Pandemic Forces Holocaust Survivor Interviews Onto ZoomBreaking News
tags: oral history, Holocaust history
Holocaust survivor Mano Orel, 95, was an hour and a half into telling his story when he broke down and began to cry.
He had been recounting his life as a German-speaking Jewish teenager in Greece who translated for unsuspecting Nazis, how he had been part of the resistance and how he helped eliminate collaborators.
But when he got to the part about how his mother, Liza, and younger brother, Rafael, had been lured to an Athens synagogue with promises of food, and how they were shipped off to the Auschwitz death camp, he began to weep.
Ina Navazelskis, an interviewer with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, was quiet for a moment as she watched him on her laptop in her study in Falls Church, Va. Normally, she would have been face to face with Orel in his home with a video and audio crew.
Now, forced by the pandemic to talk on a shaky Zoom connection over a cellphone taped to his computer, Orel took out some tissues and wiped his nose.
“Do you want me to stop the recording for a minute?” Navazelskis asked.
“No,” he said, composing himself. “You don’t have to stop it. Go ahead.”
Among the other things disrupted by the global pandemic has been the Holocaust museum’s 30-year-long oral history project.
Since 1989, the museum has conducted more than 6,000 interviews with people touched by the Holocaust, the World War II genocide by Germany and its allies of millions of Europe’s Jews, Poles, Russians and others.