To mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2021, The Wiener Holocaust Library have launched their new digital resource, Testifying to the Truth. This database shares eyewitness accounts from the Holocaust, many of which have never been available to the public online before and have been translated into English for the first time by a team of the Library’s volunteers.

Behind the Testifying to the Truth collection

Between 1954 and 1960, Dr. Eva Reichmann, the Library’s Deputy Director and Head of Research, led an international search for witnesses to and documentary evidence of the Holocaust, which led to the creation of this collection of unparalleled depth. These documents provide us with first-hand information from the men, women and children who survived the Holocaust. They are invaluable as an educational resource to teach younger generations and as evidence to continue the fight against Holocaust distortion and denial. The Library is delighted that all 1,300 testimonies will be freely at the service of the public.

Topics covered by the eyewitness accounts range from descriptions of the experience of living through Nazi ghettos, concentration and death camps to the stories of those who hid from the Nazis, either in plain sight using false identities, or in attics and cellars. The authors were Jewish, Roma and Sinti survivors as well as those who witnessed Nazi persecution. There are also several testimonies from those who participated in resistance activities against the Nazis and their collaborators and those who managed to escape from the death camps.

Gertrude Deak: an eyewitness gives testimony

An example of one of the hundreds of testimonies now available to read is that of Gertrude Deak, a Jewish woman from Hungary. In 1958, Gertrude Deak spoke with one of the Library’s researchers and she gave an unflinching account of all that she lived through. In stark detail she describes her experiences of Nazi antisemitism, her imprisonment in numerous concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau, surviving a death march and her recollections of being liberated.

Gertrude Deak’s account as well as many other testimonies can be explored at the Testifying to the Truth website.

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