Introduction: Boder's Happy Idea

Alan Rosen

in The Wonder of Their Voices

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780195395129
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199866588 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Oral History Series

Introduction: Boder's Happy Idea

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The introductory chapter establishes a postwar context for Boder's interview project, examines misconceptions about testimony during this period, raises the issue of America's response to the Holocaust in relation to Boder's achievement, and discusses how the evolution of recording technology influences assessment of Holocaust testimony. Through a literary classic, it reflects on the risks of asking questions. This in turn leads into a discussion of David Boder's interview questions and, with four examples of interviews with Holocaust survivors, the perplexity that they rightly engendered. Boder was one of a number of postwar interviewers of displaced persons, and, after sketching the DPs' circumstances, the chapter provides an overview of these other early postwar testimony projects. These projects have been overlooked or given short shrift. The few scholars who addressed this early period have contributed some helpful terms but also wrongly classified all early testimony as “immediately after the war,” a characterization that does not accurately reflect Boder's work or perspective. Boder received support from American institutions in a manner that challenges the view of American postwar indifference toward the Holocaust. His wire recorder interviews draw attention to the way that the history of technology has shaped the history of Holocaust testimony.

Keywords: displaced persons; Holocaust testimony; perplexity; questions; American institutions

Chapter.  10266 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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