When Hurricane Sandy came ashore, it fell to the city’s leaders and the thousands of workers at their command to secure our coasts, to rescue those trapped by water and without power, to help the city rebuild. The Observer spent Monday and Tuesday talking with New York’s top public officials about Hurricane Sandy. These are their experiences in their own words. For full story click here.
When friends gather over a meal at Carleton-Willard Village, telling “war stories” isn’t just a figure of speech. A look around the table reflects a range of roles during World War II. One repaired battleships. Another flew for the Royal Air Force. Here sits a former Red Cross nurse; there a younger sister who saw her elder brother for the last time as he departed in uniform. The residents of this Bedford continuing care community, now in their 80s and 90s, were young men and women in the days of the war — yet memories of their experiences are as sharp as they were seven decades ago. For full story, including video links, click here.
Czech and Slovak Americans remember food shortages, forced labor and the horrors of concentration camps as part of their homeland experience during World War II. Oral histories recorded as a project for the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library will shine a spotlight on that history during a special Veteran’s Day event from 2 to 4 p.m. on Nov. 11. Since 2009, the museum’s oral history project has captured the stories of Czechs and Slovaks who fled their homeland during the Cold War. Now, they’re going back further into history and turning their focus to World War II. For full story click here.
The oral history collection started in the 1990s when local writer and World War II Wilmington Home Front Heritage Coalition chairman Wilbur Jones approached the library to suggest preserving oral histories of veterans, Parnell says. The local Veterans of Foreign Wars arranged for interview subjects, while the library arranged for staff and students to record the interviews and provided space, a camera, VHS tapes, transcripts and a website. I know how important it is to record the history of these men and women before they die, Jones says. For full story click here.
In March 2012, there was a discussion on the public folklorists’ listserv Publore about the evolution of oral history as a defined discipline and folklorists’ contribution to its development. As an observer and participant in both fields, I see overlap today. The leaderships of both national associations — the Oral History Association (OHA) and the American Folklore Society (AFS) — frequently collaborate on large-scale projects, like the current IMLS-funded project looking at oral history in the digital age. Their annual meetings regularly take place back-to-back. I often joke with colleagues when they ask me about the difference between the two conferences by suggesting that at OHA you might have a librarian or a rocket scientist who practices oral history, and at AFS you would have a folklorist working as a librarian or a rocket scientist. For full story with lots of interesting links, click here.
Shlomo Venezia was one of the first Jews to climb out of the freight car when it came to the end of the line at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland on April 11, 1944, his mother crammed behind him. For nearly 50 years he remained haunted and virtually silent about his role in the horror. ''Not because I didn't want to talk,'' he said, ''but because people didn't want to listen, didn't want to believe it.'' That changed in the early 1990s, when right-wing extremism reared again in Italy and, Venezia said, "swastikas began to appear on walls''. He began to speak at conferences, to reporters, to schoolchildren – and most notably to Beatrice Prasquier, a journalist with whom, in 2007, he published Inside the Gas Chambers: Eight Months in the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz. The book offers a harrowingly matter-of-fact account in which he describes loading corpses into the ovens 12 hours a day, seven days a week. For full story click here.