Sound and vision blog

Sound and moving images from the British Library

293 posts categorized "Oral history"

25 October 2023

On Pioneering Social Research

Blog written by Neli Demireva and Paul Thompson.

The Pioneering Social Research project and the 2022 book Pioneering Social Research: Life stories of a Generation (Policy press), highlight the experiences and practices of a generation of academics active from the 1950s to the 1980s in British academia and wider research scene. Based on 58 life story interviews, available through the UK Data Service and archived as the oral history collection C1416 ‘Pioneers of Social Research’ at the British Library, the book captures some of the most magical moments of research realization. Those moments may be career defining but we also do not shy away from discussions of strife, of conflict, of struggle and acceptance. There is no satisfactory way in which a conventional sample of ‘pioneer’ social researchers could be created. To be recorded among our pioneers implies in itself some kind of success story in research: first and foremost in terms of intellectual discovery and influence, however also linked to taking a key position in the academic world and achieving, in Colin Bell’s (C1416/34) words, ‘a degree of celebrity’. The oldest interviewee, Raymond Firth (C1416/25), was born in 1901 and is exceptional in already being an active researcher in the interwar years. The youngest interviewee was born in 1949, Sara Arber (C1416/58), and all had begun their research careers by the 1970s. They had mainly made their key contributions by the 1980s, but several continued publishing into the 2000s. Altogether, 33 are with sociologists –most of whom first trained in other disciplines, especially anthropology –and 14 with lifelong anthropologists. There are also three interviewees from politics, two each from geography and economics, another two from statistics, and one from cultural studies. These are essentially British pioneers, although they worked worldwide.

The book cover for the book WebPioneering Social Research - Life Stories of a Generation

On the practical side, the book and the oral history interviews can be seen as an example of ‘owning up’ – a set of illustrious researchers and academics take the reader or listener through their experiences of the research process. The book illustrates how empirical social research was conducted and given shape in mid-twentieth century Britain. Our Pioneers carried out much major work in terms of class, gender and ethnicity and the book captures something of the social and cultural contexts in which they worked and the dilemmas they faced. Thus, one should be able to open the book and read both about how David Butler (C1416/44) ‘finds his voice’ on TV, of the time Peter Townsend (C1416/23) spends working in a retirement institution while at the same time to get a feel, of the difficult time Ann Oakley (C1416/01) has in embarking on her PhD studies. 

Peter Townsend on Bath Attendant (C1416-23)

Download Peter Townsend on Bath Attendant (C1416-23) Transcript

Ann Oakley on The Parental Ethos (C1416-01)

Download Ann Oakley on The Parental Ethos (C1416-01) Transcript

The book and the oral history collection do have weaknesses with which we have explicitly engaged. Our 58 interviewees cannot be taken as ‘representative’ of a wider scholarly pool. They are unique cases, and there are many other researchers who if alive and willing could easily have been included, and some who may have made even greater contributions and told very different stories. Inevitably, some key researchers had already died before we could record them. We miss especially the stories which we might have had from Richard Titmuss (d. 1973), Max Gluckman (d. 1975), John Rex (d. 2011), Edward Shils (d. 1995) and Cathie Marsh (d. 1993). We cannot be sure of the memories of our tellers; like almost all historical sources, whether created in the past or subsequently, what they say sometimes may be factually incorrect. Regardless, they represent important historical sources of how the interviewees remember and retell their life stories. The Pioneers of Social Research collection is very much a living thing, and we are indeed adding to the pool of interviewees this year.

Crucially, however, the book and collection demonstrate how the Pioneers responded to challenges – personal and academic. These are very intimate stories, one that we hope the reader or listener will not rush through but will cherish and savour. The Pioneers were resilient, but above all, they proved to have the creative ability to turn the problems upside down and use them to develop their own thinking. In this, future generations can really find a rich source of inspiration – one that will continue to inform beyond the lifetime of the interviewees in this project. Our dear friend and co-author Ken Plummer (C1416/48) passed away last year and we cherish the ability to hear his warm and lively voice speaking his own life story of discovering his own sexuality, and developing a new field and establishing the journal Sexualities as well as struggling to cope with the pain of HIV research. All these recordings are available at the British library reading rooms in London and Boston Spa, as well as at the UK Data Service in Essex. We hope that many readers of ‘this lovely book’, as Mike Savage calls it, will similarly enjoy learning more about the Pioneers and will engage with their work, both the written publication and the full life story interviews.

Pioneers of Social Research can be found by searching C1416 at http://sami.bl.uk and can be listened to at the British Library reading rooms in St Pancras, London and Boston Spa, Yorkshire. For more information on similar collections please consult the collection guide 'Oral histories of social policy'.

Neli Demireva is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Essex. Her research interests include migration, inter-ethnic ties, social cohesion, ethnic penalties and multiculturalism. She uses a variety of methods in her research, both quantitative and qualitative, and believes strongly in mixing methods to uncover the ‘deep stories’ of sociology.

Paul Thompson is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex. He is Founder-Editor of Oral History and Founder of National Life Stories at the British Library. He is a pioneer of oral history in Europe and author of the international classic The Voice of the Past (4th edition 2017). His other books include The Edwardians and Living the Fishing. He is co-author of Growing Up in Stepfamilies, of The Myths We Live By (with Raphael Samuel), and (with Daniel Bertaux) Pathways to Social Class.

Ken Plummer (1946-2022) was Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex. He researched and wrote widely on sexuality, especially lesbian, gay and queer studies. His methodological concerns were with the development of narrative, life story, symbolic interactionism and the post-modern turn.

23 October 2023

Akyaaba Addai-Sebo on founding UK Black History Month

Guest blog by Rosa Kurowska Kyffin, interviewer for National Life Stories.

Akyaaba Addai-Sebo standing in front of the doors to the King's Library with the books in view behind him. Akyaaba Addai-Sebo standing in front of the King's Library at the British Library, St Pancras.

Earlier this summer the British Library recorded a life story interview with Akyaaba Addai-Sebo for the National Life Stories oral history collection Leaders of National Life. This in-depth interview covers his influential work as a campaigner and activist across three continents. From trade union organising in newly independent Ghana to his years in the US in the 1970s, where he studied peace-building in Washington and became close with many civil rights activists of the time, including Kwame Ture, Jewell Mazique and CLR James, who became a lifelong friend and mentor. The interview also covers his later peace-building work in Liberia and Sierra-Leone and environmental campaigning. In the UK Akyaaba has had a fundamental impact on politics and culture as one of the founders of the UK’s Black History Month. These clips explore the origins of this month, which today is as vital a part of autumn as the cooler days and bright colours of the turning leaves.

As a young child Akyaaba quickly developed a deep understanding of the impact of politics. In 1957 when Akyaaba was just seven years old, Kwame Nkrumah led Ghana to independence from British colonial rule and established one of the first post-colonial governments in Africa. Caught up in the ‘dynamism of the times’, Akyaaba spent his childhood observing the rallies and activism of his community: a close-knit, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic compound in Asawase, one of many new projects built by the socialist Nkrumah government. His early political memories are of excitement and promise, but these hopes were soon dashed as the backlash of the European powers began. One of Akyaaba’s early memories was the assassination of Patrice Lumumba which he describes here.

Akyaaba Addai-Sebo recalls his earliest memory of political consciousness [BL REF C408/37]

Download Transcript – Akyaaba Addai-Sebo recalls an early memory of political consciousness

This incident and the betrayals that followed as later coups in Ghana took Nkrumah from power forged a powerful activist in Akyaaba, who has led a life dedicated to confronting injustice. As a child he was also frustrated by his experiences of education in the British colonial system, where he studied European classics, religion, geography and literature rather than his own region’s culture and history. He recognised the importance of the few teachers who went against this system. Later as a teenager he saw the importance of finding ‘cultural synergy’ though learning about Ghanaian and African culture and history in Nkrumah’s Young Pioneers and the Pan-African Youth Movement. In the US he also saw the impact of what was then called Negro History Week for African Americans, and the beginnings of the campaign to rename the period as Black History Month which is still celebrated there in February. In the US he became involved in delivering workshops in Washington libraries and museums and spoke at celebrations of African Liberation Day in Malcolm X Park.

His activism eventually took him back to Ghana and later to London, where he found safety having narrowly escaped persecution under the Jerry Rawlings regime in 1984. Through CLR James he became involved with a powerful group of activists based in Railton Road, Brixton, including Leila Hassan Howe, Darcus Howe and the Race Today collective. At the same time Akyaaba had started working at the Greater London Council (GLC). At the time the GLC was a place of pioneering social policy under the leadership of Ken Livingstone, as was the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA), whose deputy leader Bernard Wiltshire Akyaaba worked closely with. The stewardship of Linda Bellos, Chair of the London Strategic Policy Committee (LSPC) and leader of Lambeth Council, and John McDonnell, Chief Executive of the Association of London Authorities (ALA), became crucial after the abolition of the GLC by the Margaret Thatcher government on 1 April 1986. It was an exciting time to be working in local government. With his boss and friend Ansel Wong, Akyaaba worked in the Ethnic Minorities Unit and it was there in the office that a chance encounter with a colleague set in motion the inspiration for Black History Month in the UK.

Akyaaba Addai-Sebo on the inspiration for UK Black History Month [BL REF C408/37]

Download Transcript – Akyaaba Addai-Sebo on the inspiration for UK Black History Month

In both the US and the UK Akyaaba had seen the impact that this lack of ‘cultural synergy’ was having on Black children and their families. He was shocked that here in the UK – the ‘mother of imperialism’ – that there was so little understanding of African history and civilisation. To rectify the damage done to children like Marcus and to eliminate the odious racism that plagued the UK Akyaaba worked hard to establish Black History Month. Here he recalls some of the conversations that fed into the founding of Black History Month, and why the choice of October is so significant.

Akyaaba Addai-Sebo explains why October was chosen as Black History Month [BL REF C408/37]

Download Transcript – Akyaaba Addai-Sebo explains why October was chosen as Black History Month

Akyaaba built support from all political parties, a process which his time in the US civil rights movement had prepared him well for. The UK’s first Black History Month events began with a series of historical talks and events in London in 1986 to which people ‘came in droves.’ Those events have now grown to become an integral part of the year with countless events happening across October and beyond across the whole country.

Rosa and Akyaaba standing on the terrace at the British Library, St Pancras

Rosa Kurowska Kyffin with Akyaaba Addai-Sebo at the British Library, St Pancras.

Akyaaba Addai-Sebo was interviewed by Rosa Kurowska Kyffin in 2023 for Leaders of National Life. The interview will be available to listen to at the British Library in early 2024, collection reference number C408/37.

16 October 2023

Recording of the week: South Asian history and medical practices in Britain

Black and white illustration of Mahomed's Baths from 1826. The building is on the waterfront, with writing on the side advertising 'Original medicated shampooing' and 'hot cold douch & shower'. There are people and carriages in the street, and ships on the water in the distance.
Mahomed's Baths from 1826. Alamy.


The NHS as we know it today has been built – and continues to be sustained – by migrant contributions. South Asians have played a major role in this. But did you know that we can place South Asians in the medical profession in Britain long before the NHS was formed? In fact, in this oral history clip from the Millennium Memory Bank (BBC) you can hear Bari Chohan describe how his family arrived in England in the 1870s, having practiced homeopathy and ophthalmology on the subcontinent. They then opened a series of medical clinics in various cities throughout the UK, including in Brighton, Harrogate, Sheffield, Bradford and Manchester. It was Bari’s great uncle Dr Chirag Din who practiced in Harrogate in the early 1920s. He later married his colleague and practice nurse, Florence, moving to her hometown of Middlesbrough, where he settled.

Listen to Bari Chohan interviewed by Neil Gander © BBC

Download Bari Chohan extract transcript

South Asians have not only been in Britain for a long period of time – longer than common perception – but they have been circulating within professional and community networks, actively shaping the island nation we know today. Remaking Britain: South Asian Connections and Networks, 1830s to the present is a new research project that sheds light on this British history.

The project will reveal stories like Bari’s in a new digital resource, exploring the significance of South Asian people and communities as agents of change to Britain's cultural, economic, political and social life from the period of empire in the 1830s to the present. The project team will conduct their own oral history interviews, in collaboration with The British Library, as well as showcase testimonies collected during other projects. This will be in conjunction with archival research. Remaking Britain is an AHRC-funded research project led by the University of Bristol and Queen Mary University of London in partnership with the British Library.

We’d love to hear from anyone who has oral history collections on South Asians in Britain, expressions of interest in oral history participation, or any information relating to the rich history of South Asians in Britain from the 1830s to the present. You can find more information on our website or contact us on email: [email protected] 

Bari's interview (reference C900/01572) was recorded in 1999 by Neil Gander for BBC Radio as part of the ground-breaking BBC and British Library Millennium Memory Bank project which explored British life at the end of the 20th century. The Millennium Memory Bank holds over 5,000 oral histories recorded by local and national BBC radio stations, from which each participating station broadcast a series of programmes on 16 common themes. All of the full unedited recordings and the subsequent programmes are archived and made available at the British Library. The collection is copyright of the BBC.

This week's recording of the week was written by Dr. Maya Parmar, Research Fellow for Remaking Britain, Queen Mary University of London. 

11 September 2023

Recording of the week: Memories of school

As September starts in the northern hemisphere, for me (and I suspect many others) this means one thing - 'back to school'. This could be both memories of one's own school days, or the relief as a parent or carer that ordinary term time routines can resume. From my childhood I think of the restrictive feeling of school shoes on my feet, the formality of school uniform, the confines of the classroom and - for those of us for whom school was a mostly happy experience - the reunion with classmates after a long summer break.

Almost all of the oral history interviews in the British Library’s vast collection cover educational experience - as it is a foundational era in most lives. This means we have myriad accounts that explore a variety of time periods, educational establishments, social experiences, teaching methods and learning styles through personal testimony.  

A great example is from the interview with Elisabeth Standen (1944-2020): a writer, community organiser and consultant on disability and equalities. It was common in the 1950s for children with disabilities to attend specialist boarding schools, even if their parents wanted them at home - as was the case with Elisabeth.

In this recording, made in 1999 with Helen Lloyd, Elisabeth describes bedtimes at her first boarding school, Exhall Grange in Warwickshire. When she was a few years older than the period she recounts in this clip, Elisabeth describes how she became blind, which to me makes the detailed visual description in this interview even more compelling. Close your eyes, listen to Elisabeth and see if you can picture the school setting and bedroom she describes.

Photo of Elisabeth Standen

Listen to Elisabeth Standen interviewed by Helen Lloyd

Download Transcript of Elisabeth Standen interviewed by Helen Lloyd

If you want to hear more about experiences of home and the sounds of domestic life, dip into 'If homes had ears' a rich resource of over 70 audio clips explored in themed essays. This resource was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of 'Unlocking Our Sound Heritage.'

Elisabeth's interview (reference C900/18556) was recorded in 1999 by Helen Lloyd for BBC Radio as part of the ground-breaking BBC and British Library Millennium Memory Bank project which explored British life at the end of the 20th century. The Millennium Memory Bank holds over 5,000 oral histories recorded by local and national BBC radio stations, from which each participating station broadcast a series of programmes on 16 common themes. All of the full unedited recordings and the subsequent programmes are archived and made available at the British Library.

This Recording of the Week is by Mary Stewart, Lead Curator of Oral History. 

04 September 2023

Recording of the week: Architect Kate Macintosh discusses Dawson's Heights in East Dulwich

Dawson's Heights

In my spare time I have often pondered what would count as the ‘Seven Wonders of South London’. The Catford Cat and the Croydon IKEA towers no doubt, but the Crystal Palace transmitter and the Crystal Palace dinosaurs? And how do you separate the component parts of Greenwich?

For this blog I asked some friends and got a wide range of answers including (in alphabetical order): Borough Market, Camberwell Submarine, Cross Bones Graveyard, Crossness Pumping Station, Croydon Boxpark, Cutty Sark, Great Pagoda at Kew Gardens, Horniman Museum Walrus, London Eye, Mandela Way T-34 Tank, Millennium Dome, Nunhead Cemetery and the Richmond Park deer.

Regardless, in my own list I would make a case for Dawson's Heights in East Dulwich, designed by the architect Kate Macintosh. Dawson's Heights was built between 1968 and 1972, at the start of Macintosh's career but towards the end of the post-war boom in council house building. The estate sits atop a large hill and is visible from many directions; it’s for this reason that of the approximately 300 flats, two thirds were designed with views in both directions and all with views to the north. To do this Macintosh used a ziggurat scheme and, if nothing else, Dawson’s Heights must certainly have introduced many people to the word ziggurat.

Kate Macintosh was interviewed by Geraint Franklin in 2016 for the National Life Stories oral history project Architects' Lives. The interview is over 22 hours long and contains fascinating insights into her various works, including, of course, Dawson’s Heights. What I found particularly interesting was Macintosh’s description of how she deliberately based her designs for the estate on the ‘advantages’ and ‘specificities’ of the site, particularly the ‘stupendous views’. It’s this that led to her design winning out in an internal competition that had been arranged by Southwark Borough Architect and Planner, Frank Hayes.

Listen to Kate Macintosh

Download Kate Macintosh interview transcript

At later points in the interview Macintosh goes further into the inspirations for Dawson’s Heights, including Park Hill in Sheffield and Michael Young and Peter Willmott’s seminal sociological study, ‘Family and Kinship in East London’ – you can find oral histories with Michael Young by searching C1416/17 and C408/012 on our catalogue. Macintosh also describes how she built a model of the site to present at Hayes’ internal competition. Today you don’t need to do that yourself, Dawson’s Heights is so renowned that you can buy paper kits online and build your own miniature estate.

Kate Macintosh’s full life story interviewed can be listened to online at British Library sounds. The recording in the blog was edited from Part 9 of 17. The interview can be found in the Sound and Moving Image catalogue by searching C467/132 on our catalogue.

Today's selection comes from Charlie Morgan, Archivist, Oral History.

14 August 2023

Recording of the week: 40 Days and 40 Nights

Image containing a partially obscured face
Photo by Elias Maurer on Unsplash.

Three years ago the UK was emerging from the first of its three national lockdowns, imposed by the government in an effort to curtail the spread of Covid-19. In March 2020, BBC Radio 4’s PM programme launched Covid Chronicles, inviting listeners to submit accounts of their lockdown and pandemic experiences. Some of these submissions were broadcast on the programme, and the full collection has found a home at the British Library.

One of these submissions – ’40 Days and 40 Nights’ by Becky Clayton – is a humorous creative story, exploring the negative and positive effects of the lockdown from the perspective of a narrator in conversation with her housemate, Satan. Whilst Satan gleefully describes the chaos and destruction wrought by the pandemic, the narrator argues that a lot of good has come out of the lockdowns too, much to Satan’s annoyance.

Listen to Becky Clayton

Download 40 Days and 40 Nights transcript

Content warning: this audio clip contains strong language and adult themes.

Becky Clayton submitted this recording to BBC Radio 4 for the PM programme’s Covid Chronicles segment. The full Covid Chronicles collection will be available at the British Library later in 2023.

Becky’s story features as a collection item on the British Library’s Covid stories web resource. The resource offers insights into the Covid-19 pandemic from a multitude of perspectives, as documented in the many Covid collections now archived at the British Library. The resource features eight articles on a range of topics, from the experiences of NHS staff and patients to the impact of the pandemic on young people and communities. Becky’s creative story features in the article ‘Creative responses to the Covid-19 pandemic’, authored by Dr Ernesto Priego.

This week’s selection comes from Madeline White, Curator of Oral History.

19 June 2023

Recording of the week: Windrush Voices

For this week’s ‘Recording of the Week’ the Library’s Schools Team celebrates Windrush Day.

Windrush Day is this week on June 22nd, the date in 1948 when the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury.  This week, and all year round, the British Library Schools Team run a session that looks at the some of the personal stories of the Windrush Generation.  ‘Windrush Voices’ engages GCSE and A-Level students with oral history recordings and written sources to offer a different perspective to that found in textbooks.  Our session uses testimony from a wide range of the Library’s oral history collections.  Learners can hear the voices of people including educator and writer Beryl Gilroy, novelist Andrea Levy and photographer Vanley Burke.

My favourite recording though comes from, appropriately enough, An Oral History of Oral Histories.  It is a 2012 recording of Donald Hinds by Robert Wilkinson, and all 38 parts of it are available in the Sounds Collection.

Red double decker bus in London

A photograph of a London bus.

Donald, who died in March this year aged 89, was a writer, journalist, historian and teacher.  Listening to his recordings you get the impression of an incredibly clever man, sharp, interested in everything and with a very wry sense of humour.  Even when describing some very difficult subjects you feel an amused laugh is not far away.

Listen to Donald Hinds talking about being a bus conductor

Download Donald Hinds (bus conductor) transcript

Listen to Donald Hinds talking about being a history teacher

Download Donald Hinds (teacher) transcript

We use two clips of Donald, which you can listen to here, one about his experiences as a Bus Conductor and one about his experiences as a History Teacher.  So what do we get our learners to do with these recordings?  If you’d like, why not try yourself?

Read the transcript of each clip and think about what stands out for you from what Donald is saying.  Then listen, ideally twice, to the clips.  Think about whether something different stands out now and why?  With learners we delve into the power of the voice and the layers of understanding this can add to what is being said.

Did something different stand out for you?  It certainly does for us.  We find learners are often surprised by Donald’s wry detachment when recounting his stories, and a sense he is self-editing his account.  I’d really like to question Donald more about Sid Norris.  There seems so much more there he is not telling us.  As with many of the clips we use, racism is ever present in Donald’s experiences.  You do get the sense of a man who refused to be cowed by it at any point.

As an amazing History teacher himself, we think that it is fitting that Donald Hinds voice continues to be heard by young people studying the history of the Windrush Generation.

Today's post was written by Kate Fowler, Learning Facilitator.

27 March 2023

Recording of the week: Peter Rickenback on being a fugitive in Europe

The British Library recently launched a new online learning resource, Voices of the Holocaust, as part of Unlocking Our Sound Heritage. The new website features a curated selection of audio clips, pulled mainly from four collections of oral history interviews with Holocaust survivors held at the British Library’s sound archive. Alongside the interview extracts, the resource features biographies of the interviewees as well as historical context provided through themes and articles.

Many audio clips featured in the new Voices of the Holocaust learning resource speak to how difficult it was to escape Nazi-occupied countries and find a new home. In an interview with Herbert Levy, Peter Rickenback speaks about leaving Nazi Germany and spending several years travelling Europe and beyond, bouncing from job to job to evade immigration authorities returning him to Nazi Germany as an illegal immigrant.

Until 1941, official Nazi policy was to encourage Jewish people to emigrate, but they made it incredibly difficult and dangerous to do so. Throughout the 1930s, the Nazis enacted over 400 antisemitic laws that systematically impoverished and restricted the lives of Jewish people. The ‘Decree on the Registration of Jewish Property’ forced them to surrender their property to the state, and the ‘Reich Flight Tax’ taxed them heavily for attempting to emigrate. Numerous laws also prevented Jewish people from earning a living: in 1933 they were excluded from government roles, in 1936 Jewish teachers were banned from schools, and in 1938 the ‘Decree on the Exclusion of Jews from German Economic Life’ closed all Jewish-owned businesses. On top of this, other countries’ immigration policies were unforgiving. For a visa, some required immigrants to secure a sponsor, pay hefty fees, and queue up on a daily basis to retrieve multiple documents, all under threat of public harassment and abuse.

In the mid-1930s, Peter Rickenback’s family struggled financially under the conditions in Nazi Germany, and were not able to emigrate together. He was able to leave on his own after being offered a hotel catering job in Sweden on a training permit. After his permit expired, Peter and his family exhausted all of their resources keeping him out of Germany for several years. His father helped him to get a work permit for France where he had a series of hotel jobs. Whilst there, he met two English men who offered him a job and permanent residence in Britain. In this clip, he talks about his attempt to get to Britain and take up this opportunity.

Listen to Peter Rickenback discuss being a fugitive in Europe

Download Peter Rickenback transcript

Photo of Peter Rickenback - copyright USC Shoah Foundation

Above: Peter Rickenback. Photo copyright © USC Shoah Foundation.

As he describes, the laws changed before he arrived in Folkestone, making his paperwork insufficient and requiring him to return and apply for a visa. This sent him back to Boulogne, where he was warned he would be in danger, and from there he fled to Paris and then to the Netherlands with a forged work permit. After police caught up with him, Peter got a job on a boat to West Africa, which eventually returned to Hamburg. Once there, it was too dangerous for Peter to get off the boat, but the Gestapo gave permission for Peter’s family to board for an hour, where he was able to meet with his parents one last time. He was forcibly returned to the Netherlands, and during his time there, his father helped him to get an affidavit for entry into the United States. Peter appealed to the Jewish Aid Committee to get a transit visa to Britain, and received some help from his employer to pay for it. He arrived in Britain two weeks before the start of the war, and settled there. His sister was able to get to Britain on a domestic work permit, but his parents stayed in Germany and did not survive.

Peter’s story is one of many that reveal just how difficult it was for Jewish people to escape the Nazi regime for good. This collection item is featured in the new Voices of the Holocaust online resource, which includes 87 clips from oral history interviews with Holocaust survivors and Jewish refugees, contextual articles, and biographies of the interviewees.

This week's post comes from Georgia Dack, Web Content Developer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage.

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