Júlia Vajda Totalitarianism and Holocaust Interview Collection

Language of Description
2004 - 2015
Level of Description
  • German
  • Hungarian

Extent and Medium

6 Digital container (0.01 linear meters) and 9 archival boxes (1.12 linear meters)

Archival History

Since the project was administered by Debrecen University, one copy of the material was deposited there in 2007 and another copy in Yad Vashem, Israel, in 2010. The first part of the collection was deposited to OSA in 2012. The collection has been expanding with the creation and transcription of more and more interviews.

Scope and Content

The collection originally included 334 interviews made in the frameworks of a project led by Júlia Vajda and financed by the National Research and Development Program. Currently, there are over 350 interviews and more of them are expected. The interviews were made with the narrative biographical method developed by Fritz Schütze. Besides gathering information, this interviewing method makes it possible to analyze the narration from the psychological point of view because the narration is construed by the narrator; also because the interview is not lead by the interviewer but is a free-flowing narration by the interviewee, it may serve as therapy as well, helping interviewees to overcome their trauma of the Shoah. Accordingly, there are strict rules: during the first part of the interview, the interviewee speaks freely and the interviewer cannot ask questions, only listens in a supportive way. Questions come in the second phase, concerning what has been mentioned by the interviewee, asking them to develop on issues mentioned but not fully told. The interviews were recorded, and the interviewer took notes. The interviews are transcribed word by word, with special signs marking lowered voice, repeating words, pauses, stressing certain words.

Survivors of the Shoah were reached by the researchers through institutions (Claims Conference, religious communities and other Jewish organizations) and with snowball sampling. Letters were sent out by these organizations and people willing to give an interview could contact the research group via post, e-mail, or telephone. Calls were answered by people who had given interviews earlier in the project. All persons of Jewish or Roma origin were regarded survivors who had lived in the period of the Shoah. However, eventually no Roma interviews were made. Interviewers were trained how to employ the narrative biography interviewing method elaborated by Fritz Schütze, and also were given education on Jewish religion and the history of the Shoah. Witnesses were found in the framework of another project conducted in rural communities, primarily Gönyü, Baja, Pincehely, and Dombóvár. These interviews were made with the narrative biographical method as well.

The interviewing process was administered by Judit Trombitás and Bogdan Zavalnij. The interviewers handed their material over to them, including the digitally recorded interviews, a short summary of the interview, the datasheet capturing the details of persecution and the life of the interviewee, as well as the interviewee’s statement on restriction of access and any documents, photos, or diaries donated by the interviewees. Bogdan Zavalnij also cleaned the recordings.

The overwhelming majority of the collection is digital. The first two series—interviews with Holocaust survivors and witnesses, and related material—were donated to Blinken OSA in 2012. The third series includes auxiliary material, while the fourth and fifth series contain new interviews with survivors and witnesses, and related material. In these, interviewees were found by Júlia Vajda after 2012, and the interviews were added to the collection later.

The four series of interviews are structured identically. The digital interviews and material are arranged in folders by interviewees in alphabetical order; the series of witnesses includes a summary of the interviews made in Gönyü. There are nine archival boxes in the first series, containing physical material, again arranged by interviewees in alphabetical order. The physical material include the statement of interviewees, the notebook of the interviewer, and any other documents and photographs handed over by the interviewee.


No destruction was made.



Conditions Governing Access

280 interviews and related digital files are accessible for research and education purposes. 86 interviews and archival boxes are restricted. For further information OSA Reference Service is to be contacted. Certain files/documents containing personal information (eg. statement of interviewees) are under restricted access.

Conditions Governing Reproduction

Interviews may be copied for research and educational purposes only.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Good condition. Digital sound files are mp3, WMA or WAVE, text files are pdf

Publication Note

Interviewers: Gábor Filippov, Attila Gáspár, Attila Gidó, Bori Jáki, Ferenc Kocsy, Bori Kriza, Andrea Lórántffy, Éva Matern, Júlia Mecséri, Anna Menyhárt, Szilvia Molnár, Eszter Németh, Eszter Neumann, Zsófi Pintér, Dóri Szegő, Júlia Vajda. Sound: Bogdan Zavalnij Organizers: Judit Trombitás, Bogdan Zavalnij Administration: Júlia Mecséri, Anna Menyhárt, Szilvia Molnár, Judit Trombitás Telephone contacts: János Kun, Magda Kun, Artúr Faragó, György Győri

Archivist Note

Processed by Judit Hegedűs, November, 2014. Source: OSA Catalogue (accessed 29.08.2023).

Rules and Conventions

EHRI Guidelines for Description v.1.0