In 1979, a grassroots organization called the Holocaust Survivors Film Project began videotaping Holocaust survivors and witnesses in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1981, the original collection of testimonies was deposited at Yale University and we opened our doors to the public the following year.
The mission of the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies is to remember. Our survivor testimonies are of distinct individuals, but together they reveal common dangers. The Holocaust was unlike any other crime, and in its bottomless depths we hear the echoes of all human wrongdoing. We know what happens when societies are falsely divided by race, when language is used as a weapon, when lies replace truth. We know what happens when some citizens are treated as second class, when police break their oaths, when high officials endorse lawlessness. We know what happens when no one offers a helping hand, no one raises a voice, no one takes a risk. The call to remember includes remembering that Hitler admired American racism. The call to remember includes remembering that our soldiers defeated Nazi Germany fighting in apartheid units and then returned to a racist country. (Listen to the testimony of Leon Bass) The call to remember means little if we forget our own possibilities for evil and our own responsibility for good. We support those who demonstrate for justice, and we condemn racist murder with utter and absolute abhorrence. It was the Nazis who called upon police and soldiers to be racial warriors. Never again.
Richard C. Levin Professor of History