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Hear the stories of the Holocaust survivors who came to Wisconsin
Six million European Jews were systematically murdered by the Nazis and their allies during the 1930s and 1940s. This persecution of Jews is known as the Holocaust. As Nazi tyranny spread, millions of other people were also killed by the Third Reich. About 140,000 Holocaust survivors came to the U.S. More than 1,000 eventually settled in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Historical Society archivists interviewed 22 Holocaust survivors and two American witnesses between 1974 and 1981.
The interviews discuss their pre-war circumstances, war-time experiences, post-war resettlement, and subsequent events in their lives. These experiences include deportation to labor and concentration camps, hiding "underground" in Holland and Germany, internment in Italy, slave-labor in Russia, escape to Shanghai, China, and other war-time events. Discussion of their post-war experiences concerns years in displaced persons camps, internment on Cyprus, temporary residences in Sweden, England, and Israel, and resettlement in the United States. Also included are two interviews with U.S. citizens who worked with displaced persons after the war.
How to Use this Collection
To locate an interview, use Search above to search the descriptions and transcripts of all Interviews or click the "See media in this collection" button in the upper right to browse the interviews. Each Interview includes a) full audio interview; b) biography and other information; c) searchable transcript; d) images in the Supplemental Files tab.
Visit the Education Materials for Remembering the Holocaust page on the Society's website.
We have not censored or suppressed any survivor's recollections. Many interviews contain passages with vivid eyewitness descriptions of horrifying cruelty, which may not be suitable for younger readers and listeners.
Teachers and parents should understand that recollections of life in ghettoes and concentration camps could shock and frighten children who have never before imagined such brutality. Hearing these anecdotes through the actual voice of the person who survived them can be very distressing, especially when the speaker becomes audibly upset.
If an oral history contains highly sensitive passages, we have noted it in the interview summary. It's possible that oral histories without a notice contain distressing information for some listeners.
Educators of older students may find interviews with sensitive content to be particularly effective teaching tools. Most speakers were teenagers when they lived through these terrible events. Teachers of younger students should personally review audio and transcript passages before introducing them to children
This digital collection was created through the generous financial support of the Helen Bader Foundation of Milwaukee and private donors.