Holocaust survivors’ stories rediscovered

The movie Soul Witness is based on over 80 hours of Holocaust video testimony, conducted approximately 30 years ago in Brookline. Interviews ranged from 45 minutes to 7 hours. The goal of the effort was to memorialize the Holocaust through video testimony interviews. See full story here. See also the links for more information – a radio interview, and the website The Story of Soul Witness.

Computer history

Gary Starkweather, who defied his corporate boss to invent the laser printer, a revolutionary development that made it possible to print images and text directly from computer terminals in homes and offices, died Dec. 26 at a hospital in Orlando. He was 81. Read full story here.

Starkweather did an oral history for the Computer History Museum in California. Search for “oral history” to watch videos of their collection.

Generation Gulag

“It was our first interview shoot for Coda Story’s Generation Gulag series and we were running late. Irina Verblovskaya, 86, was expecting us but our film crew couldn’t find her tiny green cottage hidden in a forest about half an hour outside St. Petersburg. Our minivan cruised down narrow roads until we got out and walked through the birch forest, stopping at almost identical cottage homes to ask for directions. When we finally pulled up to the right one, Irina made it clear how very late we were: “Why are you here?” she asked, raising her hands up and she walked towards us across the lawn. “What are you doing here now? Where were you 10 years ago?” Were we too late? This was our first question at Coda when we began thinking about tracking down the remaining Gulag survivors. Why were we doing this now?” Read full story here and click on the word “here” below each photograph in the story for a link to a video interview with the photograph subject.

Oral history in PNG

“In 2006, University of Virginia anthropologist Lise Dobrin received a document attached to an email from a man she knew in Papua New Guinea, where she had conducted fieldwork for her dissertation several years earlier. The document told the story of the history of the man’s village. He wrote that he was afraid if he didn’t write it, no one else would.” Read full story here.

Interviewing after natural disasters

Sometime after 10 p.m. on August 27, 2018, Judy and Richard Mixter were keeping an eye on a late summer storm that just wouldn’t let up.  The Coon Valley couple noticed some flooding in their backyard. Richard heard some water seeping into their finished basement, so he went downstairs and did what he could to keep things dry.  The Mixter’s story is part of an oral history project in southwestern Wisconsin called “Stories from the Flood,” an innovative approach to trauma spearheaded by the Driftless Writing Center of Viroqua. “From the beginning we wanted to help people heal and move forward. I think that has happened, it has happened individually and in a group setting,” said Tamera Dean, the director of “Stories from the Flood.”

Here in Australia we are no strangers to natural disasters – floods, drought, bush-fires. This story is about a community’s response to a natural disaster here. Perhaps we can learn from it.

Oral History Award (USA)

Author Doug Stanton has won the Stephen E. Ambrose Oral History Award for his contribution to the practice and research application of oral history used in his published works on America’s military and wartime experiences from World War II to the War in Afghanistan. Stanton, who lives in Traverse City, has authored three books: “In Harm’s Way,” “Horse Soldiers” (made into the movie “12 Strong”) and “The Odyssey of Echo Company.” Read full story here.

Italian Holocaust Survivor Dies

“Piero Terracina was 15 years old in 1944 when two SS soldiers entered the home in Rome where he and his parents, his grandfather, his two brothers and sister and an uncle had gathered to celebrate Passover. They were deported to Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland, where only Mr. Terracina emerged alive. After maintaining a long silence about his experience in the camp — an existence that he compared to a double life, as he went about his normal activities by day and endured nightmares of Auschwitz by night — Mr. Terracina found purpose and meaning as one of Italy’s most prominent witnesses to the Holocaust.” Read full story, including links to oral history here.

Human cleanliness

“Why are there so many kinds of body wash? It’s simple. Thanks to corporate marketing campaigns, indoor plumbing and washing machines we are a spiffy-clean bunch who apparently demand shopping-carts-full of passion fruit and lavender-scented liquid soap. But why?” This is a book inspired by an oral history the author did with his father about how often he bathed. Read full story here.

Changing India/Pakistan narrative

“India and Pakistan still define themselves in opposition to each other, claiming to be everything the other is not – more pious, righteous, secular, progressive than those across the border. Patriotism is more often than not based on hostility towards the other,” stresses Pakistani author Anam Zakaria, whose third book ‘1971’ (Penguin) will be released in India soon. See full article here.