Miami Holocaust survivor records holographic history lesson
Long after he's gone, 93-year-old Holocaust survivor David Schaecter will live on in holographic form — educating the youth about the horrors he endured in the hope they'll be inspired to rid the world of bigotry.
What's happening: The Miami resident's life story, including his escape from Nazi captivity at 15, will be turned into a holographic video display at the planned Boston Holocaust Museum, which is slated to open in 2025.
- The interactive display will be able to receive spoken questions from museum visitors and respond in real time with pre-recorded answers about topics relevant to the Holocaust and Schaecter's personal life.
Why it matters: The number of living Holocaust survivors continues to dwindle, and future generations will lose out on the opportunity to hear directly from a survivor about their experiences.
- The video testimonies, which make two-dimensional images appear three-dimensional, provide an intimate history lesson that may resonate more with young people in this digital age than black-and-white textbook photos.
- "When we talk about millions, that's a statistic. When we talk about one person, that's a story," Jody Kipnis, co-founder of the new Boston museum, told reporters.
His story: Schaecter, originally from Czechoslovakia but a Miamian since 1956, survived four concentration camps and escaped Nazi captivity when he was transported to another camp on a train in 1944.
- The rest of his family — including his parents, three siblings and a total of 100 relatives — was killed in the camps.
What they're saying: Schaecter told Axios he was feeling a mixture of happiness, humility and bashfulness about the prospect of becoming an interactive museum exhibit.
- "Who the heck am I talking to?" he joked, before saying he hoped to inspire children with his story.
- "I want them to tell the story that they heard me telling them when I'm no longer [alive], and that's my purpose," he said.
How it works: Schaecter will spend this week at a Miami TV studio surrounded by green screens and cameras answering up to 1,000 questions as part of the five-day interview process.
- The questions, compiled by a research team, delve into every aspect of Schaecter's life but also include questions that students may ask, like "What is your favorite color?"
Ryan Fenton-Strauss, director of media and archives at the USC Shoah Foundation, which developed the display, said his goal is to create a comforting environment for survivors to tell their stories, which will involve reliving traumatic experiences.
- "This is not an easy task that we're asking David to go through," he said.
What we're watching: The Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, which Schaecter helped found, plans to use holographic technology in the planned expansion of its campus, which is expected to break ground this year.
- Kipnis said Schaecter's testimony would debut in Boston but then be displayed at other museums.
- "We would love to have Miami use David as one of their exhibits," Kipnis said.
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