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Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

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Using the power of artificial intelligence to ensure the experiences of Holocaust survivors live forever and are never forgotten

Clementine Smith, Director of Programmes at the Holocaust Educational Trust

Manfred Goldberg - Holocaust Educational Trust - Testimony 360

Clementine Smith is director of programmes at the Holocaust Educational Trust, where she plays a crucial role in crafting educational programmes that resonate with students and educators, ensuring the history of the Holocaust is understood, that victims are remembered, and that people consider its relevance today. Her work underscores the Trust’s commitment to honouring survivors and educating future generations about the profound lessons of the Holocaust. She’s recently led a new project called Testimony 360, a free digital education programme that combines digital interactive eyewitness testimony with virtual reality, revolutionising access to survivor testimony and providing an invaluable opportunity for students to explore authentic Holocaust sites virtually.

Clementine Smith - Holocaust Educational Trust
Clementine Smith

“So far, we’ve piloted the programme focusing on the impact of the digital content and classroom resources. We’ve also tested the technology’s infrastructure in classrooms around the country. We’ve received positive feedback from over 850 students and their teachers.”

Empowering young people to be active global citizens

I studied Human Rights as an undergraduate because I always wanted to work in the charity sector. I enjoyed my studies and knew I’d end up in this field. After my master’s degree, I started working for a youth engagement organisation that empowered young people to be active global citizens.

With my background in human rights (my undergraduate degree included modules on the history of the Holocaust), I was interested in the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) and joined when they launched their youth engagement programme and I’ve been with them for about 12 years now.

The work here inspires me because it is rooted in the stories of real people, and because it focuses on developing educational content and programmes that not only educate young people about history, but also empower them to use their voices. My university background served as a springboard into my career. I love working with young people, developing new programmes, and combining education with youth engagement and empowerment to give young people the skills to use their learning in everyday life.

About the Holocaust Educational Trust

At the Holocaust Educational Trust, our aim is to educate people from every background about the Holocaust, which was the murder of six million Jewish men, women, and children by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II.

Our work primarily focuses on schools, and teachers, supporting them in bringing this complex and sensitive history into the classroom in a sensitive and educational way. We focus on teacher training, which supports teachers in developing their classroom practice. We provide historically accurate and robust content for different age ranges and subject areas and we offer a range of free programmes which schools across the country can access.

Beyond formal education, we have a youth engagement programme (our Ambassador Programme) for students who wish to learn more and share their knowledge with others.

Finally, we work hard to raise awareness of this history with the public, offering educational opportunities to those outside the school system, including a range of activities such as initiatives with local community groups, our online book club and our work with theatres or TV shows to bring this history to people from every background.

At the heart of our work is the remembrance of the six million Jewish people murdered during the Holocaust, as well as honouring those who survived. Through our work, we share their testimonies and experiences, so that people understand that when we talk about the Holocaust we’re talking about real people, real families, real communities whose lives were lost.

Director of programmes role

My core responsibility is overseeing our core educational programmes. Over the past few years, a large amount of my time has focused on the development of our Testimony 360 project, but I am also involved in our other work. We run several programmes, including teacher training, our Lessons from Auschwitz Project, the Outreach Programme and our Ambassador Programme. I work across the teams to ensure we have a holistic approach to our delivery, and I also reflect on how we use our learning to develop our work.

My daily work involves coordinating with our team. They’re amazing, and I’m lucky to work with people who have a real array of skills and expertise. In our Education Team alone, we have historians, teachers, youth engagement experts, specialists in site-based learning and testimony, and people with a background in heritage. The variety of skills and expertise is incredibly valuable as you consider engagement from a range of audiences.

We constantly evaluate our efforts to ensure our programmes meet our educational and organisational goals. A significant focus is adapting to changes, as with the Testimony 360 project, which was a product of our reflections on what the future of Holocaust education might look like when survivors can no longer share their testimonies.

Traditionally, our Outreach Programme has reached over 100,000 students annually. We also specialise in site-based learning, bringing students to authentic Holocaust sites through the Lessons from Auschwitz Project, but we can’t take everyone on those visits. How do we offer others memorable opportunities to see sites related to this history?

Through Testimony 360 we aim to create memorable learning experiences through real testimony and virtual site-based learning, helping students connect with the history beyond statistics. We aim to keep this history relevant and memorable for students, and this is a unique opportunity for students to engage

Using artificial intelligence and virtual reality technology to help people grasp the complexity of Holocaust history

For students engaging with Testimony 360, there are two core elements: interactive testimony using artificial intelligence (AI), and site-based learning using virtual reality (VR).

We recorded over 1,000 questions each with four Holocaust survivors, capturing their life stories before, during, and after the Holocaust. Students can interact with these recorded testimonies and ask questions, which conversational speech-to-text recognition AI search technology understands and plays the real-time video responses (which the real survivor recorded). We ensured authenticity by only using the survivors’ recorded words, without generative AI. This technology was developed by an organisation called the USC Shoah Foundation, with whom we worked very closely.

Initially, the platform has been launched using Manfred Goldberg’s testimony, which will be rolled out in schools from the September term. The others will follow from next year.

Additionally, students use virtual reality headsets to explore the places Manfred mentioned, like his hometown and the camp he was in.

They see these sites as they exist today, providing a tangible connection to history. For example, they can see Manfred’s street with memorials for Jewish people, including his family and neighbours. By exploring these spaces, students learn about the diverse Jewish community and how history is remembered today. They also see sites like the concentration camp at Stutthof, as well as the place where Manfred was liberated, understanding that the Holocaust did not happen behind closed doors, it took place across Europe, not only in camps and ghettos, but also in seemingly ordinary places and spaces such as towns, open spaces, transport hubs.

We hope the programme helps young people grasp the complexity of the history of the Holocaust, thinking about survivors lives before the war, as well as what happened to them during the Holocaust, and then what happened to them afterwards. Where did they end up? What happened after liberation? And where are they now?

Delivering meaningful and positive learning journeys

So far, we’ve piloted the programme in schools, focusing on developing digital content and classroom resources. We’ve also tested the technology’s infrastructure in classrooms. We’ve received positive feedback from over 850 students and their teachers. Being present in classrooms during the pilot was crucial to ensure students’ learning journey was meaningful and positive.

Holocaust Educational Trust - Testimony 360Teachers appreciate this new type of learning, and many want to book Testimony 360 for their classes. Piloting allowed us to see how the tech works in different classroom setups. For instance, we now provide headsets for interactive testimony sessions to minimise distractions. Schools usually have computers or laptops, and if not, we use projectors. For virtual reality, since most schools don’t have a full set of VR headsets, we bring them in ourselves. We developed VR content with a production company called Infinite Form, ensuring accessibility without needing extra school resources.

Testing this in schools has been successful. As we launch Testimony 360 for the 2024-25 academic year, we will continue evaluating and learning from classroom experiences to refine the programme. Last week, we officially launched Testimony 360, and we are ready to fully embed it in classrooms from the September term.

Ensuring the world never forgets about the Holocaust

First and foremost, the Holocaust Educational Trust educates about the Holocaust, ensuring that the murder of six million Jewish men, women, and children continues to have a permanent place in our memory. We aim to reach people from every background and support not only schools but also wider community groups. Readers can find more about our programmes on our website, including our Outreach Programme where survivors share their testimonies.

For parents and those in schools, colleges, and universities, more information about Testimony 360 is available on our website. Currently, Testimony 360 is being rolled out in schools, but we hope to expand in the future. This expansion will depend on fundraising and development efforts. We have many programmes open to schools, and you can learn more about them on our website and social media.

Many people are particularly interested in the survivors we work with. You can read about them on our website, which provides an introduction to their experiences during the Holocaust. Testimony is central to our mission. So, if you want to help, share our programmes with schools and teachers. To learn more about the experiences of Holocaust survivors, visit:

Coming up next

For the charity, we’re rolling out Testimony 360 and continuing our core programmes throughout the 2024/25 academic year.

The 2024-25 academic year will be the formal rollout of Testimony 360, and we have received a lot of interest. We’re mapping out the year ahead to reach as many schools as possible, which is exciting for us.

Personally, I want to share our learning with as many people as possible. This project is new for HET and the Holocaust education sector, bringing this type of technology into classrooms. It’s been a huge undertaking, and I’m excited to share our experiences and learn from others.

We are committed to evaluating our project and sharing good practices from classrooms. We want Testimony 360 in as many classrooms as possible and to help others using digital technology in education. I hope our learning can support others as they think about the future of digital education.


Schools can register for access to Testimony 360 here:

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