Colloquia on Modern Jewish History
Large Scale Use of Oral History Accounts in the Historiography of the Shoah: The Case of the Hungarian-Jewish Slave Labourers in Vienna (1944-45)
Éva Kovacs (Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies)
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.