(Miami, FL) February 14, 2011—Alan Rosen’s newest book, The Wonder of Their Voices: The 1946 Interviews of David Boder (2010, Oxford University Press), is the first full-length case study of early postwar Holocaust testimony. On Wednesday, February 23, 2011 he will deliver two lectures in Miami, one at Florida International University and one at Books & Books Bal Harbour Shops. Both lectures are free and open to the public.
Over the last several decades, video testimony with aging Holocaust survivors has brought these witnesses into the limelight. Yet the success of these projects has made it seem that little survivor testimony took place in earlier years. In truth, thousands of survivors began to recount their experiences at the earliest opportunity.
Rosen’s work focuses on psychologist David Boder’s 1946 displaced persons interview project. In July 1946, Boder, a psychologist, traveled to Europe to interview victims of the Holocaust who were in the Displaced Persons (DP) camps and what he called “shelter houses.” During his nine weeks in Europe, Boder carried out approximately 130 interviews in nine languages and recorded them on a wire recorder.
Likely the earliest audio recorded testimony of Holocaust survivors, the interviews are valuable today for the spoken word (that of the DP narrators and of Boder himself) and also for the song sessions and religious services that Boder recorded. Eighty sessions were eventually transcribed into English, most of which were included in a self-published manuscript. Alan Rosen sets Boder’s project in the context of the postwar response to displaced persons, sketches the dramatic background of his previous life and work, chronicles in detail the evolving process of interviewing both Jewish and non-Jewish DPs, and examines from several angles the implications for the history of Holocaust testimony. He includes substantial quotation of the interviews, which convey the drama of Boder’s meetings with a wide range of displaced persons.
Such early postwar testimony, Rosen avers, deserves to be taken on its own terms rather than to be enfolded into earlier or later schemas of testimony. Moreover, Boder’s efforts and the support he was given for them demonstrate that American postwar response to the Holocaust was not universally indifferent but rather often engaged, concerned, and resourceful.
“The early postwar testimonies are extremely important documents. The perspectives are immediate and raw, when the wounds were unprocessed, as opposed to the reflective testimonies that we are more familiar with from the 1980s and 1990s,” notes Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi. “Additionally, many of the testimonies we are familiar with—recorded forty or more years after the Holocaust—were from survivors who were children, teens, or very young adults during the war; Boder’s testimonies, many from individuals who experienced the Holocaust as mature adults, are from a wider range of ages than the testimonies from recent decades. These testimonies provide an invaluable perspective for the history of the Jewish people.”
Information about the lectures on Wednesday, February 23
11 am, Florida International University
MARC International Pavilion
Modesto A. Maidique Campus
Part of the Ruth K. and Shepard Broad Distinguished Lecture Series of the School of International and Public Affairs
Hosted by: FIU Judaic Studies Program
Sponsored by: FIU Judaic Studies Program and Targum Shlishi
Questions and information: contact the School of International and Public Affairs at 305.348.7266
7:30 pm, Books&Books Bal Harbour Shops
9700 Collins Ave.
Bal Harbour, FL 33154
Sponsored by: Books&Books, FIU Judaic Studies Program, and Targum Shlishi
Questions and information: contact Books & Books (Bal Harbour Shops) at 305.864.4241
About Alan Rosen
Alan Rosen teaches Holocaust literature at the International School for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem, Israel. In addition to his latest book, The Wonder of Their Voices: The 1946 Interviews of David Boder, he is the author of Sounds of Defiance: The Holocaust, Multilingualism, and the Problem of English and Dislocating the End: Climax, Closure and the Invention of Genre, the collaborator on a French edition of I Did Not Interview the Dead, by David Boder; and the editor of Approaches to Teaching Wiesel’s Night. He was a research fellow of the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah from 2006-2009. He has also held fellowships at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; the International Institute for Holocaust Research, Yad Vashem; the Katz Center for Advanced Jewish Studies, University of Pennsylvania, and the Archives for the History of American Psychology, University of Akron. He has taught at universities and colleges in Israel and the United States and was educated in Boston under the direction of Elie Wiesel. He lives in Jerusalem with his family.
About the Judaic Studies Program at Florida International University
The Judaic Studies Program in the School of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University educates university students and faculty and the general South Florida community about Jewish history, culture, religion, literature, political science, and international relations. Judaic Studies offers academically rigorous, multidisciplinary courses at both the Biscayne Bay and University Park campuses in a wide range of departments. Community outreach events sponsored by the JSP are open to the public and the FIU community and feature leading scholars speaking on a variety of topics, such as Latin American Jewry and Holocaust Studies. For additional information visit its website at http://casgroup.fiu.edu/judaic/or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Targum Shlishi
Targum Shlishi is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website at www.targumshlishi.org.