In Our Own Words Interview Project

The “In Our Own Words” interview project is a new initiative to interview and archive the testimony of second and third generation descendants of Holocaust survivors conducted by faculty and students at the University of Hartford’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies. Over the past thirty years, a growing body of literature has documented the lasting effects of the Holocaust on the children and grandchildren of survivors. Various studies have pointed to the intergenerational transmission of both trauma and resilience in the families of survivors, and indicated the central impact of the Holocaust in identity development among children and grandchildren of survivors. The purpose of “In Our Own Words” is to collect and record the testimonies of the children and grandchildren of survivors, so that we may document and research the lasting effects of the Holocaust in 21st century Jewish society. Topics to be examined in the interviews include the child’s understanding of parents’ experiences; when the child or grandchild first learned about the parents’ experiences; the impact of intergenerational transmission of trauma; the motivation of the child to remember and re-tell their parent’s experience; the effects of resilience on identity formation; and more.

The Greenberg Center has received seed-funding from the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford to conduct the first 100 interviews with the children and grand-children of survivors in Hartford. We have already begun to work with partners in Israel and Australia who will replicate the interviews in communities there; the comparative aspects of such a video archive will be tremendous.

Our proposed program would create a new archive of film documentation whichwill create a repository for the hours of standardized interviews to be used by scholars, educators, and families alike. The Initiative would be a worldwide effort to document through interviews the effects of the Holocaust (and perhaps at a later stage, other genocides) upon individuals and families over time and between generations and would be available for study, research, teaching, and curriculum development. After beginning with a series of pilot studies in select communities around the world, the initiative will eventually create the largest repository of interviews with the descendants of Holocaust survivors in an attempt to better understand the last impact of the Shoah on the children and grandchildren of survivors. We imagine this repository will be useful for educators who seek to employ the testimonies of children of survivors in the classroom; for scholars researching the inter-generational transmission of trauma and resilience, as well as the impact of survival on identity formation; the potential for comparative research in settings worldwide will also be tremendous.


For more information, please contact Prof. Avinoam Patt at patt@hartford.edu.