Large Scale Use of Oral History Accounts in the Historiography of the Shoah

17 October 2017 - 5 PM

Éva Kovács (Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, Vienna)

The Case of the Hungarian-Jewish Slave Labourers in Vienna (1944-45)

In the past two decades, thanks to the opening of the digital collections in the United States, Israel, and Europe, the usage of oral history sources became attractive in historical research. These archives hold an enormous number of testimonies, which makes the research easier and faster, but, on the other hand, raises serious methodological questions. Meanwhile, the last survivors who can still give testimonies are passing away – the oral history sources are turning into „normal” archival sources soon. These new developments are challenging the history-writing on the Shoah.

Our case study deals with the everyday life of approximately 15 thousand Hungarian-Jewish deportees who were forced to work in Vienna and its vicinity in 1944-45. The presentation will focus on the Quellenkritik (source criticism) and methodology of using large oral history archives to explore insufficiently documented historical subjects.


Modern Jewish History Seminar

The seminar is intended to provide a platform for academic discussion about the latest research on Jewish history especially of the last three centuries. Though primarily focused on the Jews of central and east central Europe, the seminar also includes topics related to the Jews of other regions. The seminar is further enriched by including topics not directly concerned with Jews, but enabling one to see Jewish history from other perspectives (for instance, the perspective of other marginalized communities).

Despite our preference for the methods of historical research, the organizers welcome multidisciplinary approaches to the topics, including those of sociology, political science, religious studies, and art history.

The seminar is held in the library of CEFRES, Na Florenci 3, Prague 1 always at 5:30 p.m. The language of the seminar is English. The seminar is organized by Kateřina Čapková and Michal Frankl. Since 2018/2019 the seminar is included into the MA program of the Prague Center for Jewish Studies at the Charles University. Due to Michal Frankl’s stay abroad this academic year, all the questions and suggestions should be sent to Kateřina Čapková (