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Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive: Germany

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University of Southern California Shoah Foundation

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The VHA contains over 26,000 testimonies that discuss Germany, in multiple languages and countries. Among these are over 6,100 interviews with people who were born in pre-World War II Germany, 924 German-language interviews, and 672 interviews that were conducted in Germany. 

A large group of testimonies describe Germany after Hitler’s ascent to power in 1933. They detail the anti-Jewish measures and legislation, including the Nuremberg Laws; the early concentration camps such as Dachau and Oranienberg; the experience of Jewish World War I veterans; organizations such as Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden, Kulturbund deutscher Juden, and Bund Deutsch-jüdischer Jugend; the deportation of Polish-born Jews in 1938; and the November Pogrom of 1938 (also known as “Kristallnacht”). They thoroughly document the exodus of much of the German-Jewish population through emigration to the USA, the UK (Kindertransports), Shanghai, and other locations.

The wartime period of Nazi Germany is described in a number of interviews. They relate how some Jews were able to survive by hiding or concealing their identity in cities such as Berlin. Other testimonies discuss the experiences of “Mischlinge” (or “mixed Jews” - “half-Jews” and “quarter-Jews”), the role of the Berlin Jewish Hospital as an assembly point for Jews being deported as well as a temporary sanctuary for those who were “protected”, the Fabrik-Aktion and the Rosenstrasse Protest. A small number of testimonies refer to Die Weisse Rose (White Rose), as well as other German anti-Nazi resistance groups (Rote Kämpfer, Gemeinschaft für Frieden und Aufbau, Chug Chaluzi, Gruppe Baum, Internationales Lagerkomittee Buchenwald).

The experience of German Jews who were deported to ghettos in the East is also covered. The archive includes 44 interviewees born in Germany who survived the Lodz ghetto, 144 born in Germany and survived the Riga ghetto, 17 born in Germany and survived the Kaunas (Kovno) ghetto, and 7 who were born in Germany and survived the Minsk ghetto.

The Visual History Archive reflects that massive numbers of prisoners from all over Europe who experienced concentration camps in Germany such as Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, Dachau, and Ravensbrück, and labor camps in and around Berlin, Hamburg, and other cities. All of these and many others are discussed in multiple testimonies.

The archive contains 827 German-language interviews with Jewish Holocaust survivors, 41 interviews with political prisoners, 15 Sinti and Roma survivors, 13 German-language interviews with Eugenics-policies survivors, 10 rescuers and aid providers, 9 with war crimes trial participants, and 3 German-language interviews with homosexual survivors.

All 13 of the interviews with Eugenics-policies survivors are in German.

Among the German interviews are those of Mietek Pemper, Amon Goeth’s secretary for some time in the Plaszow concentration camp; Ernest Rosin, who escaped from Auschwitz in May 1944 and was one of the 4 contributors to the Auschwitz protocols; Richard Glazar, a survivor of Treblinka and war crimes trial witness; and Helge Grabitz, a senior prosecutor in Hamburg of Nazi war criminals.

Visual History Archive Curator

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Anne Grant
Cooper Library
Room 405