Living Testimonies

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Living Testimonies
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Index in preparation; brief one or two page synopses in preparation
Interviews conducted since 1989, as part of an ongoing project. Founded in 1989, "Living Testimonies" is McGill University's Video Archive whose goal is the recording, on studio quality video tape, of eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust. This project grew out of the original Holocaust Documentation Project of video recordings made by the Canadian Jewish Congress in the early 1980s. Although the focus is on survivors, witness testimony by liberators and rescuers is also included in the collection. Interviewees are mostly Jews, but Gypsies (German Sinti) were also interviewed on location in the village of Joditz, near Hof in Germany. Though chronological in structure, the interviewing format is open-ended and free-flowing so as to assist the survivor (or rescuer) maximally in opening up. The emphasis is on securing the transmission from silence to documentation within the pinching restraints of time. Attention is given to evoking in images and words aspects of everyday life in a place and time long since gone (pre-World War II Europe) and to the interviewee's re-settlement in the new country (usually Canada), but the major attention is on the War years which constituted both the central event in the interviewee's life and, usually, the major gap (or rupture, break, fissure) in his/her life. Given that time may be fast running out for the survivors, each interview is seen as an important educational and historical resource that has the power to change minds and challenge the perpetuation of anti-semitism, racism and (most recently) Holocaust denial and historical revisionism. Most of the recordings are in English. The interviews with Sinti survivors were conducted in German. The quality of sound and images is generally first rate. All recordings were made in professional studios, except the Sinti tapes which were recorded by a professional in the field. NOTE: Video tapes (copies on 1/2 inch VHS format) may be viewed on the premises of "Living Testimonies" only, at 515 Pine Avenue West, suite 1, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, H2W 1S4, (514) 398-8408. Please call to make an appointment; expect to wait three to ten days. The 3/4 inch master tapes remain in the Library. Special permission may be obtained to use copies for educational purposes, e.g. in schools.
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