Fortunoff Archive and Vienna Wiesenthal Institute to Encourage Use of the Collection in Europe

By Christy Bailey-Tomecek - August 18, 2021

Over the last three years, the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies and the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute (VWI) have cooperated on a number of joint projects, including events, conferences and a shared fellowship program based in Vienna. Now, the two institutions are launching a new initiative to open a temporary "European Outreach Office" for the Fortunoff Archive in Vienna. Many of the Archive's researchers are based at universities, museums and cultural institutions in Europe. VWI has kindly offered to host the Fortunoff Video Archive’s European Outreach Office at its Vienna location at no cost during the two-year program. The new office will help the Fortunoff Archive deepen its cooperation with the European research community, allow it to participate actively in VWI's vibrant programming, and embark on its own ambitious outreach effort in Europe -- the Fortunoff Archive already has three conferences/events focusing on testimony planned for 2022 in Europe and Israel.

Although the Fortunoff Archive was born in New Haven, it did not stay in New Haven. Reflecting the wide geographic scope of the Holocaust, the effort to document the experiences of survivors was an international one. The Fortunoff Archive cooperated with affiliate projects in over a dozen different countries to record, catalog, preserve and provide access to thousands of firsthand accounts of the Holocaust. "With digitization of the entire collection complete, we now have a unique possibility of returning this international collection to the countries from whence it originated," says Stephen Naron, Director of the Fortunoff Archive.

Naron, who is being "seconded" as a research fellow to VWI, will use the Vienna location as a base to coordinate with faculty at institutions of higher learning to encourage use of the collection at universities across Europe and in Israel. Despite his physical absence, the Fortunoff Archive remains deeply committed to serving the Yale community. With the oversight of our academic advisor, Professor Timothy Snyder, Fortunoff has expanded its contribution to the Yale scholarly community by establishing a fellowship program that brings postdoctoral scholars to Yale, as well as prominent Senior Research Scholars. These fellows will begin to take a more active role in teaching with testimony at Yale, by seeking appointments as lecturers. "Our goal is to use Fortunoff resources and fellows to bring more testimony into the classroom at Yale. It's another example of how the Archive contributes to academic life at Yale," says Naron.

The European Outreach Office will not reduce the Fortunoff Archive's commitment to Yale, but expand it, while embracing the collection's international origins, as it was born as a collaborative worldwide effort. It will serve our researchers in the places where important Holocaust research is being conducted – primarily in Europe, where scholars are grappling with each country's role during the Holocaust.

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