Documenting Wallenberg: An archival of Testimonials – Volunteer Guide

The purpose of the ”Documenting Wallenberg: An Archive of Testimonies” project is to conduct filmed interviews with as many survivors of the Holocaust who were saved by the Swedish diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg, as possible. With the passing of time there are less living survivors who were saved by Wallenberg so it is crucial we get their testimonies recorded now. By creating this archive of testimonies, we will be able to preserve the memory and legacy of Raoul Wallenberg for future generations to learn from and behold.

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • The Documenting Wallenberg project allows opportunities for volunteers to:
  • Conduct research and find survivors who were saved the Raoul Wallenberg.
  • Handle camera during interviews.
  • Conduct the interviews.
  • Transcribe material recorded by video to a written form.
  • Be creative! Help us in any way that would document the legacy of Raoul Wallenberg.

How to Conduct Research and Find Survivors Saved by Wallenberg:

Research on survivors saved by Wallenberg can of course be done the old fashioned way, by looking in books, databases and libraries. It is highly unlikely, however, that the location of survivors will be included in these sources. Volunteers looking for survivors in their own local communities should consider doing the following:

  • Use appeals for survivors saved by Wallenberg in different forms including a flyer, letter and press release. See attached documents, which should serve as a guide and can be edited to your liking or local situation.
  • Distribute press release to local media and local newsgroups. Focusing on Jewish media will of course increase the chance of finding a survivor.
  • Send letter to local institutions that may have relations with Holocaust survivors. These may include synagogues, Jewish community centers, Senior centers or Jewish Studies departments at local universities. You may want to try getting in touch with any Hungarian community centers or churches as well.
  • If these centers agree, then distribute a flyer and/or ask them to promote the initiative through their community board, newsletters and mailings.

How to Conduct Interviews:

The most important objective of these interviews is to capture a testimony of Wallenberg. The film need not be of Hollywood caliber. When conducting the interviews, however, it is important to consider the following:

  • Lights: Locate the camera near a window or use artificial light if necessary. Obviously we will not be using professional lighting so do your best to take advantage of the location’s light.
  • Sound: Locate the camera relatively close to the interviewee to provide an optimal sound recording. Also, try to conduct the interview in an area with minimal external noise as to provide a clean sound recording.
  • Frame: The interviewee should appear facing the interviewer, not the camera. The interviewer should not appear in the frame. At the end of the interview you may film the interviewee as they walk around their house, showing photos, documents, etc. This can be done with a handheld camera. If the interviewee does show you documents or photos, then be sure to film them for a minimum of 10 seconds each.
  • Camera: The most ideal is to use a tripod to keep the camera steady and to ensure that the interviewer’s attention is on the interview. If a tri-pod is not available, look for a steady surface such as a table of shelf to position the camera.
  • Tapes / DVDs: Interviews will normally last an hour. So when using 2 hour tapes, feel free to videotape 2 interviews on the same tape. If using Mini DVDs (usually of 30 minutes each) you will need several for each interview. Label the tapes with the name of the interviwee and its number. For example, Gabor Fishl 1/2 (tape number/total of tapes).
  • Questionnaire: The questions attached are a guide. The interview should be fluid like a conversation. In the case that new topics come to light, the interviewer should feel free to add questions, ask more details and dig into answers that are not left clear after the first response. That said, the interviewer should not press the interviewee if it becomes obvious that the interviewee does not know the answer to a question. The interviewer should move on to the following question.
  • Responses: While this may be difficult for the interviewer and interviewee alike, it is important to ask the interviewee to please repeat the question in the response. For example, if the question is ”What is your name?” then the response should be, ”My name is…” This is so that we may edit the video without having to include the question. It is equally important to ask the interviewee to refer to Raoul Wallenberg as his full name and not as ”he.” Again, this will make the film easier for editing.

How to Transcribe Interviews:

Interviews can be transcribed by the very volunteers who shot the interview or by individuals who want to or have to volunteer from home. The DVD copies of the interviews will be made available via US postal mail or for lending from our New York office at 34 East 67th Street, between the avenues Park and Madison. Once the transcript is done it can be sent to our office via e-mail. Please edit transcribed interviews to the best of your ability before sending back.

Please visit /?en/wallenberg/testimonie/ for edited transcript examples.