Wednesday, September 23, 2020

My Grandmother's Holocaust Testimony - Via JewishGen

When I was in college, my grandmother was interviewed by Steven Spielberg's project (hosted by the USC Shoah Foundation) talking about her life and Holocaust experiences.  She got copies of the 11 VHS tapes that her story filled, and I summarized her life based on that testimony here.  And now I can easily find her testimony--and others who were related or lived in the same towns, and learn about their experiences via JewishGen.

Snippet from JewishGen's Summary of Sonia Diamond's Shoah Foundation Interview

Not only are other names mentioned in her testimony summarized (and searchable), but there is actually a link to her original testimony--in much better quality than on the VHS tapes that we have.

My Grandmother's Interview


I knew about this testimony and had seen it several times.  But there's more power to this data set.  I searched for some of my family's surnames and found testimony from cousins who I didn't know had been interviewed.  Some of these interviews are in English or Hebrew, so I'm able to watch them.  But Some are in other languages (I found relatives' interviews in Yiddish, Hungarian, and Czech) that I don't understand.  But the basic relationships of these people, as well as a bit about their experiences, are indexed here in English.

JewishGen's Summary of Eliezer Rotner's Testimony

Via JewishGen, I discovered that my fourth cousin twice removed, Eliezer Rutner, gave testimony in Hebrew.  As you can see above, even if you don't understand the Hebrew used in his testimony, you see the family members he mentioned, when and where they were born, and where they died.  There is additional information about Eliezer's experiences indexed as well.

To do your own search, go to JewishGen's Holocaust Database (you'll need a free JewishGen account to see results) and search for names &/or towns of interest.  You'll see a long list of resources (all worth looking through), and these testimonies can be seen by clicking the button to the right of "USC Shoah Foundation - Survivor Interviews" which will hopefully give you results.

Even if you don't find anyone from your family, view some of these testimonies, and remember.  Here is my grandmother's interview if you have time; it is long!

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  1. This is an invaluable resource! I knew about my cousin Charlotte's testimony, and have a copy of the DVD - but only through the links did I find the list of people that she mentioned with more data on them. I didn't follow through to see if these people also were interviewed, or as you suggested if other people were interviewed from my family's town. Will do now! Thanks for the suggestion -

  2. Totally beautiful vide. She was very wise .. like you... love listening to her talk. My father-in-law also made a video as did a few members of the family. Thank you for sharing this it's a treasure. May you have good sweet Year..

  3. Lara, I listened to all of your grandmother's heart-rending testimony. Thanks for sharing it. And thanks for your blog posts. Always learn something new from you.