Steven Spielberg Establishes the USC Shoah Foundation

The USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, formerly Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, is a nonprofit organization established by Steven Spielberg in 1994, one year after completing the Academy Award-winning film Schindler's List. The original aim of the Foundation was to record testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust (which in Hebrew is called the Shoah) as a collection of videotaped interviews.

The Foundation conducted nearly 52,000 interviews between 1994 and 1999. Interviewees included Jewish survivors, homosexual survivors, Jehovah's Witness survivors, liberators and liberation witnesses, political prisoners, rescuers and aid providers, Roma and Sinti (Gypsy) survivors, survivors of Eugenics policies, and war crimes trials participants.

In January 2006, the Foundation partnered with and relocated to the University of Southern California and was renamed the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education. Its mission is "to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry - and the suffering they cause - through the educational use of the Institute's visual history testimonies."

The Institute works within USC and with partners around the world to advance scholarship and research (for example with the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service), to provide resources and online tools for educators, and to disseminate the testimonies in its archive for educational purposes. In addition to preserving the testimonies, the Institute helps document the stories of survivors and other witnesses of other genocides. Currently, the Institute is working with the Rwandan organization IBUKA to begin a project to collect testimony from survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda that claimed as many as one million lives. Once collected and indexed, the testimony will be incorporated into the Visual History Archive, which contains all testimony previously collected by the Institute.

Inspired by his experience making Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg established the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation in 1994 to gather video testimonies from survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust. While most of those who gave testimony were Jewish survivors, the Foundation also interviewed homosexual survivors, Jehovah’s Witness survivors, liberators and liberation witnesses, political prisoners, rescuers and aid providers, Roma and Sinti (Gypsy) survivors, survivors of Eugenics policies, and war crimes trials participants. Within several years, the Foundation’s Visual History Archive held nearly 52,000 video testimonies in 32 languages, representing 56 countries; it is the largest archive of its kind in the world.