VE Day 2020
For the seventy-fifth anniversary of VE Day watch a short video of interviewee recollections. While the end of the war was a happy event for some, for many refugees the day also often meant the end of their hope of being reunited with their families and parents.
REFUGEE VOICES is the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR)'s groundbreaking Holocaust testimony collection of 235 filmed interviews with Jewish survivors & refugees from Nazi Europe who rebuilt their lives in Great Britain. The interviews are not available to view online but may be seen by getting in touch with the collection holders.
Explore this site to find out more about the interviewees & their experiences, view their photos & documents, learn about their journeys & discover the wider community that has grown up around the project. Please note that the copyright of personal photos and documents on the site are held by each interviewee and may not be reproduced without their permission. Please get in touch if you have questions.
Current number of photos and documents on the site:
Message from Dr Bea Lewkowicz
Director, Refugee Voices Testimony Archive
Please explore our site to learn about the lives of the many Jewish refugees and survivors who escaped from Nazi Europe in the late 1930's or came to the UK post WW2.
The Refugee Voices Oral Histories present us with a unique ‘history from below’, narrated by individuals who experienced major historical and political events in the 1930s and 1940s and whose lives were profoundly affected by these events. The interviews give us a unique opportunity to learn about the multi-facetted pre-war and post-war lives of the interviewees and to find out how they have coped with the experiences of persecution, separation, loss, adaptation, and settlement in the UK. Through the narrated story, photographs, and documents, we can understand the wider cultural context of the interviewees and their close circle, as evidenced for example in often moving correspondence with parents and relatives, many of whom did not survive.
Some interviewees have told their story for the first time, some have told it many times before. When the family receives a copy of the interview, I have been told many times that the interview contains stories that the children have never heard before. The Refugee Voices Archive is grateful to all the interviewees who invited us to their homes and shared their life histories.
In one recent interview, the interviewee showed us her autograph book. In it we found the following entry by one of her teachers: ‘Die Erinnerung ist ein Paradies aus dem wir nicht vertrieben warden koennen’ (memory is a paradise from which we cannot be banished).
While most interviewees were banished from their homelands, their memories remained. The Refugee Voices Archive will ensure that their memories will be preserved, disseminated, and passed on to the next generations. We would like to invite students, scholars, educators and the general public to critically engage with the Refugee Voices oral history testimonies and by doing so to create a lasting legacy for the future.
-- Dr Bea Lewkowicz
Read more about the project here.
The AJR is immensely proud to present our unique collection of testimonies, captured for posterity and for the study of the Holocaust refugees and survivors who settled in Britain.
Through our ground-breaking Refugee Voices project we have chronicled the lives of the interviewees to present an easy to use archive that is already accessible at some of the world's leading institutions specialising in the study of the Holocaust.
My congratulations to everyone involved in assembling our remarkable resource, in particular to our project Director, Dr Bea Lewkowicz, and to Dr Tony Grenville who co-directed with Bea the first part of the collection.