British Library launches ‘Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust’ Collection

Posted on 22/01/2015 by

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British Library launches Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust – an online collection of over 280 in-depth Holocaust survivors’ testimonies

This week, to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day, the British Library is launching Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust, an online resource giving worldwide access to 289 oral history interviews with Holocaust Survivors. The interviews comprise a vast collection of powerful accounts of the Holocaust from Jewish survivors living in Britain that now, thanks to this new project, have been digitised and made available for anyone to listen to online for the first time at http://sounds.bl.uk/Oral-history/Jewish-Holocaust-survivors.

The hundreds of testimonies now available online at British Library Sounds are drawn from two major oral history projects: Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre Testimony recording project which ran 1993-1998, and the Living Memory of the Jewish Community, a project run by National Life Stories at the British Library 1987-2000.

With over 1,000 hours of recordings, this is one of the largest collections of Holocaust testimonies in Europe. All but a handful of the 289 interviews have searchable content summaries and have been clustered into themes such as ‘camp experiences’, ‘Kindertransport’, ‘ghetto life’ and ‘resistance’ to enhance access for researchers.

Generously funded by the Pears Foundation and the Brian and Jill Moss Charitable Trust this digitisation project has opened access to all of these important testimonies to audiences worldwide.

Dr Rob Perks, Lead Curator of Oral History at the British Library, commented;

“This is a unique collection, one of the largest and most extensive collections of Holocaust survivor testimonies in the UK, and also one of the largest in the world. The British Library has been at the forefront of ensuring these voices are captured since the work began in the 1980s. Since then many survivors have died but their voices and experiences have been preserved. This digitisation project has helped to expand access to the collection, making the testimonies accessible online and searchable, and ensuring they can be accessed by future generations, benefitting schools, graduate and postgraduate study, historians and researchers, family, local and amateur history enthusiasts, and anyone interested in what happened during the Holocaust.”

Aviva Trup, Manager of Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre, said;

“We provide social, emotional and practical support to Holocaust Survivors. For many of our members leaving their legacy to ensure people never forget the Holocaust is extremely important to them. We support survivors who want talk about their experiences to tell their stories. We are delighted that, through our partnership with the British Library, these important survivor testimonies are now going to be widely available to all”.

The launch of Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust will be marked as part of an event at the British Library for Holocaust Memorial Day: ‘Life in a Jar: Childhood experience of the Holocaust’ on Monday 26 January 2015 at 18.30-20.00. At this event Lili Pohlmann and Sir Erich Reich, who both endured the Holocaust as children, will recollect their experiences. There will then be a screening of the emotive film ‘Irena Sendler: In the Name of Their Mothers’, which tells the story of a group of Polish women who saved the lives of thousands of Jewish children. After the screening and talk there will be an opportunity to explore the oral history interviews now available at the ‘Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust’ collection on British Library Sounds. Please visit the BL’s What’s On website for more information.

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