Exhibit marking forty-five years of video testimony opens in July at the Beinecke

By Stephen Naron - July 11, 2024

Preparations are underway for a new exhibit entitled In the First Person: The Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies. Co-curated by Konstanze Kunst, the Joseph and Ceil Mazer Librarian for Jewish Studies at Yale Library, and Stephen Naron, Director of the Fortunoff Archive, the exhibit is scheduled for installation at the end of July.

Marking the forty-fifth anniversary of the first videotaping by the Holocaust Survivors Film Project, a grassroots New Haven community initiative that evolved into the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, In the First Person will be the first large-scale public exhibition of footage from this groundbreaking collection. Excerpts from nineteen video testimonies presents the experiences of survivors and witnesses to the atrocities and genocide committed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators.

These videos are presented alongside a display of books, pamphlets, manuscripts, documents, and other items from the collections of Yale Library that present a history of Jewish efforts to document anti-Jewish persecution by means of eyewitness accounts, from the Kishinev Pogrom of 1903 through the Holocaust and its aftermath.

The exhibition confronts the myth that survivors were silent about their experiences in the immediate post–World War II period and provides further context for understanding the Fortunoff Archive’s historical significance and impact.

Taken together, these materials reveal longstanding Jewish practices of documentation following periods of destruction and violence. While the Fortunoff Archive has been pathbreaking in harnessing the potential of video technology, it also participates in a Jewish tradition that extends as far back as the Biblical commandment to remember the past.

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