About The Survival and Witness Project
The Holocaust Awareness Institute’s Survival and Witness: Holocaust Education Today website is the flagship public education initiative of the University of Denver’s Center for Judaic Studies. For decades, the Holocaust Awareness Institute (HAI) has taught the lessons of the Holocaust and honored the legacy of survivors in the Front Range region. HAI’s Survival and Witness website offers a crucial resource for accurate information about the Holocaust to teachers, students, and the general public in conjunction with CO HB20-1136 mandating “Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Public Schools.” HAI provides this resource free of charge in both English and Spanish (forthcoming), and is guided by the University of Denver’s mission to be a private university committed to the public good.
University of Denver (DU) faculty and staff affiliated with HAI developed Survival and Witness following consultations with leading educators in the State of Colorado, as well as with individuals representing the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). HAI has followed the USHMM’s “Guidelines for Teaching About the Holocaust” during the development process.
All existing and future content will be reviewed by an international oversight board of Holocaust scholars (currently being constituted). Users of this website can thus be assured that every effort has been made to verify historical data, documents, and other materials. Where appropriate, references to relevant primary and secondary sources have been provided. The individual memories of survivors—many of whom were children at the time of the Holocaust and/or suffering from exhaustion, malnutrition, and fear of imminent death—is at times imprecise. When necessary, HAI has provided additional context to survivor recollections of their traumatic experiences.
In addition to conveying a sense of the horrors of the Holocaust, the various profiles of survivors featured on this site record day-to-day Jewish life in Europe before World War II. Survival and Witness thus aims not only to describe the Nazi war against the Jews, but also to contextualize how Jews lived before the Holocaust and how they resisted their oppressors during the dark years of genocide. The scope of the project—the number of featured survivors, historical events, geolocations—will continually expand in order to meet the evolving needs of educators in Colorado who will fulfill the requirements of HB20-1136.
Survival and Witness focuses on the stories of survivors who made Colorado their home in order to demonstrate the truly global scale of the trauma and dislocations engendered by the war. Many survivors who relocated to the US after the War rebuilt their lives and made significant contributions to the Colorado community. Their refugee stories are therefore relevant to America’s promise, inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty and composed by Jewish poet Emma Lazarus, to offer sanctuary to “the homeless.”
Navigation and Resources:
Survival and Witness provides users with three main resources for studying the history and memory of the Holocaust: narrative profiles, historical timeline, and interactive map. These resources mean that teachers and students can access material in terms of survivor stories, historical chronology, or geographical context. Users can tailor their experience to the level of detail they require within each of these resource functions. A comprehensive cross-indexed glossary of key concepts, people, and locations allows students and teachers easy access to the vocabulary of Holocaust study. A search feature and filters further enable users to customize their experience. This site also provides downloadable “cards” for easy classroom integration of Survival and Witness with existing USHMM activities.
Survival and Witness has drawn its content from University of Denver (DU) archives, including the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society and Beck Archives, individual survivor collections, the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive, and the holdings of academic and research institutions in the US and internationally. The site has been built by the team at Matt Bargell Design in close collaboration with HAI faculty and staff and with the financial support of DU’s Center for Judaic Studies, the Rose Community Foundation, and numerous individual donors.