September 2011--Marquette University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections has released the digital collection, “I’ll Tell You a Story:" Memories of Pre-Holocaust Europe. The collection currently comprises 25 full-text transcripts from analog tape-recorded interviews seeking to document Jewish life and culture in the early 20th century.
The in-depth interviews were conducted in 1983 by a group of volunteers from The Generation After, an organization of children of Holocaust survivors. Professor Michael Phayer, a now-retired professor of German history from Marquette University, provided training and guidance for the project. The volunteers conducted 65 interviews in the Milwaukee metropolitan area. Additional interviews will be transcribed as financial support is secured.
“Although all subjects were survivors of the Nazi death camps, these 1983 interviews centered on the richness of Jewish life in Europe during the 1920s and 1930s,” according to Matt Blessing, archivist at Marquette University Libraries. Interviewers asked about family life, childrearing practices, religious traditions and holidays, social customs, education, anti-Semitism and the Zionist movement.
More than 1,000 Holocaust survivors settled in Wisconsin, most immigrating during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Survivors were from across Europe, although a large percentage of The Generation After interview subjects were of Polish origin.
Early in 2012 the online transcripts will also be accessible via Wisconsin Heritage Online (WHO), an electronic portal featuring content from libraries, archives, museums and historical societies from across the Badger state. Marquette University Libraries is a founding member of WHO.
Questions about the project may directed to Bill Fliss, by phone (414-288-5906) or e-mail.