recording per person and up to 1800 answers to different questions.
This gives the idea of learning history a whole new dimension, a dimension which is more interactive, more empathetic, and as real as it can get. Becoming aware of the suffering of people is a way of preventing such suffering to happen again.
Awareness is the answer to many of our problems as a society, and looking through the eyes of the other person is one of the best ways to achieve that awareness.
Would you like to talk to a Holocaust survivor? Watch the video below and let us know in the comments!