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Visit to the Wiener Holocaust Library

Yesterday Archive Director Dr Bea Lewkowicz and Head of Digital Susanna Kleeman visited the Wiener Holocaust Library to deposit the original DV camera tapes for our first 150 interviews for safekeeping, and to present the Library with a hard drive containing 250 digitised interviews, for researchers to access shortly at the Library. This represented 18 years of our project and more than 1000 hours of transcripts: a great deal of work!

We were hosted by the Library's Director Dr Toby Simpson and Digital Asset Manager Leah Sidebotham. The Library has always been a great supporter of the Archive. Indeed, Mirjam Finkelstein, daughter of Library founder Alfred Wiener, is one of the voices in our collection. We are thrilled that 100 new interviews will soon be available for researchers there.

Dr Bea Lewkowicz and Dr Toby Simpson
Dr Bea Lewkowicz presents Dr Toby Simpson with the digital hard drive

Our journey began in the offices of the Association of Jewish Refugees, where we collected the three boxes of original DV tapes from the early phase of the archive, when testimony was recorded via this technology. Our first interview was carried out in January 2003 and the first phase of the project was finished in 2008. When it became clear that there were still many people who wanted to record their testimony, another phase of the project was commissioned and in 2015 interviewing was re-started and is still ongoing, this time recorded on digital memory cards.

Dr Bea Lewkowicz in her AJR office with the Finchleystrasse Map

We arrived at the Library with our three boxes and handed them over to Lea, then discussed arrangements for researchers to access the digitised interviews. The Library will need several months to process the material before it becomes publicly available. We'll let you know when that happens. Anyone wishing to access the testimonies from the Library or any other institution that makes them available will need to register with us first. You can register here.

It was a hot day and we had a refreshing tea with Dr Toby Simpson in his office while he made an official note of our transfer of the DV tapes:

Dr Toby Simpson making formal acknowledgement of receiving the DV tapes

Then we made our way to the Library's Reading Room for official handover of the digital hard drive:

It seems incredible that this one device contains so many testimonies and so many years of experiences and hard work from so many people. We want to take this opportunity to thank the people behind the voices. First: our project is nothing without our fantastic interviewees, whose generosity in sharing what happened to them is everything. Next: our main interviewers: Dr Anthony Grenville, Rosalyn Livshin, Dr Jana Buresova and Dr Bea Lewkowicz. Our camera, editing and interview digitisation is done by Frank Battersby and Simon Waxman. Behind the scenes, our fantastic editors, researchers, project administrators, digital and social media managers are: Dr Jana Buresova, Ann Rau Dawes, Jayne Reich, Kristin Baumgartner and Susanna Kleeman.

We'd also like to take the opportunity to thank Michael Newman OBE, CEO of The Association of Jewish Refugees, Andrew Kaufman MBE, Chairman of The Association of Jewish Refugees and the trustees of the AJR and everyone else from the organisation who have supported us so much over the years!


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