Witness: Voices from the Holocaust

Joshua M. Greene, Editor, Shiva Kumar, Editor, Lawrence L. Langer, Foreword by Free Press $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-684-86525-6
Textbooks and historical accounts can provide a broad view of the Holocaust, but nothing can come close to the power of the testimony of those who were there. As Holocaust scholar Lawrence Langer writes in his introduction to this collage of first-hand accounts, ""Without survivor testimony, the human dimension of the catastrophe would remain a subject of speculation."" For more than two decades, the Fortunoff Video Archive at Yale University has been videotaping the oral histories of Holocaust survivors and eyewitnesses. This extraordinary project has resulted in a documentary that will air on PBS in April and in this companion book. Editors Greene, a filmmaker, and Kumar, a scholar specializing in ethics and morality in global TV production, have woven together the testimonies of 27 individuals into an unforgettable narrative of the Holocaust: starting with pre-WWII Jewish life, they go on to describe the war's outbreak, ghettos, resistance and hiding, death camps, death marches, liberation and life after the Holocaust. Through careful selection and sequencing, the editors have succeeded in their goal: ""to edit without editorializing."" These painfully sad testimonies speak for themselves, providing the horrific details of people's experiences. The common link among these speakers is the eternal scars they bear. One survivor concludes his remarks with the haunting words: ""I can't tell you everything in an interview. I couldn't even describe one day in the ghetto. I don't want to live with that pain, but it's there. It's there. It forms its own entity and it surfaces whenever it wants to."" These voices bring us a step closer to comprehending the lasting anguish of the Nazi genocide. Photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-20997-7
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-684-86526-3
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