Marking 75 years since the Kristallnacht attacks of November 9-10, 1938, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Oral History Division launched a new website where the public can search and access 900 previously unavailable Holocaust-related voice recordings and transcripts.

 900 early Holocaust interviews available online

 

Copyright: Hebrew University of Jerusalem

One of the earliest-recorded oral history archives of the Shoah, this new resource will provide educators with an invaluable teaching tool and will benefit the study, research and production of materials relating to the Shoah. The public can access the materials online, through a new website created with the assistance of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Multimedia Department.

Even before the website’s formal launch, several families were surprised to discover in the collection their relatives’ Holocaust testimonies, which in some cases they didn’t know existed.

  • The Nordlicht family discovered the testimony of Tova Gusta Nordlicht and for the first time heard her account of the resistance in Poland. Her grandson Gal wrote to the Oral History Division: “I never heard this story before, and it was incredible to hear it after all these years.”

  • The descendants of Laslo Samushi discovered his testimony concerning the rescue of Jewish children in Hungary from 1944 until the liberation.

  • The Even Dar family discovered an interview with their grandfather Simcha Even Dar. This is the only recorded documents the Even Dar family has of Simcha’s involvement in the Bricha (the underground organized effort that helped Jewish Holocaust survivors escape post-World War II Europe to pre-state Israel) and Aliyah Bet (immigration by Jews to pre-state Israel in violation of British restrictions).

Interviewees of particular interest to the Israel Foreign Ministry include Asher (Arthur) Ben-Natan, Israel’s first ambassador to Germany, and Ehud Avriel, one of Israel’s early ambassadors to Africa.

Prof. Dalia Ofer, the Max and Rita Haber Prof. of Holocaust and Contemporary Jewry, Emeritus at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry: “These on-line testimonies are an outstanding contribution that will help spread knowledge and understanding of the Jews’ daily lives and their struggle to survive during the dark period of the Holocaust. It represents the dedication of the Oral History Division of the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry to enable the public, who often sought out the university’s’ collections, to use the testimonies as part of their regular study and interest in the life of the Jews during this period.”

The Oral History Division is part of the Hebrew University’s Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry. The Holocaust collection has been made available through the generous support of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
 
About the Oral History Division:

The Oral History Division archive contains the memories of individuals from Israeli and Jewish society throughout its modern history. The archive contains rare testimonies from Holocaust survivors, key individuals in the Zionist movement, organizations such as the United Jewish Appeal, men and women who grew up under the British mandate in Palestine, under Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, or in various Jewish communities throughout the world. 

The Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry [ICJ] began collecting oral histories for the purposes of historical research in 1959. These early interviews, covering a wide range of subjects and conducted according to highly professional standards, granted the ICJ the distinction of being the most important academic collection of oral documentation in Israel. The Oral History Division’s collection of more than 10,000 interviews in 20 languages constitutes a unique treasure of Jewish memories that will provide future researchers with an invaluable social history of the Yishuv, the State of Israel and Jewish communities in the Diaspora. Researchers can visit the Division to read transcripts and listen to recordings. Digitized interviews are also being made available on the web.