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Holocaust Remembrance: Survivors use artificial intelligence to preserve their stories


A computer program transforms the traumata of Holocaust survivors into digital images. These are intended to help preserve their memories for future generations.

Enlarge image

A visitor looks at paintings at an exhibition in Ashkelon, Israel.

The images were generated by artificial intelligence based on the memories of Holocaust survivors


Ehudith Bracha Serchook narrowly escaped death when her family fled Odessa from Nazi troops in 1941.

Decades later, the 86-year-old tells her life story - with the help of images created by artificial intelligence.

This way their memories will be preserved for future generations.

She is one of 19 people from Israel who have used the technology so far as part of a project by the Chasdei Naomi Organization, which supports Holocaust survivors.

"Each of them has a unique story and experienced terrible things," Sol Leffler, who is responsible for the AI ​​software, told Reuters.

“They are alive today and they can remember and it's amazing to see and hear that and then turn it into photographs.

It is our duty as Israelis to remember and not to forget.«

As he listens to the survivors as they tell their stories, Leffler writes the key moments of their stories into the Midjourney program, which uses artificial intelligence to transform the text into images.

Raisa Gurevich, born in Belarus in 1941, recounts how 21 of her relatives were murdered, including her three sisters and brother, aged between three and 13.

She tells how she holds a pink, blood-soaked coat that had belonged to her brother.

The program generates four images.

Gurevich chooses the one that, according to her memory, comes closest to reality.

Odessa Holocaust survivor Ehudith Bracha Serchook recounts the day she and her family fled the city.

"We hurried to get on the last ship (for the time being) that left Odessa, with many children and the elderly on board," she says.

'But then I lost my sandal and my family and I ran back to find it.

And that saved our lives.

Because when we came back, we saw that the ship had been bombed by the fascists and almost all the passengers had been killed.”

The family found another ship and were able to escape.

Tens of thousands of Jews were murdered in the city of Odessa after it was taken by German and Romanian troops.

When asked about her memories of a city now at war again, Serchook says it's dangerous to forget history.

“Some people would rather not think about the past.

But I think it's important to remind them and show them that everything can repeat itself and that you should never forget it."

This contribution is part of the Global Society project

Expand areaWhat is the Global Society project?

Under the title "Global Society", reporters from

Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe

report on injustices in a globalized world, socio-political challenges and sustainable development.

The reports, analyses, photo series, videos and podcasts appear in a separate section in the foreign section of SPIEGEL.

The project is long-term and is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

A detailed FAQ with questions and answers about the project can be found here.

AreaWhat does the funding look like in concrete terms?open

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has been supporting the project since 2019 for an initial period of three years with a total of around 2.3 million euros - around 760,000 euros per year.

In 2021, the project was extended by almost three and a half years until spring 2025 under the same conditions.

AreaIs the journalistic content independent of the foundation?open


The editorial content is created without the influence of the Gates Foundation.

AreaDo other media also have similar projects?open


Major European media outlets such as The Guardian and El País have set up similar sections on their news sites with Global Development and Planeta Futuro, respectively, with the support of the Gates Foundation.

Did SPIEGEL already have similar projects? open

In recent years, DER SPIEGEL has already implemented two projects with the European Journalism Center (EJC) and the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: the "Expedition ÜberMorgen" on global sustainability goals and the journalistic refugee project "The New Arrivals", within the framework of which several award-winning multimedia reports on the topics of migration and flight have been created.

Expand areaWhere can I find all publications on the Global Society?

The pieces can be found at SPIEGEL on the Global Society topic page.


Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2023-01-26

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