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Portrait of the Goldberg Family, 1934. WHS Image ID 44865

Portrait of the Goldberg Family, 1934. WHi 44865

Images of Wisconsin's Holocaust Survivors


The images in this collection document the lives of 18 Wisconsin Holocaust survivors. They chronicle the survivors from childhood to adulthood, wartime to peacetime, and parenthood to old age. The photographs, dating from 1911 to 1980, are snapshots of family and friends, Jewish celebrations, significant events, and everyday life. Most date from after the war. Only a small percentage of the photographs depict life in Europe and very few show wartime conditions.

In addition, 16 survivors interviewed for the Oral Histories: Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust collection had portraits taken by project photographer David Mandel in 1980. Many of these images feature the Wisconsin survivors in their homes and/or workplaces.

These photographs ensure that the Holocaust and the role the survivors played are not forgotten. Browse 190 images online from the more than 1,600 images in the collection.

About the Oral Histories: Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust Collection

Between 1933 and 1945 more than 17 million people were imprisoned, deported, killed, sent to forced labor or left homeless during the Holocaust. After World War II about 140,000 survivors came to the U.S. More than 1,000 eventually settled in Wisconsin cities, including Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Kenosha, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Wausau, Merrill, Oshkosh and Monroe.

Wisconsin Historical Society archivists interviewed 22 Holocaust survivors and two American witnesses between 1974 and 1981. These oral histories generated more than 160 hours of tape and a collection of more than 1,600 images.

In their testimonies, the survivors recall Berlin during the rise of the Third Reich, Kristallnacht and other anti-Semitic violence, the Warsaw and Lodz ghettos, and conditions at Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen and other less-infamous concentration camps. They describe the fates of their families, starting life over again in postwar Europe, and emigrating to the U.S. and Israel. They also discuss being new American immigrants and life in Wisconsin's Jewish communities between 1945 and 1980.

In 2009 the Oral Histories: Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust Collection was made available online, digitally and in its entirety for the first time, uncensored and unfiltered. Each person's interview is organized within a testimony page, which features a biography, a summary of the interview contents, audio players for each tape side, and options to download the transcript, audio and pictures. They also contains information about the interview process. The digital collection was created through the generous financial support of the Helen Bader Foundation of Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Historical Foundation, and private donors.

The oral histories are also available in their original audiotape and transcript formats. They are held in the Society's archives, along with the collection's photographs, and are supplemented by Sara Leuchter's Guide to Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust: A Documentation Project of the Wisconsin Jewish Archives [Madison, 1983].

In 1997 the Wisconsin Historical Society Press excerpted highlights from the interviews in the book, Remembering the Holocaust.

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Suggestions for Further Reading

Turning Points: The World War II Military and Home Fronts

Voices of the Wisconsin Past: Remembering the Holocaust

Helen Bader Foundation

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