Ottawa Holocaust Survivors’ Testimony Project

Ottawa Holocaust Survivors’ Testimony Project

The Rundown

The Ottawa Holocaust Survivors’ Testimony Project of the Centre for Holocaust Education and Scholarship (CHES) at Carleton University’s Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies has two objectives: 1. To create a permanent visual archive of the authentic personal testimonies of Ottawa area Holocaust survivors for future generations; and 2. To develop educational materials which will place these unique testimonies in their specific context and at the same time enable CHES to enhance its outreach capability to develop and promote the broad use of Holocaust related educational resources by students, researchers, educators, and the general public.

The Background

Having worked with Holocaust survivors over the years, members of CHES understood that there was an urgent need to record and preserve the stories of survivors in their own words before it was too late. In Phase I of this project, thanks to the generosity of  donors, ten Ottawa area Holocaust survivors were interviewed about their experiences during the Holocaust. The original interviews were edited to create ten 30 minute videos telling the stories of each individual survivor. These videos are now completed and will soon be available on the CHES website. Brief extracts from each video can already be viewed on the CHES website at:

The unedited interviews, as primary oral history resources, will also be available to researchers upon request from the archival collections of Carleton’s MacOdrum Library. The recording of the ten different survivor testimonies were made in a professional studio environment with the help of professional cameramen, editors, graphic designers, and researchers under the guidance of an experienced film director and the director of CHES.

The Rollout

Our goal is to raise $20,000 for Phase II of this project. This amount will help cover the cost of researching, developing, preparing and testing educational materials, including the production of theme-based videos which will feature excerpts from the personal testimonies of the Ottawa Holocaust Survivors already recorded. The funds will also allow CHES to develop an effective promotional and outreach strategy to bring the Testimonies and other educational materials to schools, to educational institutions, as well as the public.

In Phase II donor support will allow us to research and gather background information; develop suitable educational materials for school outreach; produce teaching aids including one or more videos, and various other digital and online resources. This additional work will allow the project to present multiple perspectives while still retaining the voices of those who experienced and witnessed the genocidal policies and crimes of the Nazis and their collaborators. Holocaust historians have recently acknowledged the importance of victims’ and survivors’ personal accounts in gaining a full understanding of the Nazi genocide.

The final products will provide glimpses into the lives of individuals during the Holocaust that cannot be obtained from documents or written record while also providing hands-on educational material for educators. Our aim is to create powerful pedagogical tools which can be used in any educational institution or setting and promoted through the use of up-to-date technology and social media. This special Ottawa based Holocaust Memorial project will become a public resource freely accessible online through the website of the Centre for Holocaust Education and Scholarship (CHES) at Carleton University

The Benefits

This project is championed by the Centre for Holocaust Education and Scholarship (CHES), at the Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies at Carleton University. The videos and educational materials to be produced by experts will become a resource not only to scholars and researchers in many disciplines but to high school and university students and the public at large. They will also be useful for the development of anti-racism educational materials. The combination of personal testimonies and historical accounts will mutually enrich and enlighten each other to open up new perspectives and understanding. Last but not least, easy online access will help to advance teaching and learning about the Holocaust and other genocides.