Editor’s Note: On April 26, 2018, Eva Schloss was at the Museum to speak after the screening of 116 Cameras, a documentary about Eva’s participation in New Dimensions in Testimony℠, an interactive testimony project created by USC Shoah Foundation. (You can watch the post-screening discussion here.) We were also fortunate to have Stephen Smith, Executive Director of USC Shoah Foundation, at the event to discuss the impact of this interactive testimony. An excerpt of his remarks is below.
“Fifteen Holocaust survivors have given their testimonies in this format [New Dimensions in Testimony℠]. We knew that they were giving those testimonies for the future. Inevitably, one day, they would no longer be with us. And on Thursday last week, the first of those 15 Holocaust survivors, a wonderful gentleman by the name of Aaron Elster from Chicago, Illinois, passed.
“And so, on Friday morning, less than 24 hours after Aaron Elster passed away, I went into our demonstration room and I turned on the system, and I chose Aaron’s testimony to bring up on the screen. There is Aaron sitting there, full-scale in front of me, and I hovered over the little clicker for a while, I have to tell you, because I knew that history was about to be made because the question was … What would New Dimensions in Testimony be like after Aaron had passed? So [I] clicked and I asked him, ‘Aaron, what do you want your legacy to be?’
“And he said that in his lifetime, the Holocaust had taught him about resilience. The resilience was something to treasure, and he hoped that his legacy would teach other generations the importance of resilience, and that he would be remembered for that, and that’s all he would [want] his legacy to be.
“Then I asked him another question and another and another … I thought it would be strange to be speaking with Aaron in conversation after this beloved man, who we got to know so well just like we love and cherish Eva, had left us. But it wasn’t weird … It’s precisely why he gave that testimony, so that after his death that we could continue to ask him these difficult questions, and probe the corners of his experience and continue in that dialogue and learn from him. And throughout that day on Friday last week, [for] six and a half hours, I sat and watched world leaders speaking with Aaron Elster.
“So I want to say, Eva, thank you. We will listen in generations to come and we know that what you have shared with us is not only for us here today, but for generations yet to come.”