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Something Made - The Witness Dialog

Only rarely it is nowadays still possible to be in the presence of eyewitnesses telling about the Nazi period. Instead, those media formats are piling up in which interviews are presented or retrievable. Usually, the interview is presented as a holistic product whereby the genesis of such a production remains obscured.

In documentary film sequences, it is almost impossible to discern the “making” of the narratives. But there are disruptions in the storytelling which unwittingly demonstrate that an interview is “being made.” These disruptions allow a view into the staging. Oftentimes, they reveal more about the interlocutors than what is actually said.

Compilation of interviews from the collection of the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp Memorial and the University Archives of the University of Southern California; Medienwerkstatt Franken / Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education. Running time: 4:32 min

The conversation that develops between the narrator and the trained interviewer is subject to its own rules of dramaturgy and communication. Narrators but also interviewers have each their own notions: memories are consciously concealed or emphasized, questions remain unanswered, answers are declined. The contemporary witness interview occurs within a reciprocal spectrum of expectations of “objective information” and “subjective experiences” and resembles a stage production: light, makeup, image and sound, technical equipment.