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Identification Card, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC.
From the “Education” Section of the USHMM website: “Designed as small booklets to be carried through the exhibition, the cards help visitors to personalize the historical events of the time. (…) The Museum has developed nearly 600 identification cards. Approximately half of them are about Holocaust survivors. These cards describe the experiences of those who hid or were rescued, as well as those who survived internment in ghettos and camps. The other half represent the experiences of people who died. (…) To create the identification cards, a team of five Museum staff members interviewed 130 survivors of the Holocaust. The survivors described their own experiences as well as those of relatives who died during the Holocaust. The identification cards were developed from those interviews and from other oral histories and written memoirs. Each identification card has four sections. The first section provides a biographical sketch of the person. The second describes the individual’s experiences from 1933 to 1939, while the third describes events during the war years. The final section describes the fate of the individual and explains the circumstances – to the extent that they are known – in which the individual either died or survived”.

The “story-telling” conception of the USHMM Identity Card Project parallels the dynamics of spectator’s identification with the characters of a film and equates the Museum visit to a cinematic experience. Below, page from the Chicago Tribune TV Week (16-22 April 1978) introducing to the first airing of NBC’s miniseries Holocaust through the list of the main characters.

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