The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany
The Claims Conference collaborates with Verbit to transform Holocaust survivor testimonies into searchable and accessible records, with the aim of transcribing eight million minutes from various sources.
In a Nutshell
Founded in 1952, the Claims Conference is committed to the important work of negotiating for material compensation for Holocaust survivors as well as funding research, documentation and education of the Holocaust. This work includes preserving oral histories from Holocaust survivors collected over decades by archives supported by the Claims Conference.
The Claims Conference team is now partnering with Verbit to accurately and efficiently transcribe thousands of minutes of survivor testimony. The ultimate goal is to transcribe eight million minutes of testimonies, recorded in many languages, collected from eight archives in Israel and a ninth at Yale University. These testimonies will then become searchable and more accessible to researchers, educators and the public.
The Importance of This Work
As the Holocaust survivor population continues to wane, it becomes more pressing to accurately capture, word-for-word written transcripts of their testimonies. Transcribing their words ensures their stories are preserved and will be accessible to future generations. Transcription will also allow for translation of these testimonies into different languages, opening the stories up to a global audience and creating opportunity for more global education programing.
Given that most Holocaust survivor testimony has been preserved in an oral format via video and other recordings, it is very difficult and work intensive to research the literally millions of minutes of testimony in an efficient way. Those researching Holocaust history may have to watch hundreds of testimonies to find relevant information for a particular event or person. The Claims Conference has long sought an efficient, scalable and reliable way to enable access to information within these testimonies in an easily searchable format.
With Verbit as a new partner, the Claims Conference is in a stronger position to ensure survivors’ voices and testimonies remain intact for future generations.
With survivors’ testimonies recorded in many languages, Verbit is working to ensure the Claims Conference has the support needed to create searchable transcripts of millions of minutes in Hebrew, English, Russian, Polish, Greek, Hungarian and Spanish. Verbit’s team is trained, and their technology is capable of assisting with accurate transcription regardless of the speaker’s accent or limitations. To assist in accurate transcription, the Claims Conference sent Verbit a glossary of relevant terms created by the archives. As new terms emerge in a testimony, they are continuously added to the glossary so that names, places and niche terminology can be detected accurately and with greater ease for quicker work.
Due to the rise in Holocaust distortion, a high level of accuracy is even more vital to protect the integrity of these first-person accounts. The Claims Conference is accessing Verbit’s leading automatic speech recognition technology to have this work completed quickly. Verbit’s human editors are also checking the work to maintain accuracy given the large volume of transcription needed.
"Unfortunately, in the not-so-far future, we will have to tell the story of the Holocaust in a world without survivors. Their testimonies should be treated as the most sensitive material. Despite technical challenges, such as poor-quality audio and varied dialects and accents, the transcriptions must be accurate. Verbit understood the need for accuracy and the historical significance of this work early on in the project."
Claims Conference has already started transcribing thousands of minutes of testimonies in Hebrew. Partnering with Verbit enables the Claims Conference to efficiently tackle this essential work while achieving high-quality results. The ultimate goal is to make millions of minutes of testimonies available in accessible, searchable formats. Verbit is helping to preserve these histories accurately so that future generations can easily access the word-for-word accounts of Holocaust survivors.
A more efficient transcription process
Partnering with Verbit eliminated the need for labor-intensive manual transcription. Now, the technology handles the bulk of the work while humans perform edits and check for accuracy.
Leaning on Artificial Intelligence trained on niche subject matter
Verbit is using a glossary of relevant and specific terms relating to survivor stories and Holocaust history to train its AI. This process is contributing to more accurate results and supporting efforts to transcribe recordings of individuals speaking in different languages and with diverse accents..
Greater accessibility with searchable archives
Creating a textual version of survivor accounts makes the search process easier for researchers and family members. It’s possible to search for relevant terms and identify items that are of specific interest instead of listening to the whole recording.
About Claims Conference
Claims Conference negotiates with the German Government to secure material compensation for Holocaust survivors around the world. Currently, the Claims Conference is working with more than 210,000 survivors in 83 countries and allocates grants to over 300 social service agencies worldwide providing vital services for survivors, such as homecare, food and medicine. As a part of its mission, the Claims Conference also allocates funds through its Research, Education and Documentation Department to archive Holocaust–related documentation and survivor testimonies. This work helps to preserve survivor accounts in a way that is accessible for researchers, family members and others. The project with Verbit is sponsored by the foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” and supported by the German Federal Ministry of Finance.