Narratives and Testimonies

CHGS, along with the University of Minnesota libraries, are repositories for Holocaust survivor testimonies as well as testimonies from other genocides and acts of mass violence. The collections include oral testimonies of Minnesota survivors in both audio and video formats, as well as access to the 55,000 testimonies in the USC Shoah Foundation Video History Archive.

Visual History Archive (VHA) - University of Minnesota Libraries

The University of Minnesota Libraries subscribe to the Visual History Archive (VHA) which was developed by the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation's Institute for Visual History and Education. The VHA is the largest visual history archive in the world, and includes nearly 55,000 video testimonies conducted in 43 languages with interviewees from 65 countries. The testimonies pertain to events surrounding the Holocaust, as well as the Nanjing Massacre, Armenian Genocide, Rwandan Tutsi Genocide, Guatamalen Genocide, Cambodian Genocide, South Sudan Civil War, Central African Republic Conflict, and contemporary antisemitism.

For UMN students, faculty, and staff: web-based access to the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s VHA is available through the UMN Libraries.

For members of the general public: limited viewing access to 4,000 video testimonies is available to anyone by registering for a free account here.  Full access to all content of the archive is available using computer workstations on the University of Minnesota campus. For more information, please contact Brian Vetrubathe Librarian for Holocaust & Genocide Studies.  

Please note: due to the COVID-19 pandemic and building restrictions put in place by the UMN Libraries, on-site access to the VHA is currently unavailable. 

Minnesota Survivor Testimony, Photos and Artifacts - CHGS Oral History Collection

After the Holocaust, Minnesota became home to many Holocaust survivors. Many of these survivors graciously shared their time and testimony in hopes of preventing future atrocities and to help future generations understand the Holocaust. Several of these survivors spoke on the behalf of us and gave permission for both educators and scholars to use their personal stories, photos, artifacts, and recordings of various speaking engagements to teach and research the Holocaust.

Voice to Vision - available through UMN Libraries Digital Conservancy

The Voice to Vision collaborative project captures the extraordinary experiences of genocide survivors from different parts of the world. The stories of the survivors are first shared through dialogue, and then transformed into works of visual art that display painting, drawing, collage, and mixed media.

Minnesota Oral Histories 1982 - available through USHMM

At the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, 13 Minnesotan Holocaust survivors were interviewed in June, 1982. The interviews were in conjunction with a summer teacher's workshop taught by the founding director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Stephen Feinstein. The complete video collection is available at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM).

Minnesotans Oral Histories 1984 - available through USHMM 

As a part of a Holocaust oral history project sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Anti-Defamation League of Minnesota and the Dakotas, Rhoda Lewin interviewed Holocaust survivors, liberators, and witnesses living in Minnesota. The project was later published as Witnesses to the Holocaust: an oral history by Twayne Publishers in 1990. All 60 audio interviews are available at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM).