Oral History Department

Oral History Department

The Oral History Department is an ongoing project for The Zekelman Holocaust Center’s Library Archive and has recorded the testimonies of Holocaust survivors, liberators, veterans who served in the European Theatre of War, other witnesses and rescuers since the early 1980s. The HC has amassed a collection of more than 700 audio and video interviews. These testimonies provide invaluable historical information that can be used by generations of historians, psychologists, and social scientists.

The scope of the oral history collection also encompasses the personal narratives of those who witnessed the escalation of the Nazis’ anti-Jewish campaign in Austria, Germany, and other countries that fell under German domination. The accounts of those people who escaped, alone or with their families, before the Nazis closed all escape routes, are included as well.

This collection is available for viewing and research in the Library Archive. The oral histories are indexed by the last name of the interviewee. Also listed are place of birth, identification, and places of affiliation (e.g., ghettos, concentration camps). As time grows short for witnesses to the Holocaust, The HC is eager to record additional oral histories.


The Importance of Oral Histories

As time grows short for Holocaust survivors, the necessity to record their accounts of this period of history is imperative. Recognizing the urgency of this need, The HC has stepped up its interviewing efforts. The HC therefore asks that anyone who lived through this period and witnessed the Holocaust please contact the museum to record your story.

The HC collects the testimonies of Holocaust survivors, whether they were in the camps, in hiding, passing as non-Jews, in the partisans or a resistance movement, or were able to leave Europe before it was too late. Also of great importance are the accounts of the liberators who unexpectedly encountered the results of the Nazis’ extermination machine when they entered the camps, the stories of Righteous Gentiles, those who helped save Jewish lives, and any other eyewitness to Nazi persecutions.

The HC’s interviewers and professional videographers will accommodate any individual scheduling requirements. Language is not a barrier.

Giving a testimony not only benefits Holocaust researchers but also becomes a legacy for the interviewer’s own family. Each interviewee is given a DVD copy of his/her testimony to share with family and friends.

If you are interested in recording your testimony please contact:
Feiga Weiss at 248.553.2834 or feiga.weiss@holocaustcenter.org


Categories of Interviewees

Emigre – A person who left Germany or German occupied countries legally (with passport, visa, etc.).

Emigre/Kindertransport – A person under age 18 who left Germany or German occupied countries through the organized “Kindertransport” (transport of children) either with or without visas or passports.

Escapee – A person who was forced to leave Germany or German occupied territory because of the antisemitic development

Eye-Witness – A non-Jewish observer of Nazi activities and atrocities.

Jewish-American Prisoner of War – A Jewish-American soldier taken prisoner during WWII.

Liberator – A person involved in the liberation of concentration, labor, extermination or detention camps.

Member of the Underground – A person who was a part of the underground movement during WWII.

OSS Agent – A person who was an agent for the U.S. Office of Special Services (the predecessor to the CIA) during WWII.

Partisan – A person who contributed to the partisan effort during WWII.

Righteous Gentile – A non-Jew who aided Jews during the Holocaust.

Survivor/Camps – A person who was confined in a ghetto or a concentration, labor, extermination or detention camp and survived.

Survivor/Escapee – A person who escaped from a concentration, labor, extermination, or detention camp, or from a ghetto, or who fled from the advancing German army, or left Germany or German occupied countries illegally.

Survivor/False Papers – A person who used false identification papers as a means for survival.

Survivor/Hidden – A person who was in hiding for a period of time during WWII.

Survivor – A person who survived the Holocaust, whose experience does not fit an above category.

U.S. Service Person – A member of the US Armed Forces during WWII who witnessed Nazi activities and atrocities.

U.S. Army Intelligence Operative (Ritchie Boys)

Index with Summaries

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