Marquette University News Release

Marquette Libraries release digital transcripts of Memories of Pre-Holocaust Europe interviews

August 31, 2011

MILWAUKEE — The Marquette University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections has released the digital collection “I’ll Tell You a Story”: Memories of Pre-Holocaust Europe. The collection comprises 25 full-text transcripts from analog tape-recorded interviews seeking to document Jewish life and culture in the early 20th century.

The in-depth interviews were originally conducted in 1983 by a group of volunteers from The Generation After, an organization of children of Holocaust survivors. Dr. Michael Phayer, retired professor of German history at Marquette, provided training and guidance for the project.

The volunteers conducted 65 interviews in the Milwaukee metropolitan area, asking interviewees about family life, childrearing practices, religious traditions and holidays, social customs, education, anti-Semitism, and the Zionist movement.

“Although all subjects were survivors of the Nazi death camps, these 1983 interviews centered on the richness of Jewish life in Europe during the 1920s and ’30s,” said Matt Blessing, library archivist. Additional interviews will be transcribed as financial support is secured.

More than 1,000 Holocaust survivors settled in Wisconsin, most immigrating during the late 1940s and early ’50s. Survivors were from across Europe, although a large percentage of interview subjects were of Polish origin.

Early in 2012, the online transcripts will also be accessible via Wisconsin Heritage Online, an electronic portal featuring content from Wisconsin libraries, archives, museums and historical societies.

Questions about the project may be directed to Matt Blessing at (414) 288-7256 or Read more at

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