LOS ANGELES — The USC Institute of Armenian Studies’ Leadership Council will honor the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, established by legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg, for championing the Armenian Genocide Digitization Project, at a gala banquet to be held on April 15, 2012, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
The Shoah Foundation Institute, established by Steven Spielberg in 1994, has been part of the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences since 2006. Its Visual History Archive contains nearly 52,000 video testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust; it is one of the largest archives of its kind in the world.
The goal of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies’ Leadership Council is to bring together digital copies of all of the collections of interviews with Armenian Genocide survivors and eyewitnesses, essentially creating what may become the largest archive of Genocide eyewitness interviews. With the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s support of the Armenian Genocide Digitization Project, the interviews will be indexed, preserved and made available to scholars, students and researchers via the institute’s Visual History Archive. The J. Michael Hagopian/Armenian Film Foundation archive of nearly 400 filmed eyewitness testimonies will be the first collection in the Armenian Genocide Digitization Project.
In addition to honoring the USC Shoah Foundation Institute on April 15, the USC Instiute of Armenian Studies’ Leadership Council also will salute the late humanitarian Armin T. Wegner and the late Armenian Film Foundation founder and documentary filmmaker J. Michael Hagopian.
A German with a doctorate in law, Wegner served as a volunteer medic during World War I. Witnessing the massacre of Armenians in 1915, he took the haunting photographs that today stand as a reminder of the heinous crimes of the Ottoman Turks. His work documenting the horrors of the Armenian Genocide and, subsequently, his open letter to Adolf Hitler denouncing the persecution of the Jews has made him a human rights hero.
Hagopian’s first filmed interview with a witness to the Armenian Genocide was with Wegner, in 1966.
With the attempted annihilation of the Armenian people being the first major genocide of the 20th century, the Armenian survivor and eyewitness interviews are significant to the scope of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s Visual History Archive. The USC Shoah Foundation Institute is beginning to work with partners around the world to expand its archive with existing and new testimony collections from survivors and witnesses of other genocides, including the genocides in Rwanda and Cambodia.
The USC Institute of Armenian Studies’ Leadership Council continues to play a primary role in bringing together and enhancing the Armenian community. There will be further announcements about the upcoming April 15 gala, to be held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in the Armenian press.

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