Survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust are the subjects of “Those Who Were There,” a new podcast from Yale University’s Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies. The podcast is narrated by Eleanor Reissa, actress and Yiddish theater director, and historical oversight by Professor Samuel Kassow. “Those Who Were There” podcast features audio from videotaped interviews conducted between 1979 up to the present. "Back in 1979, video was regarded as a remarkable, groundbreaking technology for documenting the experiences of survivors. The testimonies that resulted were and remain very powerful,” said Stephen Naron, director of the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies. “Today, by adapting our holdings to the podcast format, we have an opportunity to bring these intimate personal accounts of Holocaust survivors and witnesses to a world-wide listenership. After all, only a fraction of our more than 4,400 testimonies have ever been viewed. Every voice, every story is important, and the podcast is a chance to provide a public space for each survivor, one episode at a time.” The podcast’s first season will feature 10 episodes, including accounts from Jewish survivors, non-Jewish witnesses and liberators. The memories shared express a wide range of experiences before, during and after the Second World War by those who experienced it. Still, it is only a small glimpse into the thousands of stories held in this diverse archive.
Episode 10 — Judith PerlakiTeenaged Judith Perlaki recalled cheating death twice after being deported from Hungary to Auschwitz. But most of her family wasn’t so fortunate. While assigned to sort the belongings of people sent to the gas chambers, Judith discovered the dresses of her little sister and aunt.
Episode 9 — Elias RecanatiWhen the Germans took control of the Greek city of Salonika, Elias Racanati’s family had one chance to escape—his mother’s family hailed from Spain. But they had to cross German-occupied Europe to get there.
Episode 8 — Malka BaranMalka Baran expressed her love of children by caring for a toddler hidden in the barracks of a concentration camp and teaching first grade at her DP camp. It was the start of her lifelong commitment to early-childhood education.
Episode 7 - Leon PommersFleeing Warsaw ahead of the invading Nazis, concert pianist Leon Pommers was propelled into a perilous journey around the world in hopes of reuniting with his sister in America.
Episode 6 - Esther SchwartzmanAs Polish Jews fled across the border into Hungary bearing stories of Nazi atrocities, Esther Schwartzman’s family and community didn’t believe that such things could happen to them. Then in early 1944, everything changed.
Episode 5 - Abram MerczynskiWhen Abram Merczynski’s brother organized an orchestra in the Lodz ghetto, Abram promised himself that if he survived the war, he’d learn to play the violin. He lived—and kept his promise.
Episode 4 - Helena JonasDeported to the Plaszów concentration camp, Helen Jonas faced almost certain death. Instead, she was chosen by Amon Göth—the camp’s notorious, brutal commandant—to be his servant.
Episode 3 - Annelies HerzTeenage Annelies Herz saw that fellow Jewish forced laborers were disappearing. So to survive in wartime Germany, she and her twin sister went underground: they secured new identities and never stayed in one place for long.
Episode 2 -- Isaac ZiemanIsaac Zieman was a passionate young Zionist with plans to make a life in Palestine. Instead, the Nazi invasion of Latvia propelled him on a years-long journey that took him across the Soviet Union and Europe and finally to the United States.
Episode 1 -- Sally FrishbergHigh school teacher Sally Frishberg used her childhood experience of being hidden for two years with her family in a Polish farmer’s attic to create one of the first public high school classes on the history of the Holocaust.