Dr Jana Buresova: The value of the archive during lockdown
Dr Jana Buresova is one of the Archive's interviewers. She is a committee member of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies, at the University of London, and is carrying out post-doctoral research. In 2019 she was awarded the Honorary Silver Medal of Jan Masaryk by the government of the Czech Republic for her book 'The Dynamics of Forced Female Migration from Czechoslovakia to Britain, 1938-1950'. The award is given for outstanding contributions to the development of relations between the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Her key areas of interest are political exile past and present, particularly Czechoslovak women in exile, on which she has spoken and contributed to a number of publications. She is currently co-authoring a book about the Czech Refugee Trust Fund in Britain.
Here are Jana's thoughts on the archive during lockdown:
During Britain’s Coronavirus clampdown, the highly educational Refugee Voices Testimony Archive website is already proving invaluable. A user friendly resource for anyone, of almost any age, and ideal for home study, its launch by the Association of Jewish Refugees only last November was most timely.
The website provides a raft of experiences recounted by a spectrum of Jewish refugees including former Kindertransport children, concentration and forced labour camp survivors, plus maps, photos, summaries and voiced extracts… Your family member(s) may be among them.
Have you wondered what your parents, grandpa, aunt, cousin and others went through? No two experiences are alike of course - circumstances differ and people react differently - but you could have a glimpse, an insight into their lives or those of their peers and compatriots.
As an interviewer for the archive project, I always wonder how people felt about things we take for granted. Newly restricted in my personal freedoms by government policies, such as not sitting in the park, café or bar, buying only essential items if/when available, and being unable to enjoy live public entertainment or visit family/friends, I feel that little but vital bit closer to certain refugee experiences – albeit without the danger and fear of a physical enemy.
Nevertheless, the invisible, insidious virus is alarming. This present period of physical confinement is certainly difficult yet need not be negative; so why not try searching by family surname, place name or date of birth, considering the historical background provided, and using the time to learn something new - something meaningful to you?