The Audiovisual Supplement of Holocaust Survivor Video Testimony
It is a rare event to confront a problem or question that seizes one in thought and launches the curious philosophical adventure of articulating and clarifying concepts adequate to one’s query.1 The following is intended as a preliminary report on such an adventure; its concern is the question of the substance of the audiovisual supplement with regard to the testamentary record of what is known in the English-speaking world as “the Holocaust”2—the Nazi genocide of European Jewry. Since the early 1980s, there has been a series of projects initiated by universities, museums, and private foundations to produce and archive video recordings of in-depth interviews with Jews and others3 who had been subjected to the genocidal policies of the Nazi regime. This has resulted in archives of recordings in Canada, the United States, Israel, England, France, Belgium, and Italy. For more than two decades, the task of those responsible for these archives has been to complete the recording of testimony as fast as possible given the advancing age of survivors. As this task nears completion, attention is now being turned to the question of significance of this video documentation. In part, this means enquiring into the ways these audiovisual recordings might be productively studied and drawn upon for the contemporary public engagement with history. Given the extensive recognition the Holocaust has received in North America over the last three decades and, correspondingly, the increasing availability of historical studies, memoirs, photographs, museum exhibitions, films and video that pertain to this event, it is important to consider what it is that audiovisual testimonies might additionally contribute to the substance of our historical consciousness?
KeywordsVideo Clip Photographic Image Historical Memory Nazi Regime Historical Consciousness
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