Race on to save Shoah memories

By Rachel Fletcher, April 17, 2008

A “race against time” has been launched to put all unpublished Holocaust memoirs in an online collection.

The programme, run by the Claims Conference, was announced by historian Professor Saul Friedländer, winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. Elie Wiesel is honorary chairman.

Survivors are scattered throughout 75 countries, and submissions will be accepted in any language.

Claims Conference chairman Julius Berman said: “We are appealing to Holocaust survivors around the world to commit to paper their experiences that have lived so vividly in their memories for more than 60 years. We are going to ensure that their stories will live on long after they are gone.” Details of the appeal are available at memoirs.claimscon.org.

In Britain, survivor Ben Helfgott, who chairs the Claims Conference memoirs committee, said: “There’s no point publishing books that are already on shelves. There are people who have written their memoirs which have not been published because they’re about 60-100 pages long, and that doesn’t lend itself to publication.”

Mr Helfgott added that he would contact survivors to urge them to record their experiences. “Survivors are dying almost every day. We want to encourage those who are still alive, and have not written their stories down, to do it. I’ve been trying to engage survivors to write their memoirs for a long time.”

Last updated: 4:11pm, May 13 2008