The Wonder of Their Voices: The 1946 Holocaust Interviews of David Boder

Paperback | October 29, 2012

byAlan Rosen

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Over the last several decades, video testimony with aging Holocaust survivors has brought these witnesses into the limelight. Yet the success of these projects has made it seem that little survivor testimony took place in earlier years. In truth, thousands of survivors began to recount theirexperience at the earliest opportunity. This book provides the first full-length case study of early postwar Holocaust testimony, focusing on David Boder's 1946 displaced persons interview project. In July 1946, Boder, a psychologist, traveled to Europe to interview victims of the Holocaust who werein the Displaced Persons (DP) camps and what he called "shelter houses." During his nine weeks in Europe, Boder carried out approximately 130 interviews in nine languages and recorded them on a wire recorder. Likely the earliest audio recorded testimony of Holocaust survivors, the interviews are valuable today for the spoken word (that of the DP narrators and of Boder himself) and also for the song sessions and religious services that Boder recorded. Eighty sessions were eventually transcribed intoEnglish, most of which were included in a self-published manuscript. Alan Rosen sets Boder's project in the context of the postwar response to displaced persons, sketches the dramatic background of his previous life and work, chronicles in detail the evolving process of interviewing both Jewish andnon-Jewish DPs, and examines from several angles the implications for the history of Holocaust testimony. Such early postwar testimony, Rosen avers, deserves to be taken on its own terms rather than to be enfolded into earlier or later schemas of testimony. Moreover, Boder's efforts and the supporthe was given for them demonstrate that American postwar response to the Holocaust was not universally indifferent but rather often engaged, concerned, and resourceful.

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Over the last several decades, video testimony with aging Holocaust survivors has brought these witnesses into the limelight. Yet the success of these projects has made it seem that little survivor testimony took place in earlier years. In truth, thousands of survivors began to recount theirexperience at the earliest opportunity. This ...

Alan Rosen teaches Holocaust literature at the Yad Vashem, Israel and other Holocaust study centers. His previous books include Sounds of Defiance: The Holocaust, Multilingualism, and the Problem of English and Approaches to Teaching Wiesel's Night.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:October 29, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199945071

ISBN - 13:9780199945078

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Boder's Happy Idea1. I Could Not Help But Wonder: On Boder's Biography and the Idea of Testimony2. Summer, 1946, Part I: The European Expedition and the Ethnography of Testimony3. Summer, 1946 Part II: The Expansion of Testimony4. From Listening to Reading: Publishing the Interviews5. The Wonder of Their Voices: Testimony, Technology and Wire Recorded Narratives6. Making a Study of These Things: Boder's Interviews in the Context of Psychology7. In Divergent Tongues and Dialects: Multilingual Interviews and Literary ExperimentsEpilogue: Rewriting the History of Holocaust TestimonyAppendix I: Chronology of Interviews: July 29-October 4, 1946Appendix II: The Disputed Number of Boder InterviewsAppendix III: Topical Autobiographies of Displaced People: Volumes I through XVINotesBibliographic NoteIndex