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Creation of a Survivor Voice: Radio and Early Holocaust Narratives
May 14 2012


Rachel Deblinger, Ph.D. candidate, Modern European History, University of California, Los Angeles

This paper, largely based on radio broadcasts accessed through the YIVO Sound Collection, will examine eyewitness accounts of Nazi persecution as they aired on radio programs in early postwar America. The radio pieces considered varied greatly in their treatment of the Holocaust and the individual survivors they portrayed. Some programs interviewed survivors, others hired actors to dramatized wartime experiences, and some referred to survivors in efforts to advocate for changed immigration policies in America. These narratives represent an especially significant set of early Holocaust narratives because radio broadcasts reached a wide and diverse audience, revealing how survivor narratives were framed for a broad American listenership.

This study will consider how radio, as an audio medium, presented American audiences with survivor voices before many were able to address audiences in person. This work will additionally explore the relationship between Holocaust narratives and the technology at the time, recognizing that audio technologies, like the radio, allowed survivor accounts to be transported from Europe to America and edited for various purposes. The paper seeks to explain how the voiced representations of Holocaust narratives constructed an identity of Holocaust survivors in postwar America.

Creation of a Survivor Voice Audio