Lost Holocaust survivor songs discovered in University of Akron archives

Lost Holocaust survivor songs discovered in University of Akron archives

Songs recorded by Holocaust survivors have been discovered

Monday, February 6, 2017

A series of songs recorded by Holocaust survivors have been discovered by chance at a university in Ohio.

The Henonville Songs were recorded in Yiddish and German at a refugee camp in the aftermath of the Second World War. Previously thought to have been lost forever, they were in fact lying in a mislabeled canister.

In 1946 psychologist David Boder interviewed at least 130 Jewish survivors in nine languages, as well as recording religious services and song sessions on a wire recorder.

Part of the work, which documents some of the first oral histories of concentration camp survivors, has been kept at the Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology at the University of Akron, near Cleveland, since 1967.

A project has recently begun to digitize the audio in the collection, and this led to the uncovering of the Henonville Songs.

Doctor David Baker, from the University of Akron, said: "I think it is one of the most important discoveries from our collections in our 50-year history.

"The songs were recorded at a refugee camp in Henonville, France. The Nazis made the prisoners sing some of these songs as they ran to their forced labor sites and back each day."

The centre has now given a digitized copy to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington for its collection.

Multimedia producer Jon Endres who helped to digitize the audio said: "It felt like I was helping in some way to bring these voices to the present, voices that had become somewhat lost to the historical record."