Holocaust Archives at Yale Receive Revson Funding

The Charles H. Revson Foundation has made a one-year, $250,000 grant to the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale. The grant will enable the archive to begin preserving its collection of tapes and develop a documentary film tentatively titled “Voices from the Holocaust.”

The Fortunoff Video Archive was the first project to record eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust and to make its catalogue of tapes available via the Internet. Documentation began in 1979 and has been located at Yale since 1982. The original 2,500 hours of testimony, recorded 15-20 years ago, need to be recopied onto industry-standard tape format to prevent their physical deterioration, according to archivist Joanne Rudof.

Additional organizations funding the restoration project are the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, the GTE Foundation and Fleet Bank.

The proposed documentary will blend testimony from Holocaust survivors with voices from partisans, members of the Hitler Youth, American prisoners of war held in Nazi concentration camps, and U.S. military personnel who liberated the camps. The film will operate on two levels. The first is a chronological narrative, tracing the experience of the victims – Jews and non-Jews – from the Nazis’ rise to power through the Holocaust and its aftermath. The film will follow individuals as they are wrenched from tranquil and secure lives into mortal danger, taking them, eventually, to an imperfect restoration of normalcy after the war.

The second level will focus on timeless moments of pain and loss that have not faded over the years. Witnesses speak of their unforgettable suffering with such vividness and power that they force the viewer to reexamine the meaning of “survival.”

Material for the documentary will be drawn from the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies. Additonal funding for the documentary project was provided by Alan and Helene Fortunoff.

The Revson Foundation funded start-up costs and operating expenses during the Video Archive’s first years of operation. Since then, it has supported taping projects in Europe and South America, including testimony gathered in Poland, Ukraine and Belarus. The Revson Foundation is also a major sponsor of the Archive’s upcoming conference, “Searching for Memory and Justice: the Holocaust and Apartheid,” which will be held at Yale Feb. 8-10, in conjunction with the Schell Center for Human Rights at the Yale Law School.

The Fortunoff Video Archive currently has interviews with more than 3,800 eye-witnesses and over 10,000 recorded hours of videotape in its collection. The Archive and its 37 affiliates around the world continue to record the testimonies of willing individuals with first-hand experience of the Nazi persecutions. The Archive website, located at http://www.library.yale.edu/testimonies/, features excerpts from a variety of interviews, including video and audio clips. The Archive itself is open to the public weekdays, 8:30 a.m.-4:45 p.m. by appointment.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325