Reporters Vanessa Thorpe and  Lucy Fulford in The Observer on the 29th of January 2012 wrote :

Director`s collection of Holocaust witness videos could alter the way history is studied

The arrival in Britain of an archive of tens of thousands of Holocaust testimonies will give much needed historical weight to the experiences of survivors ,  according to a leading scholar . David Cesarani of the Holocaust Research Centre at the University of London , believes that the US video archive set up 18 years ago by Steven Speilberg , will help to rebalance a picture that has been dominated by the study of perpetrators of the atrocities of the second world war.

The extraodinary catalogue of on personal testimony , collected by the Shoah  Foundation Institute since the film director made Schindlers List in 1993 , is housed at the University of California , but on Friday it was formally shared with academics and students at the research centre at Royal Holloway to mark Holocaust Memorial Day . The archive footage , which can be viewed by members of the public by appointment, chiefly features the memories of Jewish survivors , but some of the 52,ooo videos also tell of the experiences of other persecuted groups such as homosexuals and Jehovah`s Witnesses, as well of those of the liberating troops .

Cesarani believes the archive facility will set British historical research in the right context . “It is going to have a huge impact” he said. ” This is an authentic resource for British researchers and historians which will give them access to the experiences of people who have never written anything down.

Growing academic appreciation of the value of oral testimony will mean that the archive is well used, he believes.His views are echoed by Stephen D. Smith executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute in California . Smith and his brother James M. Smith , founded the UK Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire and the British -based Aegis Trust.

 Stephen Smith said this weekend. ” This is the voice of a conscience of our age. It`s there to help guide us and has a social value of conscience which I really hope can make a difference , and if it doesn`t we`ll rue the day, but it won`t be because the survivors didn`t  warn us”. He  said : The disempowered are now the empowered through their voices – but how prepared are we to listen?” Smith hopes that non-specialists will also visit the archive.  The USC Shoah Foundation Institute is broadening its archive to incorporate testimony from survivors of other genocides .This year Rwandan and Armenian testimony should be added to the visual history archive.

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