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Austrian Heritage Archive

 

Digital Collection of Biographical Interviews with Jewish Austrian Emigrants to the USA and Israel

 

The Austrian Heritage Archive (AHA) is an online archive comprising audio and video interviews as well as a selection of biographical materials pertaining to Jewish Austrian emigrants who survived National Socialism and who live(d) in the USA or Palestine/Israel. The database was developed between 2013 and 2017 by a team of historians and programmers under the direction of Philipp Rohrbach (Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, VWI) and Adina Seeger (Verein GEDENKDIENST) and was financed by the National Funds of the Republic of Austriafor Victims of National Socialism, the Future Funds of the Republic of Austria, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, and the VWI. The scholarly advisor for this project was Prof. Albert Lichtblau.

 

Following its completion in October 2017, the database was presented to the public at the Chamber of Labour in Vienna and has since then been accessible online under www.austrianheritagearchive.at.

 

At present, the AHA website contains 20 full-length interviews that have been transcribed and augmented with biographical materials. The interviews and corresponding materials form a part of the over 800 interviews of the Austrian Heritage Collection (AHC) – one of the largest collections relating to Jewish Austrian emigration to the USA and to Israel. The interviews were conducted, recorded, and archived over the past 20 years at the Leo Baeck Institute in New York and since 2013 at the Leo Baeck Institute in Jerusalem by young Austrians who were sent to the respective countries by the Verein GEDENKDIENST.

 

The current project will run for 24 months and aims to achieve the following:

 

1) Since the presentation of the Austrian Heritage Archive in October 2017, some 4,000 users from over 40 countries have used the online archive. Based on feedback from users and experts, the online appearance of the Austrian Heritage Archive will be optimised, with the website menus being simplified, the search and access speed being increased, and the full-text searches and keyword-annotation of the contents (interviews, documents, and photos) being enhanced. Moreover, a mobile version of the AHA website will be created for mobile telephones and tablets.

 

2) A further 20 interviews will be edited, transcribed, and prepared for publication in the Austrian Heritage Archive.

 

3) Prof. Albert Lichtblau will author a book on the Austrian Heritage Collection (AHC) in New York, which will be published in the studies series of the VWI. Alongside a description of the origins of the project and the design of the AHC, he will evaluate the 1,800 or so completed forms of Questionnaire 2 that have been collected by the GEDENKDIENST volunteers at the Leo Baeck Institute in New York since 1996. In these extraordinary source materials, the Jewish Austrian emigrant and survivor respondents supplied information on their personal memories in their own words. Wherever relevant or necessary, these statements will be compared to the interviews, documents, and memoirs held in the Austrian Heritage Collection in New York. The planned book will present and analyse the breadth of experiences and processes of coming to terms of Jewish Austrian emigrants and survivors in the USA.

 

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The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) is funded by:

 

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