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Holocaust Survivor Stories Live On In Holograms

A hologram of Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter interacts with onlookers during a demonstration of the New Dimensions in Technology project. (USC Institute for Creative Technologies)

A hologram of Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter interacts with onlookers during a demonstration of the New Dimensions in Technology project. (USC Institute for Creative Technologies)

For nearly 70 years, 80-year-old Pinchas Gutter of Toronto has been telling the story of how he survived the Nazi labor camps in his native Poland.

He carries with him the memory of watching his parents and twin 10-year-old sister pulled away from him at a concentration camp, where they were killed.

Pinchas Gutter answers questions about his life on an ICT light stage surrounded by high-speed cameras and LED lights. (Paul Debevec/USC Institute for Creative Technologies)

Pinchas Gutter answers questions about his life on an ICT light stage surrounded by high-speed cameras and LED lights (click to enlarge). (Paul Debevec/USC Institute for Creative Technologies)

Now his story will live on long after he’s gone, in the form of a hologram.

The University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation is teaming up with the university’s Institute for Creative Technologies to develop interactive holograms of Gutter and other Holocaust survivors.

Not only will the projection appear lifelike, it will also respond to questions.

A prototype of the hologram has already been built by filming Gutter for 12 hours and asking him about 100 different questions.

The technology is expected to be up and running within the next year, and will be installed in select museums around the world.

The project comes at a time when an estimated six to 10 percent of Holocaust survivors die annually, according to San Francisco’s Tauber Holocaust Library and Education Program.

Their data shows that 500,000 Holocaust survivors remain worldwide, with about 120,000 of those living in the United States. Their average age is estimated to be 79.

Simulated holographic video of Pinchas Gutter speaking to students:

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  • Marv Wilkenfeld

    We are only a few years apart. I was 9 years old in 1945 and lived through the war untouched by it in a Bronx tenement. It was years later that I became aware of the impact of the horrors that my fellow Jews suffered. A few years ago, I lost a dear friend, a survivor of numerous concentration camps. We were the same age, yet I cannot imagine how I could have been able to survive what he and his family must have suffered.
    Listening to Pincus Gutter sing a song he recalled from childhood,brought tears and  deep sorrow.
    How was such inhumanity  to man possible, yet we continue to hear it today in the political rhetoric of gun rights, oppression of one group against another.
    When will we learn? When will it end?

  • gunter hiller

    Hannah Arendt, commenting on WWI said:
    “The Lost Generation had become unfit to live normal lives..normality was a betrayal of  all 
    the experiences of horror.”

    When it was over, and again,  after WWII and the Holocaust, the world failed to create 
    a new world, a moral equivalent of war, a world of compassion. 
    In the absence a humane world  antisemitism continues to thrive.

    There was a glimmer of hope after WWII, when the United Nations proclaimed”A Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”   The hope was short-lived.
     
    After the wars,  the vested interests, the economic an political powers strove to restore 
    the status quo ante:  the world of  markets which operates, not for the common good,
    but for privileged minorities. A world in which people are commodities. A world in
    which we eat and are eaten.
      
    Young Americans, now returning from the wars with post-traumatic stress and broken
    bodies must also face an amoral culture, an anxiety-filled gap.  In the war zones 
    they had cared about one another.  Many opted to return to the war for the  sake
    of those bonds.   Many have also committed suicide. 
    So did Jewish Holocaust survivors.

    For us who feel betrayed there is only one political solution: 
    The end of war. The end of poverty. The unification of humankind.

    gunter hiller, 85, a Holocaust survivor.

  • Jett_Rucker

    I’m NOT much engaged by a hologram of a person sitting in a chair talking. Holocaust survivors might justify the medium by DEMONSTRATING something that they did, or that happened to them, during the unpleasantness.

    Take Irene Zisblatt, the survivor who repeatedly swallowed diamonds that, hidden in her digestive tract, continually re-emerged in her stool. Imagine a holographic recording of her recovering the diamonds from her ordure, washing them (if that was possible at the time) and reswallowing them!

    Now THERE’s a good use of the medium!

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