Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I love driving up the peninsula and crossing through the foothills as the fog rolls over from the ocean, engulfing you as soon as you breach the hills north of Palo Alto. Yesterday I drove up to San Mateo to spend the afternoon browsing the archives at the Bay Area Holocaust Oral History Project. I left a sunny San Jose and emerged into a foggy, cool San Mateo 30 minutes later, though oddly enough by the time I left San Mateo at 5:00, the sun had reemerged.

The BAHOHP records the testimonies of Holocaust survivors and eyewitnesses in order to preserve them for posterity and to educate future generations about genocide. The women at the BAHOHP office were generous with their time as they helped me sort through scores of records to find testimonies relevant to my research. I ended up with a small mountain of records to sift through, and whittled it down to a (somewhat) manageable number. The amount and quality of material they have is stunning. I'm clearing my schedule (more on that later) so I can volunteer at this organization by helping index and summarize testimonies so future researchers can have access to them. Over the last two years this story has become so personal to me that I want to help any way I can.

Tomorrow I'm taking the train up to San Francisco to continue this research work at the Holocaust Center of Northern California, and I'm looking forward to it.

Yesterday was also an exercise in talking openly (out loud!) about my book to strangers. If I want to pursue publication, I have to get used to doing this. It's nervewracking, but I think I'm getting a little better at it.


Chad Aaron Sayban said...

Going through those testimonials sounds like it would be both fascinating and heart-wrenching at the same time.

As for speaking about your writing, like anything else, the more that you do it the easier it will become. I'm sure you will be a pro in no time.

Angie said...

Chad, it's definitely both fascinating and heart-wrenching.
Invariably it's the "what's your novel about" question that gets me stammering. ;)

JJ said...

Angie, that sounds really interesting. I was lucky enough to see the Daniel Libeskind Jewish Museum in Berlin a few years ago, and it was amazing and incredibly moving. Good luck with your ongoing research.

Kristen said...

Awesome, Ang. Looking forward to hearing more about the research and about the volunteer work.

Yvonne said...

I'm delighted you're talking about your book more. I went to the Holocaust museum in New York City - utterly harrowing but so important. I've been thinking about it today with the arrest of Radovan Karadzic.

Angie said...

Thanks, JJ. I didn't see that museum when I visited Berlin, but they had a fantastic outdoor memorial exhibit showcasing the history of the Holocaust, which I highly recommend.

Kristen, I'm sure you'll hear plenty! I'm pretty excited about all of it. :)

Thanks, Yvonne. I'm doing second round research as I edit, so it's on my mind.
It's sobering to watch news about Karadzic (especially since many countrymen consider him a hero!) and the Darfur genocide. Sometimes it feels like the world has learned nothing from earlier tragedies.