Fortunoff Archive preserves Holocaust testimonies

By Peter L. Rothholz, Contributing Writer

Until his 50th birthday, Geoffrey Hartman had little Jewish involvement after fleeing Nazi Germany as part of the Kindertransport to England. Instead, this Sterling professor emeritus of English and comparative literature at Yale University devoted time to establishing his reputation as a scholar of Wordsworth, Keats and the romantic poets.

It took a non-Jewish colleague, Bart Giammati, Yale’s president at the time, to re-direct Hartman’s energies to the task of elevating and expanding the Jewish studies curriculum at the university and simultaneously preserving memories of the Holocaust. In the 1980s, Hartman helped establish the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, a Yale-based collection of videotaped Holocaust testimonies he continues to head. The archive preceded Spielberg’s Shoah Visual History Foundation by more than a decade.