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Holocaust site open to broadband users

A Steven Spielberg-backed foundation launches a Web site designed as a high-speed gateway into its vast catalog of testimonies from Holocaust survivors.

A Steven Spielberg-backed foundation launched a Web site Thursday designed as a high-speed gateway into its vast catalog of testimonies from Holocaust survivors.

The site for the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation features snippets of survivor and witness testimonies and information about the organization's digital library. Access to the testimonies, however, is only available to people using high-speed connections and Apple Computer's QuickTime media player.

The site also promotes the foundation's initiatives and educational resources including CD-ROMs and film documentaries.

The launch comes as the Web continues to be an online battleground for Nazi proponents and human rights advocates. The online sale of hate-related materials, ranging from anti-Semitic books to Ku Klux Klan cloaks, has repeatedly drawn criticism from anti-hate groups and has led sites such as eBay and Yahoo to ban such items.

Meanwhile, the Internet is becoming a new archival medium for historical documents and genealogical material. Last month, Cornell University and Rutgers University began publishing online documents from the Nuremberg trials. The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation launched a site last year that provides access to historical immigration information.

"You're seeing now a lot of these organization sites, nonprofit sites, realizing that the depth and wealth of information that they have and bringing it online can benefit both the end user as well as the foundation itself," said Carolyn Clark, media analyst at NetRatings. As broadband and streaming increasingly take hold, "the capabilities of bringing video and audio archived documents online to the masses will be even greater."

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum also has a Web site that includes online exhibitions, testimonies and a Holocaust learning center.

The Shoah Foundation said it hopes similar features on its site will increase awareness--and help it solicit funding.

"The new Web site is the first step in broadening public access to the astounding collection of eyewitness testimonies in the Shoah Foundation archive," Douglas Greenberg, the Shoah Foundation's chief executive, said in a statement.

Spielberg established the Shoah Foundation in 1994 after filming the award-winning epic drama, "Schindler's List." The foundation said it has videotaped the testimonies of more than 50,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses in 57 countries and in 32 languages.