Oral histories of Jewish experience and Holocaust testimonies

Children at Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland
Children at Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland.

We have interviews with Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors, Jewish Londoners and women, and Sephardi Jews in the UK.

About the collection

Our collections document Jewish experiences in Britain and include testimonies of pre-Second World War Jewish refugees to Britain, those fleeing from Nazi persecution during the Second World War, and Holocaust survivors and their children.

What is available online?

  • The Living Memory of the Jewish Community (C410) is a National Life Stories project, consisting of 188 interviews recorded between 1987 and 2000. This major collection was developed with the specialist advice of leading historians of Jewish experience and complements a number of collections held by the British Library on Jewish Life. The primary focus was on pre-Second World War Jewish refugees to Britain, those fleeing from Nazi persecution during the Second World War, Holocaust survivors and their children. 
  • The Holocaust Survivors' Centre Testimony Recording Project (C830) was a National Life Stories collaborative project with the Jewish Care Holocaust Survivors' Centre, a Jewish social centre in north London for survivors who were in Europe during the Second World War or who came to the UK as refugees. The project ran between 1993 and 1998, recording over 150 interviews.
  • Herbert Levy German Jewish Refugees (C958) interviews comprises oral history interviews with German Jewish refugees to Britain recorded between 1994-1997, recorded and donated by the late Herbert Levy.
  • The Central British Fund Kindertransport interviews (C526) looks at the efforts to help Jewish children escape Nazi Germany and the experiences of children who came to Britain as part of the Kindertransport.
  • Voices of the Holocaust is a learning resource aimed at Secondary School pupils who have already made an initial study of the Holocaust. It consists of extracts from oral history testimonies gathered from Jewish men and women who came to live in Britain during or after WWII, archived at the British Library.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

Holocaust interviews

  • Testimony: video interviews with British Holocaust survivors (C533) is a collection of more than 170 video interviews with Holocaust survivors recorded in collaboration with Yale University's Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies. This collection was also known as the British Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies.
  • The Anton Gill Collection (C551) comprises 59 interviews, some in German and French, carried out between 1985 and 1986 with survivors of Nazi concentration camps including Jewish inmates, political prisoners and non-Jewish prisoners.

Jewish experience in Britain

  • The London Museum of Jewish Life Oral History Interviews (C525) comprises more than 100 interviews giving accounts of Jewish life in London in the twentieth century.
  • Chief Rabbi's Office Recordings (C496) include recordings of the Conference of European Rabbis, readings, speeches and musical interludes.
  • Pascall Theatre Company: Mothers and Daughters - A Jewish Archive collection (C1242) comprises 50 interviews with Jewish women of various ages and cultural backgrounds recorded by the Pascal Theatre Company in collaboration with the London Jewish Cultural Centre.
  • Sephardi Voices UK (C1638) is a collection of video and audio oral histories of the Sephardi Jewish community in the UK and is part of a global initiative to record oral histories with the Sephardi community. Over forty full-length videos are available to watch in the Reading Rooms. Video extracts from the interviews are available at the Sephardi Voices website.