Thumbnail portrait of Nina Morecki
Nina Morecki

"Ready to Die ..."
An Oral History Project at UC Santa Barbara
A Holocaust survivor's story, how she came to tell it, and how we've been documenting it.

Welcome to the UCSB Holocaust Oral History Project web site.

  • This site's objective is to provide resources for conducting oral history research about the Nazi genocide and how it has been understood and remembered since World War II.
  • It began in 1999 as a web site about Nina Morecki, a Holocaust survivor who begann speaking to local school classes in 1993.
  • The site now includes not only Nina's story, but information about the
  • Holocaust in the Ukraine, how Nina came to tell her story, and how we have worked to document it and present it to you.

If you have questions, please contact

Announcements Through the Eyes of a Survivor, book cover
  • March 2016: Many mass graves still being uncovered in Ukraine (NYT article, May 13, 2015), focus on Lviv region.
  • Aug. 2015: "Ukraine Unveils Monuments To Recognize Jews Killed In Holocaust: The monuments sit atop mass graves," in HuffPost, July 16, 2015. This is not about Lviv/Janowska, where Nina lived and was imprisoned, but about the surrounding region, into which she escaped from the pit of executed prisoner corpses.
  • August 2013: See this new book publication about the effects of listening to survivor testimony: Thomas Trezise, Witnessing Witnessing: On the Reception of Holocaust Survivor Testimony (Fordham University Press, 2013), 336 pages. ($21 at amazon).
  • March 2012: Nina Morecki passed away this month at age 91. We remember her fondly. The Diamond Bar synagogue paid special tribute to her (memorial event announcement [link expired 8/2013; avail. 8/2015]).
  • October 2012: How did Holocaust survivors tell their stories immediately after World War II? David Boder interviewed 130 survivors in refugee ("DP") camps across central Europe in 1946. His work is available on the Illinios Institute of Technology website:
  • March 28, 2011: I often receive questions about good sites with guidelines about conducting oral history interviews. These are the ones I usually recommend:
  • Jan. 30, 2011: At long last!! I've typed up and added the remaining 30 handwritten pages of my journal of the trip to Lviv with Nina and her daughter in August 1999.
  • Jan. 2011: Jeremy Garsha, who made some of the most valuable contributions to this project back in 2004, just published an article. See the link on the Oral History Resources page.
    • The Stories Matter project of Concordia College has a software application that allows archiving of audio and video as an alternative to transcription.
  • Aug. 2010: Way back we were thinking of images for a documentary film about how Nina came to tell her story, provisionally titled Shattering the Silence, with an iconic image, perhaps of a liquid-nitrogen-frozen rose shattering as it fell. Dutch photographer Lex Augustejn takes such pictures (Homepage; breaking egg)
  • May 2008: See this new publication on the Holocaust in the Ukraine:
  • Nov. 2007: KCLU radio interview with Mara Vishniac Kohn and Ursula Mahlendorf. They were panelists at a Nov. 9 event at the Santa Barbara Jewish Federation. (800K .wma audio file)
  • Oct. 2007: "A Priest Methodically Reveals Ukrainian Jews’ Fate," New York Times Saturday profile, Oct. 6, 2007. 52-year-old priest Patrick Desbois travels to villages in the Ukraine and asks about what residents witnessed as teens. He has collected over 700 videotaped interviews and located 600 mass graves. Some of the artifacts and videotapes are now on exhibit in Paris.
  • June 2007 radio report about the Santa Barbara "Portraits of Survival" exhibition, in particular about two survivors who returned to eastern Europe to visit their former homes and attend a conference (2.9M .m4a file)
  • March 2007: A superb biography of Nina Morecki, Through the Eyes of a Survivor, by Colette Waddell, was published ($24 at amazon)
  • July 2004 article about Alexander Schwarz, a Lvov survivor who created the memorial at the Janovska "Valley of Death" and who supports the Lvov Jewish community.
  • Nov 2004 article about a book (in German) containing interviews with 86 Jewish survivors from the Ukraine.
  • In June 2003 The Christian Broadcasting Network published Nina's story as well, after its programming director Craig von Busak met her during a trip to Israel. (link)
  • 1997: Nina's short biography for Portraits of Survival, a permanent documentary photographic exhibition at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara (555 Chapala St.)
Nina Specific Research

visitors since June 12, 2002
Click here for guestbook
This web site is maintained by
H. Marcuse
and the Oral History Project teams
last update: Nov. 11, 2004
UCSB logo
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General Research Archive
Nina Morecki's Archive
From 1922 to 1945.
From 1945 to 2002.
Description of classroom visit, May 2002.
Trip to Lvov in 1999: pictures, journal.
Transcripts of interviews with Nina.
A page of answers to questions asked by students to whom Nina has spoken
(some answers are available in quicktime video format).
Oral History
How To: Human Subjects
How To: Interviewing

How To: Document Formatting
(for students)

How To: Document Formatting
(for webmaster)

Transcripts of interviews with students

History Related to Nina's Story
Glossary of terms.
History of Lvov, 1200-present
Links to other sites.
Maps relating to Nina's story
Story of a survivor of Janovska camp (in German)
Preliminary bibliography.
Reviews of books about Lvov & oral history.
Research / Teaching
Research Papers
Teaching Units
Research Projects

Project History
Hist 199RA 1999
Hist 199RA 2000
Hist 199RA 2002

Chronological Index of this Site (under construction)

1921 Nina is born in Lvov Poland. Her father manages a family lumber mill; her mother inherits a soap factory.

1928 Lumber mill burned in a fire.

1931-34 Nina attends Gymnasium (high school).

1935 Nina is accepted to the University (Hebrew) Med. School, didn't go because the war broke out.

1938 November 9: "Kristallnacht" pogroms against Jews [UCSB web project]

1939 September. Soviets and Germans invade Poland. First the Germans, then the Soviets occupy Lvov.
Nina works with nuns as a nurse, Russian nurses and doctors come in and remove Nina (she was not a certified nurse).

1941 July. Germans invade the Soviet Union (and Lvov). The Soviets flee Lvov, but Nina's family decides not to leave.

  • Lives on Kopernika St., Russians quartered in apartment, she lived with her aunt, she did not want to live at the address her father was arrested.
  • People began to disappear (middle sister first)
  • Polish and German collaboration
  • Wear star of David
  • Lvov Ghetto
  • Mother is murdered

1942 - Relocation of Jews -Lived in Newly abandoned quarters of non-Jewish Poles who had lived in poverty but were moved to a better part of the city.

  • Relocated to a Janovska, a concentration camp set up by a cemetery
  • September, Helped build ghetto
  • "Selected" as no longer fit enough to work, survives a mass shooting into a mass grave
  • Finds refuge at a farmhouse, but flees once she has recovered
  • Joins a Polish partisan unit in the forest
  • Is assigned to work undercover at a German postal station, stamping false ID cards

Timeframe is a little unclear in 1942 and 1943 (events blended together in memory).

1944 -Working in post office in an area of the Soviet Union that is occupied by the Germans.  Nina is posing as Maria, a Polish girl. She meets Hendrick (the lawyer) and Danosha (his girlfriend)

  • Runs away from the post office and arrives in Zmerinka, Romania
  • Joins the Soviet army as a nurse when it arrives
  • Travels with Russian Front to somewhere near Cracow, Poland
  • Deserts Soviet army and returns to Lvov to search for family
  • May 8, 1945: the war ends

1944-45 Meets husband Josef

1947 - moves to US

After World War II (text)

1988 - husband Josef's death

1993 - Nina tells her story for the first time, at Carpinteria High School (teacher Casey Roberts tells about it)

1995 - Students from AP English and History classes at Carpinteria High write up Nina's story

1996 - Nina tells her story at UCSB; a friend helps her to rewrite the Carpinteria High text.

1998 - beginning of a series of taped interviews of Nina telling her life story

2007 - Colette Waddell completes an oral history-based biography of Nina Morecki, Through the Eyes of a Survivor

last updated Jan. 1, 2011, by Harold Marcuse