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Digital History Website Review

“Give Me Your Children: Voices from the Lodz Ghetto”. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/lodz/

Due to the sheer size and array of links on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s official website, my online web-site review will concentrate on the online exhibit entitled “Give Me Your Children: Voices from the Lodz Ghetto.”

Because the online exhibit “Give Me Your Children: Voices from the Lodz Ghetto” is an extension of the USHMM website, it ultimately advances the mission of the museum as well. The mission of USHMM is:
“to advance and disseminate knowledge about this unprecedented tragedy; to preserve the memory of those who suffered; and to encourage its visitors to reflect upon the moral and spiritual questions raised by the events of the Holocaust as well as their own responsibilities as citizens of a democracy.”http://www.ushmm.org/museum/mission/

The Lodz Ghetto online exhibit contains biographies, interviews, and accounts from children survivors of Lodz.  Additionally, the mixture of media- in the form of text, pictures, and videos- all enhance the content of the exhibit. The content is based on very recent interviews which took place with survivors through the USHMM in 2007. In turn, this contributes to the reputation of the USHMM as one of the most comprehensive resources for Holocaust information and research.

In terms of content, and as the title suggests, the Lodz exhibit focuses on the children of Lodz. The biographies, interviews, and personal accounts all advance the history of the children who lived there. The site’s content and arrangement have a defined purpose and way of interpreting the primary sources included in the exhibit. The children are the focus of the Lodz Ghetto exhibit because “they are the most vulnerable to turmoil…and the future rides on the decisions made for or about them.” The concentration of this specific victim group is yet another way to examine and interpret the Holocaust. This fits in with and expands the greater historical approach of the USHMM. Finally, all of the links to online resources and other exhibits pertain to Lodz, children, ghettos, or all three. These sources are available on online libraries and encyclopedias.

The content and primary sources are collected and support the survivor’s perspective, like most of the material available on the USHMM website. Because the mission is to advance and remember the unprecedented tragedy of the Holocaust, the perspective of the survivors must be a priority. Throughout the website there is some attention to the perpetrators but not much was found on this exhibit site. Yet, because the exhibit focuses on child survivors I do not know how that perspective could be included that would enhance the stories of the children of Lodz. Regardless, whenever possible, multiple perspectives could be included to demonstrate the larger historical background as both perpetrators and survivors interacted with one another.

Accessibility of a website is vital in order to convey any sort of message. Therefore, the Lodz Ghetto exhibit excels in terms of its accessibility. The left toolbar of the website has over ten language options for translating the exhibit. In addition to these language options, the links and resources within the exhibit and beyond are clearly labeled and highlighted in blue. Finally, the layout of the exhibit pages is streamlined to fit the layout of USHMM website as a whole, as it is one of many pages within the site.

The colors are simple and fitting for the content. The presentation of the text, mixed with video or picture links, is simple and minimalist. There is nothing overwhelming or distracting to the eye and the pages are purposefully designed vertically and are to be read in that format. The only concern I had with accessibility was in terms of technology and the connections to the video links. There was a video I could not access because I did not have a version of Adobe. While this may not be an issue for many, for those who do not have advanced computer access or skills, they may miss out on some opportunities and resources. Regardless, there is enough content and transcripts available that anything missed could be supplemented with the abundant amount of resources in the exhibit pages.

Overall, the audience for this website would be anyone interested in Holocaust studies. For those with little background there are links to a beginning or general overview of a topic, like the Lodz Ghetto, which then leads to more detailed events or stories. Although many who visit may have a personal connection or conviction to learning about the Holocaust, academic professionals would certainly be interested in the site as well as educators. The focus of the Lodz Ghetto exhibit is on children survivors, so this could possibly relate to those in secondary schools. The material is accessible enough to those in secondary schools but rich enough with information and nuance that it could be useful to older visitors. Also, because the Lodz Ghetto exhibit is full of primary sources, this site could be a starting point for a person’s academic research.

{ 5 } Comments

  1. Emory Mozdzierz | April 10, 2010 at 11:48 am | Permalink

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