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Yearbook on Early Testimonies of Survivors

The second scholarly yearbook of the ITS in Bad Arolsen deals with early postwar testimonies of survivors of Nazi persecution and the Holocaust. "The testimonies in the form of letters, articles, diaries or statements show that survivors were clearly not silent after their liberation and began dealing with the torments they had suffered early on," said Dr Susanne Urban, head of research and education at the ITS.

A collection of about 1,100 questionnaires, which had been filled out by survivors at the beginning of the 1950s, is one example of the testimonies in the ITS archive. In one of them, Helena Rosenbaum wrote about the Auschwitz concentration camp: "No unusual occurrences during my stay. Every day the same tortures and incinerations." Other recollections can be found in surveys the Allies carried out during the liberation of the concentration camps or in the registration of Displaced Persons. There are also witness statements in the form of essays and letters that were written by survivors immediately following the end of the Second World War. "The sources are interesting, unique and multifaceted, and offer researchers scope for a number of diverse approaches," Urban pointed out. "We also see the yearbook as an incentive to engage more deeply with the subject matter."

Professor Sascha Feuchert, director of the Arbeitsstelle Holocaustliteratur at the University of Gießen, considers dealing with these early testimonies vital since many documents from the immediate postwar period "have vanished from cultural memory. The accounts were met with resistance in Germany at that time; they fell victim to the first debates about drawing a line with the Nazi past, and it is time to rediscover and re-examine these texts. The ITS yearbook represents a milestone in that direction."

Apart from early testimonies, the yearbook also investigates questions of how the memory of Nazi persecution has changed over the decades, and how dealing with the repercussions has impacted the children and grandchildren. Nava Semel from Israel, for example, describes how "an entire generation of Israelis has grown up with the tacit agreement: 'You don't ask, and I won't answer'. We had to protect our parents from the wounds of a traumatic memory." It was everyone's duty to deal responsibly with the past and "it is not so much about if, but rather about how we remember. It is important that we don't let the chain of memories break off."

The yearbook "Freilegungen: Überlebende – Erinnerungen – Transformationen" [Uncovered: Survivors - Memories - Transformations] has been published by Wallstein Verlag in Göttingen. With the yearbook series, which commenced in 2012, the ITS aims to contribute to the scholarly and interdisciplinary discourse on Nazi persecution. It also demonstrates the continuing development of the ITS into a centre of documentation, information and research.

Series Title: Yearbook of the International Tracing Service
Freilegungen: Überlebende – Erinnerungen – Transformationen [Uncovered: Survivors - Memories - Transformations]
Volume No. 2
Editors: Professor Rebecca Boehling, director of the ITS since January 2013, Dr. Susanne Urban, head of research and education at the ITS since 2009, René Bienert, M.A., assistant head of research and education at the ITS since 2012.
With contributions by Sascha Feuchert, Laura Jockusch, Natan P. Kellerman, Nava Semel, Eldad Stobezki and others.
ca. 400 pages with 25 illustrations,
ca. € 29,90 (Germany) incl. VAT plus postage
Available from June 2013
Format: Softcover
Dimensions: 14.5 x 22.0 cm
ISBN: 978-3-8353-1213-5
For orders contact Wallstein-Verlag Göttingen