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Participants were invited to give spontaneous accounts of events in the French environmental movement. Their memories were recorded and archived. Green politicians were asked to recall the occupation of the Danube's Hainburger Au wetlands, a conflict that was decisive for the founding of the party in The first two contributions focus on biographical and thematic interviews with women and men from the environmental, peace and women's movements who played prominent roles in the formative and early stages of Green parties and belong to the generation of founding members.

The recording of these personal memories is intended to contribute to historical education and to the historiography of the respective Green parties associated with the archives. A further objective of the interviews is to close gaps in written records and answer content-related questions. It can thus provide researchers with new source material.

A wide range of methods are used in conducting interviews and processing the material to ensure its long-term availability and use. I'd like to read this book on Kindle Don't have a Kindle?

Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. There's a problem loading this menu right now. Learn more about Amazon Prime. Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime. Get to Know Us. English Choose a language for shopping. Later, when I went to the social security office, I was told that I had worked for the Germans.

I am suffering terribly from this. Yes, I am even scared to remember these things. Were we criminals in any way? Nevertheless, these millions of Soviet citizens who had lived in occupied territory avoided to speak openly about their war experiences for decades. The families often were the only place where these things could be addressed. Many interviews give evidence that memories were passed on in the families from generation to generation.

These stories were not to be told outside of the narrow private family circle, as one interviewee reported:. My grandmother always raised us to keep silent about the things which were spoken about at home. That is what she taught us. She was a very smart woman. For the first time, Stalinist crimes could be researched and discussed. Several interviewees thus mentioned that they had only recently learned about them, and they incorporated this new knowledge in their accounts. Furthermore it might be of importance that the interview project coincided with the German Forced Labour Compensation Programmme during the years As a result, former forced labourers were for the first time acknowledged as victims of National Socialism in their homeland societies.

Numerous memoirs in prose or verse by former Ostarbeiter were published and theatre plays on the topic performed in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. At the same time, it must be noted that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, many elderly people in Ukraine suffered from poverty and very hard economic conditions. Telling about the past often proceeds from an individual need for identity building.


Again, the interview practice shows that in the countries of the former Soviet Union the situation seems to be special. Interviewees often recalled events that were not mentioned in Soviet historiography and official Soviet memory culture at all. More often than not, there exist no archival documents on these facts. Some accounts are in keeping with the new post-Soviet Ukrainian historiography, which after the collapse of the Soviet Union initiated a comprehensive revision of Soviet historiography, especially with regard to Stalinist crimes.

However, the accounts sometimes come onto aspects of the history of the occupation that are still tabooed in Ukrainian historiography, as for example the question of collaboration. In these cases the interviews represent an impressive counter-narrative to the official version. This narrative has partly been passed on by family memory to the next generation. Memories which conflict with official memory are often confined to the privacy of family. But they still show the inner limits of totalitarian regimes.

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As Aleida Assmann has noted quite judiciously, positivistic historiography reaches its limits where archival resources are lacking, and here oral testimonies can help overcome these boundaries. According to the official Soviet version, the city was captured on 26 October after several days of serious street battles, in which more than 50, German soldiers were captured, killed or injured. Contrary to that, several former citizens of Stalino reported in their interviews that the city was captured by the Germans on 20 October and almost without a fight.

This version is confirmed by German documents. They had been sentenced to prison under the Stalinist labour discipline law.

Denunciation - Oral History - Nazis Warning from History

All these prisoners were shot by the NKVD during retreat. Other interviewees reported about the planned destruction of the coal mines:. They came to blow up the mine. A command of sappers arrived and they blasted away at the mine. At that time people ran to the mine, everybody came to the mine. What shall we live on? You will leave and what shall we live on? But then there was an encirclement. All the people were dispersed, the mine was blown up and two days later the Germans arrived.

Projects dealing with Oral History

The burning of the grain was perceived by many interviewees as a symbol of the fact that the population was virtually left to its own devices and exposed to hunger and starvation. The Soviet side on its part had always emphasized the large-scale destruction wreaked by the Germans during their retreat from Donbass two years later. We will also analyze how respondents depicted the Germans and local collaborators. This is for example expressed in statements like: I remember every single day.

My God, what a horrible time it was! Many interviewees remembered the first names of Germans they came into contact with. Others could still recall German songs which they learned from the occupiers, and sometimes started to sing them during the interview. According to the sociologist Karl Mannheim, the experiences of human beings between the age of 12 and 25 remain constitutional for the whole process of personality shaping.

Therefore, members of a historical generation share a common identity with regard to convictions, attitudes, worldviews, social values and cultural patterns of interpretation. Moreover, it must be taken into account that for decades, most of the interviewees had had no opportunity to process their wartime experiences or to talk openly and publicly about them. This, too, might possibly explain the generally significant importance of that time period for the interviewees and their strong wish to talk about it.

For the former stigmatized groups such as forced labourers, telling about their past fulfilled functions of social acknowledgement as victims of National Socialism, as one former Ostarbeiter recalled:. Now we are acknowledged by everybody. This year, our raion celebrated its 85th anniversary. We were invited to the celebration. I addressed the audience, spoke about Germany. With tears in my eyes, I expressed thanks for being accepted into society. Before that, it was as if we were not part of it. Several former Ostarbeiter recalled that they experienced jealousy and resentment from their neighbours, especially from those who lived under German occupation and did not receive any compensation.

The payment programmes thus created new social tensions and competition among the war generation. Many elderly people are still convinced that most Ostarbeiter went to Germany voluntarily. When we analyzed the interviews, we sometimes noted huge differences in content and form between the narratives. For instance, the narratives of former members of resistance movements, who already in Soviet times could at least partly talk about their war experiences publicly, often seemed to follow a certain pattern.

We got the impression that these interviewees had repeated their narratives many times, for example in forms of ritualized public accounts for school children or inside their former resistance circle. In contrast with the stories of other groups of the war generation, theirs were to a great extent part of the official Soviet memory culture. Frequent repetition had given these memories a more stable form and structure. Even in post-Soviet times, the partisans and resistance fighters still perpetuate their old Soviet memory narratives, which seemingly form a strong part of their identity.

Compared to this, the narratives of other interviewees, non-resisters, appeared to be much more open, fragmentary and fragile and did not follow these patterns. In some cases, those witnesses had the possibility to formulate a coherent narrative of their life experiences for the first time. Surprisingly, in both cases the accounts were sometimes accompanied by emotional outbreaks.

Some of the interviewees described the feeling of being at the absolute mercy of the occupying Germans: We had no rights or laws.

The Germans were the masters and absolute rulers. And we were slaves, real slaves. In several respects, the experience of work was crucial in building the identity — and loyalty — of the population before, during and after the German occupation. Under German rule, about 90, Soviet coal miners and 20, Soviet prisoners of war worked under the supervision of 1, German mining specialists in the Donbass coal mines.

Apart from that, more than , Ostarbeiter were deported to Germany. Experiences at the workplace were quite different. Working together, local workers and German supervisors sometimes even formed friendly relations, as a former coal miner recalled:.

Experiences in Oral History | Heinrich Böll Foundation

Our Germans were coal miners. These Germans, who worked together with us miners, did no harm to anybody. Because they understood us and even told us that they were workers just like we were. Other interviewees remembered the brutality of German supervisors and their contemptuous treatment of the workers, as for example a woman who worked in the coal mines as a year old girl and was publicly beaten by a German supervisor for leaving work without permission.

This is due to the fact that the execution of Soviet prisoners of war took place in the Donbass on a much larger scale and during a longer time period and was quite visible to the local population. According to reports of the Extraordinary Commission, around , Soviet prisoners of war died in German camps in the Donbass.

The number of Jewish victims in the Donbass was considerably smaller and accounted for approximately 18, according to estimates. The prisoners of war died from hunger and in the open air […] At that time, seeing this, people understood who the Germans were and how they behaved. Here they showed their real essence. Officially it was not allowed to help the prisoners of war […] but the people threw whatever they could behind the barbed-wire fence. They drove them away from the fence, beat and humiliated them.

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It seems to us, however, that the narratives may have fulfilled another purpose, that of helping postwar society compensate for subconscious feelings of guilt. In this respect, the Soviet prisoner of war motive bears several parallels with the widespread German accounts about the sandwiches that the German population allegedly gave to the deported Ostarbeiter. Nevertheless, some locals helped Jews by hiding them in their homes.

Some openly hated them [the Jews], others remained silent. Well, firstly not everybody knew about it [the execution of Jews]. But others mourned because they were human beings. It was rather varied. As a result, the dark side of that period is excluded from the national narrative, and so is the rescue of numerous Jews by their courageous Ukrainian neighbours. In this respect, Ukrainian public memory culture seems, at least to some extent, to perpetuate old Soviet remembrance policies which suppressed the Jewish memory of the Holocaust. Even though racism, cruelty and a feeling of superiority were common characterizations of the Germans in many interviews, we also heard many stories about German soldiers who provided locals with food, showed them photographs of their children or gave Christmas presents to them.

When the army units moved further on, farewell photographs were taken and local women cried.

Others remembered cultural experiences with German cinema — Soviet people often perceived the German entertainment films as immoral.