WORLD WAR II & HOLOCAUST

VETERAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT


1,200 VIDEOS |  11,700 EPHEMERA |  100% DIGITIZED  |  25% CATALOGED

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DESCRIPTION

This collection is comprised of nearly 1,200 unique video interviews with Russian Jewish soldiers who fought in the Soviet armed forces and partisan detachments during World War II, and thousands of photographs, letters, and documents from the personal archives of the veterans, in some instances dating back to the late 19th century. Approximately 14% of all interviewees are women. Several second-generation interviews were recorded, though the vast majority of the testimonies are from the veterans themselves. While testimony focus is on the period of the Great Patriotic War, 1941–1945, the veterans also speak about their childhood, family, education, career, homecoming after the war, and immigration. Descriptions of wartime experiences include information about military forces, battles, daily life, and the emotional experience of the war. 

Over 1,500 hours of interview video were mostly recorded in NTSC Mini DVs and digitized into uncompressed master files in .mov format. The interviews and documents are mostly in Russian, with some documents in Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Polish, and Yiddish.  

DATES

2006 – ongoing

CATALOGING NOTES

Russian transcripts of interviews and documents have been completed; English translation and subject and geography metadata have been applied to approximately 200 interviews.

PROVENANCE

Recognizing that the role of Russian Jewish soldiers had not received sufficient attention, in 2006 the Blavatnik Archive launched a long-term project to digitally record personal testimonies of Jewish soldiers who fought in the Soviet Red Army during World War II. The interviews were conducted in eleven countries mostly between 2006 and 2014; the video recordings are supplemented by thousands of photographs, documents, letters, and diary pages. These physical artifacts were brought by the veterans to the interviews and digitized on-site, following production quality standards. In some instances, the originals were donated to the Archive. 

The geographical span of the interviews reflects both the origins of the Soviet Jewish veteran population and the community’s current places of residence around the world. In addition, the project sought to capture and reflect geography-based nuances that might influence veteran experience and recollection. The Archive reached out directly to local veteran associations within target interview locations, which were then responsible for selecting veteran members for interviews. Most of the interviews were conducted in Russian. Prior to the interviews, the interviewees were asked to complete biographical questionnaires and sign release forms.  

While interviews with veterans have mostly ceased, the Archive continues to collect stories and material artifacts from the veterans’ family members.

GEOGRAPHY

Belarus, Canada, Estonia, Germany, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, United States