By Rebecca Voisich, Library and Archives Coordinator

The Collections & Exhibitions department at the Museum is immensely grateful to the volunteers that support us and the work we do. Not only have they committed their time and efforts to the physical museum for years, they continue to support us by providing assistance remotely.

Our department currently has five active volunteers who primarily focus on writing summaries of the oral history testimonies in our collection. These summaries are extremely valuable; we use them on a daily basis to assist researchers with reference requests, and to study the context of the objects in our collection. These transcriptions and summaries of our oral testimonies ensure that the voices of Holocaust survivors continue to be heard by preserving them and making them accessible for generations to come.

We are also assisted by a volunteer Gedenkdiener through the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service. This program, also known as the Gedenkdienst, is an alternative to compulsory Austrian military service and sends young Austrians to serve at major Holocaust memorials across the world. Our current Gedenkdiener assists the department by translating German documents from our collection, which contains materials spanning 47 different languages. Many of the documents in our collection are donated without translations, and many without full context. The translation work done by our volunteers allows us to place these documents in the larger historical context wherein they originated. Thus, we are able to bring to life the stories of these objects – and the individuals to whom they belonged – in blogs, social media posts, research requests, and curated exhibitions.

To learn more about the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service and its mission, check out their webpage.

Two images below showcase documents that have been translated by our volunteers.

Sonder-Ausweis (Special Identification), Camp Westerbork
Sonder-Ausweis (Special Identification), Camp Westerbork. Gift of Betty Lenz, Yaffa Eliach Collection donated by the Center for Holocaust Studies.
Appeal to German soldiers to give themselves up as prisoners of war
Appeal to German soldiers to give themselves up as prisoners of war. Gift of Evelyn Goldberg, Yaffa Eliach Collection donated by the Center for Holocaust Studies.

Translation and transcription work is difficult, and we are grateful for the dedication and passion our volunteers have for the collection. During this difficult time of closure, the Museum is thankful for our community and support system.