NEW ORLEANS (press release) – A special installation enabling visitors to have a one-on-one “conversation” with a WWII concentration camp liberator will be on view at The National WWII Museum starting February 4. Combining cutting-edge technology with the personal storytelling at the core of the Museum’s mission, Dimensions in Testimony: Liberator Alan Moskin from USC Shoah Foundation will help preserve the dialogue between those who lived through the Holocaust and new, broader audiences.
The installation will feature the interactive biography of Staff Sergeant Alan Moskin, the first American WWII veteran and first camp liberator to participate in this groundbreaking initiative. Utilizing advanced filming techniques, specialized technologies, and natural language processing, the Dimensions in Testimony interactive experience developed by USC Shoah Foundation will allow visitors to ask questions to Moskin and receive real-time responses from pre-recorded video images. The installation will also include artifacts and images from the Museum’s collection and from Moskin himself that further explore his unit’s participation in the liberation of Gunskirchen concentration camp and the unforgettable experiences of the many American troops who witnessed the horrors of the Holocaust.
“At The National WWII Museum we place primary importance on oral history and firsthand personal accounts of the war, on hearing directly from those who experienced the war,” said Kim Guise, Assistant Director for Curatorial Services. “Dimensions in Testimony allows participants to continue the conversations with Holocaust survivors and with liberators. Visitors and students can ask questions and receive real responses in the very words of those who lived through these experiences even when those witnesses can’t be present.”
Dimensions in Testimony: Liberator Alan Moskin will be displayed in New Orleans from February 4 to July 25, 2021, in The Joe W. and Dorothy D. Brown Foundation Special Exhibit Gallery on the second level of Louisiana Memorial Pavilion. The New Orleans installation is made possible through generous support from the Franco Family Fund and Karen and Leopold Sher. To ensure a safe experience, Museum visitors are asked to reserve timed admission tickets in advance, practice physical distancing by maintaining a space of six feet or greater from other visitors and wear a face mask/covering at all times.
Additionally, the Museum will present a robust schedule of free virtual programs both for the general public and specifically for students and teachers, including a virtual opening presentation on February 4 at 1:00 p.m. and a live webinar on May 4, the 76th Anniversary of the Liberation of Gunskirchen Concentration Camp, with Moskin himself, who continues to share his experiences from his home in New Jersey.
As one of 500,000 American Jews to serve in World War II, Moskin was drafted into the Army at age 18 and assigned to the 66th Infantry Regiment, 71st Infantry Division. One of his unit’s most defining and tragic moments came on March 4, 1945 in Lambach, Austria, when they arrived at Gunskirchen, a sub-camp of Mauthausen, to find nearly 15,000 Hungarian Jews who had been abandoned days prior by SS guards. Moskin, who went on to earn a law degree through the GI Bill, didn’t speak about his service or Gunskirchen until 1985 but since then has dedicated himself to sharing his story. For the Dimensions in Testimony program, Moskin was interviewed for five days and asked over 1,000 questions. The Museum installation will serve as the first public beta test of the Moskin interactive experience, helping USC Shoah Foundation to refine the experience based on the questions visitors ask and the responses they receive.
“Alan’s eloquence, story, and devotion to education were ideal qualities for the first American soldier in the Dimensions in Testimony initiative,” said Stephen D. Smith, USC Shoah Foundation Finci-Viterbi Executive Director. “It’s an honor for his interactive biography to be housed at America’s National WWII Museum, where visitors learn about the courage and sacrifices made to preserve freedom and of lessons of the Holocaust so that they may never be repeated.”