In 1994, Steven Spielberg established the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation with the goal of gathering video testimonies from survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust. Between 1994 and 1999 the Foundation recorded over 52,000 testimonies in 56 countries and in 32 languages. These testimonies have been digitized and indexed and are now accessible to educators, students, and researchers all over the world.
The purpose of oral history testimony is not only to gather facts, but also to gain a deeper understanding of events as they were lived and filtered through personal reflection. Unlike most documentation from the period of the Holocaust, which was written by the perpetrators, oral testimony gives a voice to the survivors and other witnesses, allowing them to speak directly about their personal experiences. The USC Shoah Foundation Institute testimonies are unedited, primary sources of information. Each interview consists of a single survivor or other witness speaking about his or her life before, during, and after World War II, guided by questions from a trained interviewer. The interviews average two-and-a-half hours in length.