Report on Archives with Significant Holocaust Holdings

Jill Reilly

This report will clarify the context of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation materials, by examining a selection of archives programs. Many institutions have made an effort to collect Holocaust and World War II primary documents. Government archives, especially the German Federal Archives, have considerable holdings of official wartime records. These are much use to scholars and historians, who wish to trace political actions. Museums, universities, and smaller private institutions have worked to gather personal papers, survivor testimonies, and witness accounts. The individualized nature of these records makes them valuable in qualitative studies. Typically, either the volume or the diversity of such collections attracts researchers.

I briefly overview eleven archives with significant holdings concerning the Holocaust, and I explain what materials make their holdings exceptional. While numerous institutions collect Holocaust archival materials, I have chosen to highlight programs which I believe have the most substantial and/or unique holdings. Three of the American archives I chose (Fortunoff Video Archives, Voice Vision, and Voices of the Holocaust) are projects in the same vein as our own, with a focus on audio/visual testimonies and access.

The sheer volume of the Shoah VHF documentation makes it remarkable in the context of Holocaust archival programs. In fact, a number of other archival programs (including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem) already enrich their holdings by providing access to the Shoah VHF interviews which are now available. This sort of collaboration is common among Holocaust archives, because they seek to ease researchers' travel demands. In future reports, I will be looking at researcher and user needs specific to Holocaust Studies.

For convenience, I grouped the programs geographically (Europe, Israel, and the United States), and I provided links to more information about each collection. Some of the European archives do not have websites available in English, so in those cases I linked to their descriptions in The European Guide to Archival Sources on the Shoah, which was compiled by the French Center of Contemporary Jewish Documentation with an English translation. (On the guide's page, you may need to scroll down for the specific program's entry.)

German Federal Archives
Jewish Historical Research Institute
The State Museum of Oswiecim-Brzezinka (Auschwitz-Birkenau)
Center of Contemporary Jewish Documentation
The Archives Related to the German Occupation of Denmark 1940-1945

Yad Vashem

United States:
The National Archives and Records Administration
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Fortunoff Video Archives
Voice Vision at University of Michigan-Dearborn
Voices of the Holocaust at Illinois Institute of Technology

If you have any questions, contact me at
Created December 2001.