Fortuonff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies;
Let Them Speak: An Anthology of Holocaust Testimonies
Tens of thousands of audiovisual interviews with survivors of the Holocaust have been recorded since the end of the Second World War. While each testimony is the unique story of an individual, one commonly shared sentiment is the desire to tell the world. Thanks to the willingness of survivors to speak, despite the considerable emotional difficulty of doing so, hundreds of scholars, archivists, and volunteers have been able to study and learn from their experiences. Nevertheless, the sheer number of available testimonies, as well as the lack of transcripts and appropriate search tools, have remained a significant barrier to understanding the Holocaust from the perspective of the survivor. The overall goal of Let Them Speak is to make victims’ perspectives investigable and tangible for future generations.
Unprecedented Archival Access
In 2018, under the initiative of the Yale Library’s Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, three leading institutions responsible for large collections of Holocaust testimonies agreed to make a portion of their materials available as transcripts, along with a subset of video recordings, in Let Them Speak. The Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies (FVAHT) gave access to 180 transcripts and videos recorded as part of the Holocaust Survivor Film Project in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) contributed 1,500 interviews recorded between the 1970s and the late 1990s. The Visual Archive of the Shoah Foundation at the University of Southern California (USC VA) gave 1,000 interview transcripts recorded in the 1990s.
With funding from the Fortunoff Video Archive, Let Them Speak was edited and built by Gabor M. Toth in collaboration with the Yale Digital Humanities Laboratory and in consultation with FVAHT, USC VA, and USHMM. The edition brings together for the first time nearly 3,000 testimonies from these three collections, allowing for unprecedented forms of access, search, and analysis of these survivors’ experiences.
The site is currently in development. For more information, please contact Fortunoff’s Director, Stephen Naron.