Bearing Witness to the Holocaust:  How the First Video Archive of Holocaust Testimonies was Established

By Stephen Mayer


    This web page tells the story of the first efforts some twenty years ago to videotape Holocaust survivors recollecting their experiences.  On their own initiative and without any outside support, Laurel Vlock and Dr. Dori Laub taped the testimonies of four survivors.  From this inconspicuous beginning, which revolutionized the act of witnessing by providing "demeanor evidence," arose such projects as the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University and the Shoah Visual History Foundation.  The essay presented here tells how Ms. Vlock and Dr. Laub came to their collaboration.  Further, it explores the unique contributions that have been made to our understanding of this horrific episode in world history by courageous individuals who have come forward to tell their stories. 

Stephen Mayer 

     Stephen Mayer, the author of Bearing Witness to the Holocaust: How the First Video Archive of Holocaust Testimonies was Established, is the son of a Holocaust survivor and the namesake of two great uncles who perished.  Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1947, he earned a B.A. in English and German at Tufts University and a Ph.D. in English at Yale University.  He has taught English and is currently a free-lance editor. 
Biographical Information: 
-Laurel Vlock 
-Dori Laub