Freie Universität Berlin provides access to another important interview archive with survivors of the Holocaust

Witness videos from the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies available for viewing

No 344/2017 from Dec 19, 2017

Freie Universität is offering another important resource for researching the Holocaust and its subsequent history. Researchers are now able to access Yale University’s Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies. For several years researchers at Freie Universität have had access to the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive initiated by Steven Spielberg, the Forced Labor 1939-1945 interview archive, and the Refugee Voices archive. With this new access to the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, the University Library and the Center for Digital Systems (CeDiS) at Freie Universität Berlin are making it possible to use around 4,500 additional filmed interviews with Holocaust survivors.

Since 1979 Yale University’s Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies has been documenting survivors of the Holocaust with the aim of preserving their memories and making them available to researchers and the interested public. Initiated by Laurel Fox Vlock, Dori Laub, William Rosenberg, and Geoffrey Hartman, the archive is regarded as the pioneer of videotaped oral history, the oral historiography. The collection currently includes around 4,500 interviews with a total duration of over 12,000 hours.

The individuals interviewed report on surviving in hiding places and in the concentration and extermination camps as well as on their experiences as resistance fighters and liberators. In the interview method used in the videos, the initiators attach particular importance to the fact that the survivors can structure their own narration. Thus, the interviewees are understood as experts in their own life story.

For a long time the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies was only available at Yale University. Freie Universität Berlin is now one of the few institutions in Europe to access the video interviews. Beginning now, in a specially provided workspace in the University Library, researchers can view the videos in this interview collection.


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