IIT’s Boder Archive

From Tzivi’s June ’11 Spotlight:

During the final days of World War II, Psychology Professor David Boder of the Illinois Institute of Technology began petitioning the US State Department for permission to enter Displaced Persons camps in France and Germany to interview Jews about their Holocaust experiences. Boder finally reached Europe in July 1946, where, using bleeding edge technology (for its time), he captured 118 sessions with a wire recorder.

Back in his Chicago classroom by October, Boder had transcripts typed up which he personally translated into English. He published a book with eight interviews (I Did Not Interview The Dead) and mimeographed dozens more which he mailed to libraries. Boder persisted for years, with minimal funding, but almost no one cared. Ironically he died of a heart attack in December 1961—one week after Adolph Eichmann was convicted of crimes against humanity in a Jerusalem courtroom.

In the intervening years we have been inundated by survivor testimony, but as a trained psychologist, Boder worried that it was already too late to obtain the immediate input he was after. As IIT archivist Ralph Pugh told me: “Even though Boder’s interviews are the earliest comprehensive interviews, they already reflect a selective removal for self-preservation.”

On Wednesday, June 22, Pugh and Professor M. Ellen Mitchell (Dean of IIT’s Institute of Psychology) will present an overview of a newly enhanced website which provides access to digitized versions of all of Boder’s original recordings. Each interview now has an English transcript, and almost all of them have original language transcripts as well. The website also contains collateral material prepared by contributing scholars including Alan Rosen and Donald Niewyk, plus Elliot Lefkovitz of Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies.

Click HERE to access the Boder archives on the IIT website.

Click HERE for more details about the 6/22 program (sponsored by the Chicago YIVO Society).

When: June 22 (Weds) @ 6 PM

Where: Harold Washington Library Center (Chicago Loop)

Read more about Boder in Rosen’s book The Wonder of Their Voices: The 1946 Holocaust Interviews of David Boder. Several transcripts are also available in Niewyk’s book Fresh Wounds: Early Narratives of Holocaust Survival.

Boder (1949)

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