Audio Reviews
Holocaust Voices on CD

Review: By Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles

School children ask Siegfried (Siggy) Halbreich, "Do you have nightmares?" He answers, "Nightmares, dreams, I never do, because I live with it, day and night."

The testimony of the 90-year-old Los Angeles resident, who survived five years in six concentration camps, is among those of 180 men and women interviewed in the United States, Canada and England and heard in a unique, four-hour oral history, "Voices of the Shoah: Remembrance of the Holocaust."

In a five-year project, the poignant stories of the survivors, from their early childhoods to old age, have been collected in a four-volume box set, available in both CD and audio cassette.

Rhino Records, which describes the sets as the first-ever audio documentary of the Holocaust, will release them on March 14, with narration by actor Elliott Gould. All proceeds are to be donated to The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, which participated in the project.

The audio sets are complemented by a 100-page hardbound book, with complete transcripts of the spoken testimonies, historic photos, explanatory essays, an excellent time-line of events, maps, charts and a glossary.

In addition, there are suggested questions and activities for parents and teachers, and a list of additional teaching resources and Web sites.

John R. Fishel, president of The Jewish Federation, said he became involved in the project as facilitator, after he realized, following visits to Holocaust museums, that there were no audio histories available to the public.

Richard Foos, president of Los Angeles-based Rhino Records, had a similar reaction and asked filmmaker David Notowitz to produce "Voices of the Shoah."

(The Rhino production has no connection to Steven Spielberg's widely publicized Shoah Foundation, which has videotaped the stories of some 50,000 survivors.)

Volume one features survivors' remembrances of life in Europe before World War II, the rise in anti-Semitism as Hitler gained power, and the Jewish experience in ghettos and concentration camps. Volume two includes survivors' memories of liberation, life after the war, adjustment to freedom, and emigration to Israel or the West.

Volume three deals with Jewish-American and Japanese-American soldiers who witnessed the horrors of the concentration camps and tells the story of a rabbi who went to Europe to help survivors. Volume four includes the personal account of a woman who survived in a small Polish village by hiding her Jewish identity, and the attitudes of a second-generation survivor in dealing with the Holocaust legacy.    Of the 24 survivors speaking on the set, 14 are women.

Besides Halbreich, other featured Angelenos include John Rauch, Sonia Meyers and Cesia Kingston.

The complete box set will be available as of March 14 at record stores and other retail outlets, at a suggested retail list price of $69.98/CD and $54.98/cassette, or directly from the Rhino Web site:  

Copyright 2000, Jewish Journal of Greater L.A., All rights reserved.  Reprinted here with the permission of Tom Tugend.

© Copyright Judy Cohen, 2001.
All rights reserved.