Friday, May 08, 2015

Shoah survivor testimonies: time is running out

Time is running out to collect and preserve the first-hand testimonies of survivors of the Shoah.

Dr Haim Gertner, Director of Archives, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, explains:
"Yad Vashem has been obtaining testimonies from Holocaust survivors since 1946 until today.Initially we obtained the testimonies in written format, subsquently audio, and from the 1980s onwards in video.

The project to obtain testimonies that the Spielberg project initiated, was carried out in the 1980s and early 1990s, and then stopped. Within that framework, some 52,000 testimonies were obtained, mostly from survivors living outside Israel.

Within Israel the Spielberg project collected around 7,000 survivor testimonies. Yad Vashem assisted the Spielberg project and reached an agreement with Spielberg whereby a complete copy of all the testimonies were provided for Yad Vashem's use. These testimonies are available to the general public at Yad Vashem as part of ourcollections.

Since the 1990s until today, Yad Vashem is the only place in the world that systematically collects testimonies from Holocaust survivors.

Initially we collected 400-500 testimonies per year, and since 2007 we strive for 1000-1200 testimonies annually, thanks to support from foundations and donors, an endeavour whereby we are working against the clock.

In general, Yad Vashem contains the world's largest collection of testimonies from survivors,which today is some 125,000 testimonies. About 40% of these testimonies were undertaken under the auspices of Yad Vashem, and 60% were undertaken by organizations and individuals around the world".
If you know a survivor who has not yet recorded his testimony, or are interested in supporting this vital work, contact Searle Brajtman, Director of the English Language Desk, Yad Vashem at
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