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Transcript of UCSB Interview 3

Monday, February 17, 2003
Interviewer: Jeremy Garsha
Interviewee: Joanna Katz [UCSB Freshman in HMís GE1ew class]
Prepared by Jeremy Garsha [2/20/03]

Jeremy: Let me just get a little bit of background about you first, so can you tell me your major?
On the record it says undeclared.

Jer: Do you have any idea of what you what to be?
Jo: Communications

Jer: Iíd like to know what types of history youíve studied, either last quarter, this quarter, or in high school?
Jo: None, I guess.† I donít know, this quarter Iím taking art history? And then this seminar class.

Jer: In high school did you takeÖyou took World History and U.S. History
Jo: Yeah, I took all that U.S. stuff

Jer: The standard stuff?
Jo:† Yeah, thatís all.

Jer: Okay, thatís fine.† Can you tell me about your high school?† Where was it?
Jo: I went to high school in the bay area, at a high school called Mills.

Jer: Mills? M-I-L-L-S?
Jo: Yes.

Jer: Okay, and what was this high school like?† Was this a private school?
Jo: No, it was a public high schoolÖumÖit was one of the best high schools in our district.†

Jer: Was it pretty big?
Jo: Fifteen hundred students.

Jer: Have you ever heard an oral history, like a witness before..
Jo: on the Holocaust?..

Jer: just or in any topic, like someone comes inÖmaybe you guys heard from someone that was in a Japanese Internment camp or have you heard from anyone that has been through a historical event?
Jo: Not in High school

Jer: Not in high school?
Jo:† Not in my high school classroom, but in other settings.

Jer: Where?
Jo: I went to religious school from the time I was in second grade until sophomore year.

Jer: What kind of religious school?
Jo: At temple, I went to church twice a week.† I did that for a really long time.

Jer: In there youíve heard a lot of people talk?
Jo: I heard mostly Holocaust speakers.

Jer: Do you have any idea how many?†
Jo: A lot.† I heard the one first quarter hearÖRuthÖum

Jer: Ruth Kluger [Ruth Kluger spoke in Cambell Hall, Fall 02]
Jo: and my friendís grandparents, Iíve heard them.† And we have had speakers at our temple.†

Jer: When you went to hear Ruth Kluger talk, did you go just on your own?
Jo: No I went with some friends.

Jer: Did you guys talk about it afterwards?
Jo:† A little bit, not really.† I wasnít [Ö ], that was different.† Iíve never heard anyone talk like that.† Mostly I heard differentÖmore like the ones that were in the concentration camps.

Jer: How did the other ones youíve heard compare to Ruth? [Ruth has a very interesting take on the Holocaust and life, perhaps this was what Joanna was alluding to]
Jo: umÖ

Jer: because Ruth was in the concentration camp tooÖ
Jo: I think she had a reallyÖI donít know, I didnít really understand her that well, she had a thick accent.

Jer: Have the other people youíve heard not had as heavy accents?
Jo: They did, I was more used to them I think.† I think Iíve met them before, at least the ones that were in my synagogue, like in the classroom, there was one in fifth grade, like our classrooms were like 14 people so we also could have questions, I guess it was for a different audience [Compares to the large auditorium that Ruth spoke in].† And we had just watched documentaries about the SS troops and now we are hearing her talk what specifically happened to her, like how she was taken inÖby the Germans [Joanna will again talk of SS troops later on]

Jer: When you think back to how youíve learned about the Holocaust through school, do you remember the first time you ever heard anything about it?† You mentioned you went to religious school when you were in second grade, was that your first introduction to the Holocaust or have your parents talked about it?
Jo: My parents must have told me first.

Jer: Do you remember how old you were and under what setting that was?
Jo: I canít even remember, guess Iíve known about it since Iíve known about any other topic.† I canítÖ

Jer: Okay, have you been to any museumsÖthat are Holocaust related, do a D.C. trip or anything.
Jo: umm hmm.† I went to the memorial Washington D.C. one, and one in Israel.

Jer: Youíve been to the one in Israel?†
Jo: Yeah.

Jer: Did you take a family trip to Israel?
Jo: Yes, I went once with my family and once on my conformation trip with my temple [..]

Jer: How was the one in Israel compared to the D.C. one?
Jo: The one Israel is much different.† In IsraelÖI donít know, the D.C. one I was in sixth grade, I donít remember it that well, but the one in Israel, I went when I was sixteen.† There is a lot of documentaries you can watch, a lot of newspapers[?] you can read.† I was more interested I guess, so I read more of the stuff that they had for you.† It was real.. it was more of a memorial I thought, more like a memory.† This was more emotional.

Jer: When you were at these museums, did you hear any survivors talk there?
Jo: On film, I think there was one movie that you watch, in the one in Israel.† More of a documentary.

Jer: When you were in high school, or even in religious school, did you read any Holocaust related literature?
Jo: Yeah, Diary of Anne Frank.† We read another one, Alicia: My Story, read parts of that one, just cuz my mom.† I think she came to speak at our temple, and I didnít go but my mom went and she bought the book, and then she read it and told me to read it.

Jer: What were your reactions to those books?
Jo: I didnít read all of Alicia: My Story, but I read parts; itís a real thick book.† I thought it was amazing.† She set up her own camp, like for other kids or something like thatÖso itís just another amazing story.

Jer: Have you seen any Holocaust related TV shows; documentaries or those TV dramas?
Jo: Iíve seen a documentary, probably seen so many, mostlyÖall I remember from the documentaries that Iíve watched is the SS troops just walking in the street.† Thatís really all I remember from documentaries. [This is the second mention of SS troops- the image really sticks out for her]

Jer: That stands out?† What about cinema, have you seen Holocaust related films?
Jo:† My favorite is Life is Beautiful, we havenít seen that in our class, but in our class we saw Schindlerís List, which is the first time Iíve seen it, I hadnít seen it before class.† I couldnítÖI think I tried to watch it before, when it first came out, must have been too young I couldnít watch it.† We saw Europa Europa, I hadnít seen that before.

Jer: You saw that in the class? [The class is the GE course]
Jo: We saw that in the class.

Jer: When did you first see Life Is Beautiful?
Jo: The first time was in the theaters, and then we bought it.

Jer: Did your family like that one?†
Jo: Yeah.† I didnít even knowÖmy parents just wanted to go to the movies and I just went with them.† I had no idea about itÖfirst of all I didnít it was subtitled.† Didnít know it was about the HolocaustÖ[poor audio for a moment]

Jer: Can you tell me about, you can pick any speaker that you want that youíve heard about the Holocaust, can you just run me through that, give me some details- what sticks out the most?
Jo: They all blur together.

Jer: Do their stories overlap then, or is it just when you think back itís allÖ
Jo: I can remember bits and pieces of different stories Iíve heard and stories Iíve heard about.† My childhood best friend, her grandparents were both in the Holocaust, and they were together before the war, and then got separated in the camps, and then they found each otherÖand then they both went to the United States.† So Iíve seen their tattoos and Iíve heard about what happened to them in the camps, and they seem very lucky. [Tattoos indicate that they were in Auschwitz]

Jer: Are they pretty open, when they talk about it?
Jo: umÖ

Jer: Did they tell you kids about it, or did you guys ask them?
Jo: I think just when I went to their house and their grandparents happened to be over, we would see it [the Tattoos], and then we would ask them about it and they would tell us a little bit, but I never really talked to them for hours about it.† I never heard them speak publicly.

Jer: Are there any stories that really stick out about the Holocaust, from any of these speakers that are real, maybe of something really horrible or else something really hopeful and profound, from all the speakers that youíve heard?
Jo: Not really, I remember listening when I was in fifth grade in a class, I think we did a lot of Holocaust stuff that year, we watched a film and then a speaker came in, I just remember her talking a lot her sister, and how her and her sister were keeping each other alive, just helping each other out.

Jer: Can you tell me about this fifth grade class?† Was this in religious school?
Jo: mmn hmm.

Jer: And you think it was just about the Holocaust?
Jo: Every year we go on to a class with a different teacher in the same religious school, in our temple.† And I think fifth year we had a teacher that everyone wants to have, Mr. Nigel, thatís his name, and he just does lots of stuff on the Holocaust definitely.† And then we went on, sophomore year we talked about it again because we were all being confirmed and you have to write a speech, so I think they really wanted to make sure that it was some stuff from the Holocaust.†

Jer: In some of these Holocaust classes did you guys do some background before you heard speakers come inÖso you guys were more informed?
Jo: I think he told usÖhe must have told us a little background, but weÖI didnít know all the background, Iím learning it now, thatís really what Iím learning all the details; when Hitler came to power, and all the things that went on.† I didnít reallyÖI know Iíve heard it but I donít know it.

Jer: And in high school you guys never covered the Holocaust at all?
Jo: Not Likely.

Jer: Can you tell me some of your overall impressions of the Holocaust after youíve heard these speakers, does this really help you shed light on the HolocaustÖthrough the speakersÖlike as youíre studying it now in Dr. Marcuseís class, can you kind of think back and be like ĎOh okay, when I think Auschwitz thatís Ruth Kluger, thatís my friends grandparents with their tattoosÖĒ Does that kind of help set a context.
Jo: Really I wish I paid attention, or that I remember it, and then I know Iím going to keep going to the speakers cuz theyíre not going to be around forever, for that much longer.† And also I ask my parents more questions.† Our family came over earlier, but I know we had some kind of relative, I was talking in class about that, they were on a train to one of the camps and they just decided to poison themselves because they didnít want to go through it, and I think that is the closest relative that I know about, I sure my grandparents could tell me other stories.

Jer: Are you interested in asking your grandparents those stories?
Jo: Probably should.† I donít see themÖI see them about twice a year, when I see them we donít want to talk about that.†

Jer: Yeah, itís not an easy topic.† Can you tell me how hearing oral testimonies, hearing witnesses give their stories, compares to when you are reading?† Like letís say reading Anne Frankís Diary versus a speaker youíve heard?† How do you feel about those?Ö[The pause here shows no response and a blank stare, perhaps she was overwhelmed by the question]ÖWhat do you think is more enlightening and helpful for you, just in you academic advancement, books or speakers?
Jo:I think with books you can take the time and try to figure out what they are trying to tell you, and figure out what they are trying to get across, but when you hear a speaker itís right in your face.† Their telling you something that happened to them, and you can see who they are, youíre not just reading their name and reading the details.

Jer: Does a speaker, when they talk, seem more emotional to you than stories that are in written print?
Jo: Yep.

Jer: Is that necessarily helpful for academia?
Jo: I think films are really powerful.† I think films are a really good way to get across the emotions of the HolocaustÖalong with speakers.

Jer: You think films like documentary films or you think films like Life is Beautiful?
Jo: Both.† They are both definitely different but they both hit you, actually I really felt that Life is Beautiful was one of the saddest movies I have every seen and I didnít find Schindlerís List as sad as Life is Beautiful and we talked about that in class, and I couldnít understand why everyone keeps talking about how Schindlerís List was so sad, itís so sad, but I thought Life is Beautiful was more sad, even though itís fiction.

Jer: What do you think about the fact that Life is Beautiful is fiction?† About having a story that is set in the Holocaust?† Do you think that is okay?† Schindlerís List is obviously about the Holocaust, Life is Beautiful pertains to the Holocaust, but there is also another story going on.† How do you feel about that?† You think thatís okay?
Jo: Yeah, I think thatís fine.† I think it brings more drama to it.† It depends on what kind of perspective you want, while youíre watching the movie.† Like, what are you trying to get out of it?† Are you trying to learn, trying to learn what really happened, are you trying to learn facts like all about Schindlerís List and Schindler?ÖorÖlike Iím sure in some way, that kind of story happened, a husband and wife were separated and they were trying to meet up with each other. [That kind of story seems to have happened to her friends grandparents]

Jer: So you think itís okay to use the Holocaust as a backdrop for fictional stories and romance.
Jo: I donít really see it asÖ I see it as they are using something that might have happened, theyíre making up a story that might have happened or something similar.† Like obviouslyÖmy friendís grandparents, they lost each other and they found each other, it might have happened, and they are just using it to hold people together, when theyíre watching it.


Jer: Nina is going to talk to you guys on Tuesday, hopefully..
Jo: oh is she?

Jer: Hopefully, but Iím pretty sure she is, so do you have any sort of expectations on that?† Has Dr. Marcuse given you guys any background on her?
Jo: I think he told us a little about her, I donít really know too much about her story.† I donít know.† Iím going to hear her speak I guess. [Nina would end up coming a week later, giving the students time to read her letter]

Jer: Do you have any questions that you are really curious to ask her?
Jo: Iím going to try and pay attention this time and remember her story.† Because I think when you are younger it is hard to remember the specific story of a person; remember their name and which camp they were in, and what country, but I think when youíre older it is important to try and remember those things.

Jer: How do you feel about the fact that all the speakers that our generation can hear were all children in the Holocaust, and now they are old people now?
Jo: You wonder how accurate their memory is, and what went on.† And you wonder what it was like to be an adult, like you are always wondering what it was like to child, what was it like to be an adult, and to have your children go through this, and to watch them be taken away.†

Jer: Okay.† Is there anything else you would like to add?
Jo: [laughing] I need a topic for my Holocaust paper.

Jer: Youíre going to write a Holocaust paper?
Jo: Yeah.

Jer: For Dr. Marcuseís class?
Jo: mmn hmm

Jer: What are the parameters for it?
Jo: Basically just pick a topic that interests you and make sure itís focused

Jer: How long are these papers suppose to be?
Jo: Five to six pages

Jer: Have you given any thoughts to it?
Jo: I have a couple of possible topics, and Iím going to go to the library right now and attempt to do research.

Jer: Fantastic.

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