Keynote speakers

Philip Marfleet

University of East London, UK.
Philip Marfleet is Emeritus Professor of Migration Studies at the University of East London, UK. He has published widely on migration and the state; patterns and dynamics of mass displacement; refugee histories; diaspora; racism and exclusion in Europe; and migration and religion. He is the author of Refugees in a Global Era (Palgrave Macmillan), and inter alia of “Displacements of memory”; “Explorations in a foreign land: states, refugees and the problem of history”; “ ‘Hidden’/’forgotten’: predicaments of the urban refugee”; and “Refugees and history: why we must address the past”. He is also the author of several books on social and political movements in the modern Middle East, most recently, Egypt – contested revolution (Pluto Press).

The unheard – silencing refugees in modern history
Forced migration has been integral to the making of the modern state. For almost four centuries nation-states have been constructed through processes of inclusion and exclusion associated with mass movements of population. But with rare exceptions, those affected by displacement do not appear on the historical record – their experiences remain “unheard”. In this paper, Philip Marfleet asks why forced migration – and forced migrants – are largely absent from the archival record and from mainstream history.
The paper considers how historians address “national” histories – and the implications for those assumed to stand outside national society. It examines processes that shaped the modern state in Europe and North America and means by which states emerged across the Global South, producing repeated mass displacements that have often been erased from the historical record.
Why have historians silenced forced migrants? What does this suggest about the agendas of mainstream history and the process of state-making – and what can we learn from exceptional cases in which refugees have been integrated into official narratives?
The paper also considers remedial measures appropriate to reinstate those silenced in official records – and key issues that arise when refugees’ experiences are addressed as matters of intrinsic importance.

Stephen Naron

The Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University
Stephen Naron is Director at Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University. Stephen Naron has worked as an archivist/librarian since 2003, when he received his MSIS from the University of Texas, Austin. Stephen pursued a Magister in Jewish studies/history at the Freie Universitaet Berlin and the Zentrum fuer Antisemitismusforschung, TU. Stephen has worked with the Fortunoff Archive for more than 12 years, starting as an Archivist. Now, as director of the Fortunoff Video Archive, Stephen works within the wider research community to share access to our collection through the access site program, as well as writing and presenting on testimony for conferences, symposiums, and class sessions inside and outside Yale. Stephen is also responsible for spearheading initiatives such as preservation and digital access to the collection; cooperative projects with other testimony collections; oversight of fellowship and research programs; and the production of the podcasts, ethnomusicological recordings, and the Archive’s documentary film series.

The Fortunoff Archive as Model of Grassroots Refugee/Survivor Archival Activism
In 1979, a grassroots organization, the Holocaust Survivors Film Project, began videotaping Holocaust survivors and witnesses in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1981, the original collection of 183 testimonies was deposited at Yale University, and the Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies opened its doors to the public in 1982. Since then, the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies has initiated, recorded, and preserved witness testimonies in North and South America, Europe, and Israel. The collection of over 4,400 testimonies comprising more than 12,000 hours is available to researchers, educators, and the general public.

Because it was founded by refugees and survivors, the Archive is a fascinating early example of the use of video oral history as a form or “archival activism” by and for survivors of mass violence. Its embeddedness in the community has had a lasting influence on all aspects of the Archive’s work including its conceptualization, interview methodology, cataloguing, and how the collection should be used in teaching and research. This presentation will explore this influence by examining the history of the collection, the archive’s role in helping to shift focus to the individual witness in Holocaust historiography, and some of the ethical challenges and obligations inherent in an archive of this nature.   

Christine Schmidt

The Wiener Holocaust Library
Christine Schmidt is Deputy Director and Head of Research at The Wiener Holocaust Library. Her research has focused on the International Tracing Service, post-war search and collecting initiatives, the Nazi concentration camp system and comparative studies of collaboration and resistance in France and Hungary. She is currently writing a social history and archival biography of a collection of survivor accounts recorded by the Library and led by Eva Reichmann in the 1950s.
Christine Schmidt is Deputy Director and Head of Research at The Wiener Holocaust Library. Her research has focused on the International Tracing Service, post-war search and collecting initiatives, the Nazi concentration camp system and comparative studies of collaboration and resistance in France and Hungary. She is currently writing a social history and archival biography of a collection of survivor accounts recorded by the Library and led by Eva Reichmann in the 1950s.


We are all Witnesses: Eva Reichmann and the Wiener Library’s Early Survivor Narratives
This talk will examine the role of German Jewish scholar and refugee Eva Reichmann in shaping a project she led for the Wiener Library in London in the 1950s to record survivor accounts of the Holocaust. Funded by the Claims Conference and launching as other historical commissions were winding down their activities, the project recorded more than 1300 eyewitness accounts with interviews conducted throughout Britain, continental Europe and elsewhere, often by refugees or survivors themselves. Reichmann’s initiative exhibited important continuities with the work that Library founder Alfred Wiener and his colleagues, mainly German-speaking refugees who had fled Nazi persecution, had been carrying out since the 1920s as they documented evidence of the Nazis’ crimes. Now reconceived as a digital archive (testifyingtothetruth.co.uk), the eyewitness accounts collection offers the opportunity to consider the influence of Reichmann’s scholarship and her experiences as a German Jewish refugee woman in shaping and implementing the project as well as to analyse early postwar formulations of narratives of survival, especially by Jewish refugees who fled Nazi persecution in the 1930s and who recalled the trauma and chaos of the initial years of Nazi terror. Finally, the talk will also explore the potential for reframing and repositioning of these narratives as a new digital archive.
‘We are all Witnesses’: Eva Reichmann and the Wiener Library’s Early Survivor Narratives

Zoë Waxman

University of Oxford
Zoe Waxman is Departmental Lecturer in Modern Jewish History at University of Oxford, UK.

She has published widely on Holocaust, gender and representation. She is the author of Writing the Holocaust: Identity, Testimony, Representation (Oxford University Press 2006) and Women in the Holocaust: A Feminist History (Oxford University Press 2017). She is currently working on a project about rape and sexual abuse in genocide (together with the Shoah Foundation).


Testimony as a Response to Mass Atrocity: The Case of the Holocaust
‘[M]y terror of forgetting is greater than my terror of having too much to remember’
Yosef H. Yerushalami

The paradox of the Holocaust is the ever-unresolved tension between silence and a profusion of testimony. Many – most – of those caught up in the tragedy of the mass murder of the Jewish people and others by the Nazis left no records. Many of those who survived remained silent – or were silenced. And yet, even amidst the atrocities, numerous testimonies were recorded and still more – many more – have been produced thereafter. This paradox raises a series of methodological problems for scholars. In this paper, I will seek to tease out the implications and the opportunities that thus arise. By tracing the history of Holocaust testimony from the period before the Holocaust to the present day, I will show not only that Holocaust testimony has a history but also that this is itself mediated by wider histories.