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HOLOCAUST ORAL HISTORY PROJECT RECEIVES MAJOR AWARD

Recently the California First Amendment Coalition awards its coveted "First Amendment Award" to the Holocaust Oral History Project of San Francisco.

The award was presented on September 28 at the California First Amendment Assembly, held in Los Angeles and co- sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the California Society of Newspaper Editors, the California Broadcasters Association, the Radio-TV News Directors Association, the Radio-TV News Association, the California Chicano News Media Association, the Associated Press News Executives of California, the Freedom Forum Pacific Coast Center, the First Amendment Project and the First Amendment Congress.

The award recognizes the Holocaust Oral History Project for its efforts to "communicate the truth of the past," and for the Project's efforts to help "the truth come out." The award is for people and projects who "tell stories that haven't been told." Specifically cited was Holocaust Oral History Project work in bringing to the world hidden stories of the segregated World War II Japanese American 522nd Field Artillery Battalion in the liberation of the Dachau death march and selected subcamps of Dachau. Also mentioned was the Project's work in the dissemination to the public of information about World War II Japanese Consul Chiune Sugihara's rescue of thousands of Polish Jewish refugees in Lithuania in 1940.

The work with both the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion and Chiune Sugihara grew out of international touring photographic exhibits researched, developed and produced by Holocaust Oral History Project historian and exhibit curator Eric Saul. Both photographic exhibits are currently on multi-year touring programs, and have already shown to more than one million people worldwide.

Over the past 15 years, the Holocaust Oral History Project has collected 1,700 interview sessions with 1,400 survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust. The Project has created one of the largest collections of tapes and transcripts in the world. This archive provides the public with chilling and detailed accounts of the events of the period and the Jewish struggle to survive under the Third Reich.

Other Project accomplishments include 150 Russian-language interviews, which form one of the world's largest collections of Russian- language Holocaust oral histories. The project also has eight Gypsy Holocaust interviews, and one interview with a gay camp survivor. The Project has transcribed 8009 of its interviews. The Project has consulted with and done training for Steven Spielberg's Survivors of the Shoah project. The Holocaust Oral History Project has also produced and distributed a 30-hour television series. The Project was honored by Media Alliance and the Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club for its work in 1992.

The Project is proud to have brought the story of the "Japanese Schindler" to light. Chiune Sugihara saved the second highest number of Jews during the war, and his story was virtually unknown until last year. Chiune Sugihara was the Consul General for Japan to Lithuania and signed 2,100 visas allowing over 6,000 Jews to escape Nazi-occupied Europe.

The Project has curated a traveling international photographic exhibit on this remarkable story. Twenty-five museums around the world have booked this exhibit, which has already been seen by nearly a million people. The Project has also published a glossy photographic catalogue of the exhibit. The Project has also served as the editors to the biography of Mrs. Yukiko Sugihara, the widow of Chiune Sugihara.

The Holocaust Oral History Project has also brought to the world the story of the segregated 522nd Field Artillery Battalion playing a role in the liberation of the Dachau death march and Dachau subcamps.

The Holocaust Oral History Project has become one of the preeminent Holocaust education organizations in the country. At the Project, the issues of racism and genocide are discussed on a daily basis. In the 20th century, more than one hundred million people have died in genocidal conflicts. Genocidal war is based in racism. To help counteract this, one aspect of Holocaust Oral History Project work focuses on the actions of righteous gentiles, such as Chiune Sugihara.

In the present world of ethnic and political conflict, it is important to tell stories of one ethnic group helping a different ethnic group. This helps bring peace to the world. It puts into peoples' minds a paradigm of cooperation instead of conflict, and provides moral guidance in our troubled age.

In its public education efforts, the Holocaust Oral History Project widely disseminates testimony from survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust to millions of people worldwide. In the past year alone, more than 300 news stories have been written about Holocaust Oral History Project work and disseminated worldwide by the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, the Oakland Tribune, the Mercury News, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the San Francisco Weekly, the San Francisco Independent, CBS News, ABC News, CNN, Nippon Television, the New York Times, the New York Post, Time Magazine, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press and many other news organizations, including many from Europe and Asia.

With the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC; with the opening of Steven Spielberg's movie Schindler's List; and with the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II; the Holocaust Oral History Project now gets twice the number of calls from survivors asking to be interviewed; and even more calls from children of survivors asking the Project to interview their parents.

The Holocaust Oral History Project has received awards, legislative resolutions and letters of support for its work from many people, including Governor Pete Wilson; Senator Barbara Boxer; Senator Dianne Feinstein; Congressman Tom Lantos; Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi; former Congressman Robert T. Matsui and many others.

Holocaust Oral History Project base funding is provided by Steven Spielberg's Righteous Persons Foundation of Los Angeles. Other recent support has come from the Koret Foundation, the California Council for the Humanities, the Bill graham Foundation, the Marin Community Foundation and the Vanguard Foundation. Support has also come from Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., the Minolta Corporation, the Sony Corporation, Brother International, Fujifilm, and many other individual donors and organizations.


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