New volume on Videotaped Testimonies of Victims of National Socialism edited by _erinnern.at_: “Interactions. Explorations of Good Practice in Educational Work with Videotaped Testimonies of Victims of National Socialism”, is now available for download.

The edited volume is the fourth volume in the series "Education with Testimonies" published by the EVZ Foundation. Practitioners, experts, archivists, scholars and curators from 14 countries contributed to the book that was presented in Berlin on 9 April 2018.

According to estimates, there are over 100,000 video testimonies with victims of National Socialism. Many of the interview archives are easily accessed, including some that are available on the Internet for free. While teachers are hesitant in making use of these source materials, learners are familiar with the figure of the eye-witness as communicated via film and television. But what can be taught with the help of what in cinematographic terms is often criticized as "talking heads"? What constitutes a good learning setting? And how do users interact with the - usually digitized - video testimonies and  collections that are often available online?


In January 2017 experienced educators and researchers attended an international workshop on "Localisation of video testimonies with victims of National Socialism in educational programmes" and discussed what constitutes good practice in this specific form of educational work. This volume is the result of these discussions and provides an insight into the conceptual and practical ideas on which the various programs are based. The book also has a focus on video testimonies presented at historical exhibitions and includes contributions from many countries, such as Belarus, Canada, Israel, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Netherlands and South Africa.


The complete volume is available for download: - download

The print version can be ordered in any book store or online, for example on Amazon.

All articles can be downloaded individually below.




Günter Saathoff: Preface



Werner Dreier, Angelika Laumer, Moritz Wein: Introduction



Capter 1 - Developing Testimony Collections


Stephen Naron: Archives, Ethics and Influence: How the Fortunoff Video Archive‘s Methodology  Shapes its Collection‘s Content

The Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies has been recording the testimonies of survivors, witnesses and bystanders of the Holocaust since 1979. It currently holds more than 4,400 testimonies, comprising over 10,000 recorded hours of videotape. This paper will discuss the Fortunoff Archive’s history, “best practices”, and foundational principles, as well as present the challenges and promises of a new period in which technology has enhanced the possibility of providing access to and using this now digital collection.



Albert Lichtblau: Moving From Oral to Audiovisual History. Notes on Praxis.

Oral History is related to a paradigm shift within historiography. Historians go into the field and create their own sources. Motivations have to be reflected as well as methodological implications or intentions. Digital media made it possible to film interviews which forced Oral Historians to discuss how visual information changes their approaches and methods. Oral Historians had to learn to listen and see. New forms of observations and interactions widened were introduced. The article explains the importance of quality standards for videotaping testimonies and provides useful information on the practicalities of interviewing and recording the interviews.



Sylvia Degen: Translating Audiovisual Survivor Testimonies for Education: From Lost in Translation to Gained in Translation

Survivors’ audio-visual testimonies have become increasingly important in educational programs on the history of National Socialism. Given the speakers’ language diversity, the usage of translated material is common, leading to the translation being a critical factor in the success of this transmission. However, creating high quality translations that support the educational goals of the contracting institutions is a complex endeavour – and its success is determined in large part by the working environment. This article discusses some aspects of the practical context in which the translation of audio-visual testimonies for educational purposes takes place. It is based on a study focussing on twenty-four interviews with a selection of different actors who participated in the translation processes at three major audio-visual archives in Germany – from translators to project directors. The results of this study provide a comprehensive insight into the investigated translation processes and a stable basis for their evaluation. Furthermore, they point to practicable improvement suggestions, which will be discussed in the second part of this contribution. In summary, the lesson to be learned is not simply about the need for funding for expensive, high quality translations. On the contrary, I would like to propose the optimisation of organisational processes and the establishment of clearer quality criteria for translations as an integral part of future projects – and that does not necessarily have to be more expensive. However, these measures require a better understanding of translation – often made invisible in the process – and the services professional  translators can offer. The aim of this article is to counter the widespread understanding of translation as merely “the same words just in a different language” and to raise awareness of the opportunities translation can provide for the current educational environment.



Éva Kovács: Testimonies in the Digital Age – New Challenges in Research, Academia and Archives

For many years after the Shoah, there was little analysis of survivors’ testimonies in historical writing, and if testimonies appeared at all it was only as illustrations of personal experiences in the historians’ “grand narrative”. However, in the past 20 years, as digital oral history archives have been set up and opened, these testimonies have become sources of mainstream historical analysis. Moreover, memory cultures have changed crucially since 1990. The first part of the paper looks at the most relevant change, the emergence of trauma (cultural, social and historical) in public history, partly rooted in the experiences and memory of the Shoah and the digital “turn” in the archives of the testimony collections. The second part explores new techniques for using personal accounts, including the intuitive analysis of testimonies and qualitative approaches. Finally, I touch on the “post-testimony” age, and how the third generation deals with the legacy left by former survivors. I chose the case of the film Son of Saul, in which, in my view, testimonies and personal accounts have found their new voice in the age of post-testimony.



Chapter 2 - Testimonies in Museums and Memorial Sites


Kinga Frojimovics, Éva  Kovács: Tracing Jewish Forced Labour in the Kaiserstadt – A Tainted Tour of Vienna

The special urban nature of the Holocaust experiences of Jewish forced labourers deported from Hungary to Vienna in the summer of 1944 (use of public transport, work in industrial areas, visiting hospitals, etc.) combined with their images and knowledge of Viennese culture and history figure prominently in the survivors’ testimonies. Moreover, on a number of occasions, these urban features determine the primary reception of the testimonies by the interviewer, which, in turn, further influences the interviews themselves. It is also very interesting how the new project of The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (Austria) entitled Ungarische Zwangsarbeit in Wien, which is built mainly on these oral history sources, influences (or aims to influence) the recent images of Vienna. The overlap and (accidental, intentional and/or historical and cultural) juxtapositions between Vienna as the imperial “Kaiserstadt” and the locus of the Holocaust experiences of Jewish forced labourers deported from Hungary act as an especially potent way to create and emphasise complex Viennese narrative identities. In the paper we are offering an unusual “sightseeing tour” of Vienna, in which we wish to show the most emblematic tourist sites as the Prater, Schönbrunn, the Opera, and the Wienerwald from a Holocaust perspective. Our primary focus is the period of 1944–45, when thousands of Hungarian slave workers lived and worked all over the city.



Annemiek Gringold: Voices in the Museum. Videotaped Testimonies as Objects of Cultural and Historical Heritage in the Jewish Cultural Quarter Amsterdam

The article explores the uses and relevance of videotaped testimonies and interviews in the Hollandsche Schouwburg and the National Holocaust Museum (currently under development) in the Jewish Cultural Quarter (JCQ) in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The Hollandsche Schouwburg (Dutch Theatre) served as “Umschlagplatz” (a collection point where Jews were detained before deportation) between 1942 and 1943. Bearing witness was and is important for some Holocaust survivors, to pass on the legacy and memory of those who were killed. Today, videotaped interviews are pivotal sources for the JCQ. Selected interview clips are used as preparatory lessons for school groups; testimonies are also used in museum exhibitions and other displays around the JCQ, and for historical research; but “new” video recordings are also still being made, centred around survivors, but including museum visitors and audiences. Since the opening of the National Holocaust Museum (NHM) in 2016, staff have hosted live interviews with survivors on a regular basis. These interviews and the interaction with the audiences is recorded and added to the collection. The JHM also experiments with recording memories, stories and anecdotes of museum visitors during specially organised events. These recordings are not included in the museum’s collection.



Madene Shachar, Michal Sadan: Educational Programmes Based on Child Survivor Video Testimonies at Yad LaYeled Children's Memorial Museum/ Ghetto Fighters' House Israel

The article explores the uses of video testimonies of Holocaust child survivors in permanent and various rotating exhibitions at Yad La Yeled and presents the museum staff's re-evaluations and ongoing reflections regarding the use of videotaped testimonies for young learners. Yad LaYeled developed an assessment based method for choosing the most appropriate videos (see appendix 1 and appendix 2). The article also shows Yad LaYeled's concept of simulacrum installations in its exhibitions and its educational work with plays. The museum is dedicated to creating a collective memory of the Holocaust through its exhibitions, architecture and educational programmes. Its educational philosophy is based on constructivist educational theory and performative strategies and focuses on the young learner and his/her needs and abilities.



Anika Reichwald: Video Testimonies and their Use in the Jewish Museum Hohenems

Videotaped testimonies of Holocaust survivors are seldom displayed in European Jewish museums. This paper aims to question why. It will discuss the purpose of Jewish museums in Europe and the purpose of displaying video testimonies of Holocaust survivors in permanent exhibitions. It will also look at the technical and content advantages and disadvantages of having video interviews in permanent exhibits. The use of video testimonies in the permanent exhibition of the Jewish Museum Hohenems, in Austria, is referenced to outline general ideas and thoughts on this topic. In a third section, this paper sums up other uses of video testimony at the Jewish Museum Hohenems, such as a concept for a temporary exhibit focused on video testimonies; multi-media terminals with additional video material; and the use of video material for specific educational programmes.



Chapter 3 - Testimonies in Education

Exploring the Uses of Video Testimonies


Susan Hogervorst: Distanced by the Screen. Student History Teachers and Video Archives of Second World War Interviews in the Netherlands

This article discusses the role of live and videotaped testimonies in history education in the Netherlands. It focuses on the use of an online interview portal called (Witness stories), which offers about 500 interviews on topics related to the Second World War. There are currently no educational projects being developed around this portal, but teachers and students are the implicit target audiences. Use of the website was studied through web statistics, a web questionnaire, and a focus group interview with student history teachers. This exploratory focus group interview indicated both continuity and change regarding the (intended) use of video testimonies or live guest lectures. Both were regarded as illustrations of the regular curriculum and textbooks. However, seeing a witness on screen rather than in person allowed students to be more critical about that witness as a historical source.



Irmgard Bibermann: The International Research Project Shoah in Daily School Life. How do Pupils Use Videotaped Eyewitness Interviews with Survivors in a Tablet Application?

The question of the right teaching setting for work with videotaped testimonies to ensure that learners obtain maximum benefit for the development of historical competencies has been the subject of theoretical reflection but of little empirical research. For that reason, _erinnern.at_ organised the international research project Shoah in daily school life. A teaching unit was developed based on three video interviews with eyewitnesses for use on tablets. The material (questionnaires, pupil assignments in response to the video interviews, tracking data) offers interesting insights into history teaching and learning processes. The author analyses the data collected on the basis of the central questions of research: What can be inferred about the pupils’ history learning processes? How do pupils assess their learning processes and results? Was it a good history lesson from the pupils’ point of view? How do pupils make use of videotaped testimonies?



Ilene R. Berson, Michael J. Berson: Tattered Dolls and Teddy Bears Tell Tales of Hope and Perseverance: Developing a Pedagogic Paradigm for Teachers’ Use of Holocaust Testimony to Engage Young Students in Exploring Social Injustices.

This article provides a starting point for exploring digital testimony as intriguing remnants of history that can support young students’ active learning and intellectual curiosity. The focus of our research is on how the personal stories of Holocaust survivors captured in video testimony may assist effective implementation of Holocaust education in early learning and elementary school contexts. We have examined pedagogical paradigms for Holocaust education in the early years and considered the complexities involved in selecting digital testimony from Holocaust survivors for use in early childhood and elementary settings. The intended outcome of this work is to identify strategies to build connections to children’s lives today and establish a foundation for a spiraling curriculum, in which young children become familiar with the personal stories of individuals in the Holocaust and get acquainted with the historical terms and context. This project builds upon our earlier pilot research in US public elementary schools, which explored how Holocaust survivors’ digital testimonies may promote participatory and student-driven learning. In the early years, the focus is on establishing a foundation for historical inquiry through scaffolded analysis of video testimonies. We describe a few examples to help illustrate the use of Holocaust testimony in teaching young children as well as pedagogic applications.



Maria Ecker Angerer: “What exactly makes a good interview?“. Educational Work with Videotaped Testimonies at _erinnern.at_

The article is an attempt to find answers to the frequently asked question of what constitutes a good interview. First, a number of didactic principles on which _erinnern.at_ bases its work on projects with videotaped testimonials are introduced and illustrated with practical examples from educational materials and practical reports, namely active involvement with what is shown, tuning in to the source, describing one’s own reactions, taking responsibility for one’s own learning process, presenting the source as faithfully as possible and analysing with empathy. On that basis, four answers to the initial question are presented and discussed.



James Griffiths, Louise Stafford: Context is key. A study on primary-aged children's learning with testimonies of Holocaust survivors

This paper shares the findings from the latest research undertaken by the National Holocaust Centre and Museum (NHCM) which sought to understand more fully the value to be afforded to videotaped testimony, as opposed to other educational interventions, i.e. the educator, the exhibition and first-hand survivor testimony, in helping primary-aged children learn about difference and developing their knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust. The Learning Programme, Our Lonely Journey, consisted of two workshops, delivered in school and which sandwiched a visit to The Journey exhibition at NHCM. The research findings overwhelmingly refer to the importance placed by pupils on listening to the testimony of a survivor in person and the ability to engage with their story. However the research also found that pupils place a different emphasis on the other interventions depending on whether or not they are referring to learning about difference or learning about the Holocaust. When learning about difference the students placed the emphasis on the role of the educator compared to videotaped testimonies when learning about the Holocaust.



Multifarious Practices in Education with Video Testimonies


Arlene Sher: Combatting Afrophobia and Teaching about Moral Choices. Using testimonies in educational programmes about the Holocaust and genocide in the South African context

In examining how the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre (JHGC) uses testimonies to teach about the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda, I look at the use of a specific film, entitled Testimony. This recounts the testimonies of five Holocaust survivors who settled in Cape Town. It is distributed to educators required to teach about the Holocaust as part of the South African national curriculum. Twenty-two additional video testimonies of survivors from both the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda were specifically produced for the JHGC.

These are used to teach about particular South African issues, such as dealing with Afrophobia and helping students discuss South Africa’s own difficult past. They form an integral part of the centre’s teaching about moral choices – namely the choice of being perpetrators, bystanders or "upstanders".



Dorothee Wein: Voices of Survivors at Sites of Perpetrators. Educational Approaches to Using Video Testimonies at the Topography of Terror Documentation Center, Berlin

The Topography of Terror documentation center in Berlin, on the site of the former headquarters of the Gestapo, the SS High Command and the Reich Security Main Office, organises a series of seminars entitled “Voices of Survivors at Sites of Perpetrators”, using photographs shown in the permanent exhibition and contrasting them with the video testimonies of survivors. The essay looks at the variety of educational approaches used at this perpetrators’ site as being representative of the different forms of historical learning possible using testimony as a crucial source. It explores how the different approaches tend to overlap in the video interviews, and concludes that it takes time and appropriate settings to process their wealth of content. The video testimonies open doors to the past; they raise uestions about the aftermath in the narrators’ lives, but they also call for the viewer’s responses.



Tony Cole, Darius Jackson: “I wonder where I will be tomorrow”. Using filmed testimony to develop historical knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust with Primary School children and Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN)

In January 2015 the British prime minister’s commission on Holocaust education (Cabinet Office 2015) identified the need to film and record the memories of Holocaust survivors living in Britain. As a result, a large programme of interviewing and filming Holocaust survivors was established. However, there is a tension in the Holocaust Commission’s report between preserving the testimony and using it to construct historical knowledge. It is not enough to collect and conserve the testimony of the victims of National Socialism, this is curating. Historical knowledge is an interpretation of the past based on evidence, so it is essential that students use recorded testimony to help formulate their own understanding. Our paper explicitly relates to the school “environment” theme of the workshop. It shows how the recorded testimony of a victim of National Socialist persecution can be used to further pupils’ understanding of how historical knowledge is itself socially constructed. We explore how students use the testimony of Miriam Kleinman, a collection of her personal objects and contextual knowledge to develop a detailed understanding of her experiences as a refugee and her family life in pre-war Belgium. Students place this life within a wider European context and become aware that there are contradictions and ambiguities in people's memories and that this is "part and parcel" of doing real history.



Birte Hewera: Survivors as Subjects of Documentation. The Witnesses and Education Film Series by Yad Vashem and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The “end of testimony” has been discussed for decades now. But what does the concept of testimony imply in the context of the Shoah? What insights can be gleaned from the testimonies of survivors – especially for education on the history of the Shoah? And what are the differences between literary and digital testimonies? These questions are addressed in this paper with reference to the Witnesses and Education film series produced jointly by the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem and the Multimedia Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The series comprises 14 biographical films produced on the basis of Yad Vashem’s educational guidelines. In the films, the Jewish survivors of the Shoah are accompanied on a journey that takes them to the places of their childhood and to the scenes of the crimes where they speak about their experiences and sufferings. The protagonists are cast as the subjects, not the objects of documentation. The way in which they present and interpret the historical events is their choice; it is their voices we hear and their faces we see. The audience is thus confronted by protagonists as complex, autonomous individuals, who had to act and take decisions under terrible conditions, and they see that actions and decisions taken by other people (help, betrayal, passivity) played a major role in determining the course of events. History is seen as the result of human action, which makes it possible and logical to establish links with the present in an educational setting.



Carson Phillips: “The Limits of My Language are the Limits of My World”: Using Recorded Testimonies of Holocaust Survivors with English Language Learners

The recorded testimonies of Holocaust survivors can be effective used by educators as a pedagogical tool for adult English Language Learners. Combined with specific teaching strategies for language acquisition and retention, recorded testimonies help to build vocabulary, enhance an understanding of the Holocaust, and provide learners with concrete examples of individuals who immigrated to a new country and acquired the necessary linguistic and cultural skills to effectively integrate into a new host society. Through these shared experiences of immigration and integration, the recorded testimonies of Holocaust survivors offer a new entry point to learn about the Holocaust. In the first section, the author describes the pedagogical strategies underpinning this approach, moving into concrete examples drawn from the practical application of the methodology. The final section contextualises the Canadian society that many survivors of the Holocaust encountered in the immediate post-war period. Using archival images to illustrate some of the issues present in Canadian civil society of the era, the author demonstrates how the multicultural and diverse characteristic of Canada, and Toronto in particular, evolved over time. Throughout, the immigration and egrationeriences of Holocaust survivors serves as a model for futur generations of newcomers to Canada.



Kori Street, Andrea Szönyi: Videotaped Testimonies of Victims of National Socialism in Educational Programs: The Example of USC Shoah Foundation's Online Platform IWitness

This paper explores how testimony-based education is delivered across several geographical locations through the USC Shoah Foundation – the Institute for Visual History and Education’s (referred to as the Institute) educational platform IWitness. It references the most recent evaluation of the Skittles, Deplorables, and All Lives Matter program to demonstrate the potential of testimony-based education. It also shows the opportunities presented by IWalks – a learning experience that blends testimony with an interrogation of historical spaces in contemporary time. The Institute follows constructivist learning theory and is guided by the Theory of Change, which says that if individuals such as students and teachers engage with testimony they will experience attitudinal and behavioral changes that will make them more likely to contribute to civil society. The Institute defines contributing to civil society at minimum as making responsible choices – refusing to tolerate racist ideas or prejudicial treatment, and countering attitudes and acts of hatred.



Dorothee Wein, Šárka Jarská, Natalia Timofeeva: The Web Application Learning with Interviews. Forced Labor 1939–1945 for German, Czech and Russian schools. Common Ground and Country-Specific Differences

Funded by the Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (EVZ), partners in Germany, the Czech Republic and the Russian Federation (Freie Universität Berlin, Živá paměť, and the Regional Center for Oral History at the Voronezh Institute of High Technologies) developed digital learning platforms based on the videotaped testimonies of former forced labourers. The essay introduces the common structure, educational principles and country-specific differences of the website, which is devoted to using video testimonies for teaching in three countries with controversial histories. Taking into account the specific educational contexts in the three countries, shared strategies were found, in spite of differences in their cultures of remembrance. The paper sheds light on the specific approaches adopted and concludes with a summary of some useful educational guidelines.



Teon Djingo: Tracing Videotaped Testimonies of Victims of National Socialism for Educational Programmes. The Macedonian Case

The project Oral history interviews of the Former Yugoslavia Witnesses Documentation Project in Macedonia is part of the collection of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D C. As part of the project, I conducted 30 interviews with non-Jewish witnesses who saw or participated in the deportation of Jews from Macedonia in 1943. They gave us precious information regarding conditions in Macedonia during the Second World War and the anti-Jewish measures imposed by the Bulgarian and German authorities. Testimonies described ordinary life in the cities of Shtip, Bitola and Skopje between the wars, local stereotypes about the Jews in Macedonia, the arrival of the German and Bulgarian forces and the looting of Jewish property, but also information regarding conditions in the Monopol tobacco factory in Skopje, where Jews were held before they were deported to the Treblinka death camp. The interviews are used in primary and high schools in Macedonia during history classes dealing with the Holocaust and the deportation of the Jews. They are also often used in lectures and workshops at the Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia in Skopje.



Iryna Kashtalian: The Educational Use of Videoed Memoirs and Material on the History of the Minsk Ghetto and the Maly Trostenets Extermination Site

The article describes using videotaped interviews for educational purposes in Belarus to teach about  the Minsk ghetto and the Maly Trostenets extermination site. Official school history textbooks in Belarus pay little attention to the subject, or the Holocaust. The Leonid Levin Historical Workshop is trying to raise awareness and broaden knowledge of these events, gathering collected video testimonies into a dedicated electronic archive of witness memoirs and providing an alternative perspective on the history of the Second World War in Belarus. Educational activities involving such sources are used in three areas: an exhibition about Maly Trostenets, an oral history competition for students of various ages, and in special educational materials for schools.



Peter Gautschi: Videotaped Eyewitness Interviews with Victims of National Socialism for Use in Schools

The goal of this paper is to present a systematic overview of the use of videotaped eyewitness interviews with victims of National Socialism in the educational context on the basis of a five-stage analysis. First of all, the videotaped testimonies presented during the workshop are considered as a specific genre. Then a theoretical model is introduced on the basis of the didactic triangle to describe and localise the educational materials presented. In a third step, the article will look at how children, young people and adults learn about history with the help of videotaped eyewitness videos. In the fourth part, those aspects of the educational materials presented are identified that seem most promising. The objective is to define factors that have a positive influence on the use within the school system of videotaped eyewitness testimonies with victims of National Socialism and to analyse how historical learning can be triggered by the various education programmes presented in the "education" group at the workshop in Vienna.