Effort Mounted to Get $1 Million Fund for Archive for Holocaust Survivors’ Testimonies at Yale U.

An effort to raise more than a million dollars for an endowment to finance a permanent national video archive for Testimonies of Holocaust Survivors is underway at Yale University, initiated by a grant of $300,000 from the Charles Revson Foundation.

A. Bartlett Giamatti, Yale University president, said the Revson Foundation grant “recognizes a crucial program of documentation and preservation that started as a grassroots endeavor here in New Haven and is now linked with Yale University.”

He said the video archives are being housed in the university’s Sterling Library which has been designated as an official depository by the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, founded in 1980 as a federal agency. The Yale video archives plans to receive and preserve all videotaped testimonies and to develop a National Register of all such Holocaust materials.

NUCLEUS OF THE VIDEO ARCHIVES

Giamatti said the nucleus of the video-archives is a collection of films and videotapes of more than 250 interviews conducted in the Holocaust Survivors Film Project (HSFP), started in New Haven in 1979 by Mrs. Laurel Vlock of New Haven, an independent TV producer, and Dr. Dori Laub, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale and himself a survivor.

Geoffrey Hartman, Professor of English and Comparative Literature and co-chairman of Yale’s commission for Judaic Studies Development said the first interviews were with survivors living in the New Haven area and that the interviews were later extended to other parts of the United States and to survivors in other countries.

The HSFP presented its collection to the university last December. The Revson grant enables the university to operate the video archives program for the next four years while a permanent endowment fund of $750,000 is being raised, Giamatti said.

Eli Evans, Revson Foundation president, said the establishment of the archives at a leading university “ensures the preservation of precious material and its availability for scholarly research and educational purposes.”

Stressing the urgency of the interviewing, Hartman said most of the remaining survivors were elderly and must be reached “in the next few years if their testimony is to be recorded,” adding that “this is a witnessing that cannot be trivialized.”

ROLE OF JEWISH FEDERATION

The New Haven Jewish Federation had previously reported it planned to collect photographic eyewitness accounts and related data about the liberation of Nazi labor and death camps and donate the material to the Yale video archives. Announcement of that project was made at ceremonies at the Yale Law School last month which honored the New Haven area liberators of the Nazi camps.

In preparation for those ceremonies, according to Louise Etkind, Federation community relations director, a local search for liberators was started and more than 25 were found. She said many had preserved collections, assembled by members of their military units, on the liberation. These included photographs and other material on the horrors they had found when they entered the camps.

Marvin Lender, Federation president, said that the Federation has insured that “historians and scholars of the future will have access to eyewitness accounts to be used in conjunction with the video-archives” at the Yale Sterling Library.

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