Holocaust History On CD-ROM

Director Steven Spielberg's involvement with Holocaust history did not end with the release of the Oscar-winning Schindler's List in 1994. On Tuesday, in front of an audience of New York City students, he unveiled Survivors: Testimonies of the Holocaust, an interactive CD-ROM designed to teach young people about cultural tolerance.

For the project, interviews were done in 55 countries and in 31 languages, although the CD-ROM zeroes in on the history of four survivors in particular.

Holocaust survivor Sol Wieder told the students, "You're lucky to see a few Holocaust survivors right here. Your children will not see one, because we won't be here anymore. So I'm basically grateful for having had the opportunity to participate in this project."

Spielberg explains, "I want [the students] to be emotionally touched by the actual voices of the survivors, who will take you through their entire life and culture and family's history."

Students can log on and trace the path of history by clicking on maps and timelines.

Says Holocaust survivor Sylvia Grohs-Martin, "If you give them something which is much more adventurous and new, and there are buttons to press, and there are countries to see, and there are voices to hear - and facesÂ…"

Sol Wieder on CD-ROM (CBS)
On the CD-ROM, Wieder recalls his uncle's last moments: "The screaming and yelling, 'Don't leave me here!' Occasionally, it's on my mind."

On Tuesday, Wieder said, "I have to be involved and speaking out for as long as I can and as long as I have a spark. I feel I'm contributing something to my parents, who were so good to me."

The massive collection of firsthand accounts is reaching students in ways a history book never could.

"The CD-ROM program," says student Edwin Torres, "is the next best thing to learning [with] hands-on experience."

Most importantly, the message from the survivors was crystal clear to students, as voiced by Holocaust survivor Paula Lebovics: "We have to learn to tolerate each other so this never happens again."

Adds Edwin Torres, "History won't repeat itself if we learn."

Some students make a connection between the Holocaust and the most painful chapters of their own ethnic history.

"The HolocaustÂ…is similar to slavery times, because they were put in camps and treated like animals," observed student Monique Sheppard. "African Americans were put on plantations and treated like animals also."

For the survivors, the CD-ROM is a modern tool to pass heir experiences to future generations. Says Grohs-Martin, "It's the only legacy I can give them."

Survivors: Testimonies of the Holocaust was produced through the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which Spielberg himself helped establish after making Schindler's List. Winona Ryder and Leonardo DiCaprio narrate.

All proceeds from the CD-ROM will go back into Holocaust teaching programs.