USC Shoah Foundation Acquires Testimonies from Armenian Genocide Survivors

Published in the California Courier (March 15, 2018).

The USC Shoah Foundation announced the receipt of one of the largest collections of testimonies from survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

The testimonies were recorded over several decades beginning in the 1970’s by Richard Hovannisian, a leading scholar on the genocide and the son of a genocide survivor.  The collection includes more than 1,000 interviews, making it the largest non-Holocaust-related collection added to the Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive.  It is also the archive’s only audio-only collection.

The collection also includes documents and photographs relating to each interview, along with transcripts and translations.  Many of the testimonies were recorded in Armenian, but about 20 percent are in English and some are in Turkish and Spanish.

An estimated 1.5 million Armenians died in the World War 1-era genocide.  “The figure ‘a million and a half’ can roll right over our shoulders,” Hovannisian said.  “But it’s different when you take those individual interviews and start listening to them one by one.  And then it becomes a million-and-a-half individuals and the loss of a civilization, of a way of life, a space where people lived for more than 3,000 years, and everything that space contained.”

The Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education includes 55,000 testimonies from eyewitnesses to the Holocaust and other genocides.