Survivor testimonies—firsthand accounts from individuals who lived through genocide and other atrocities—help students more deeply appreciate and empathize with the human and inhuman dimensions of important moments in history. They supplement what we learn from historians and secondary sources by offering unique perspectives on the difficult and sometimes impossible situations individuals were forced to confront during moments of collective violence and injustice.
The aging of members of our precious survivor network and the advent of digital testimony that is both available and accessible have changed the landscape of what it means to hear an authentic eye witness account. New technologies provide the opportunity for the children and now the grandchildren of survivors who are devoted to their own family story to add new dimensions that support teaching about the Holocaust in classrooms. New tools, such as IWitness allow us to create the proper historical context for each survivor story.
Facing History has created the video "Passing the Torch" to help children and grandchildren introduce their own family legacy.
The classroom discussions that follow an exploration of survivor visits often complicate students’ ideas about choices, compassion, courage, rescue, resistance, memory, and legacy. These rich conversations reconfirm the significance of our work—to educate students to find their voice and then use it to contribute to the world around them.