New version of Chronicles of Terror, our online testimony database

12 June 2017

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A map of locations mentioned in testimonies, historical background of specific events, photographs of victims and witnesses of totalitarian crimes – these are but a few new functionalities available at ChroniclesofTerror.pl, one of the biggest collections of civilian testimonies from occupied Europe.

Chronicles of Terror, a novel project of the Witold Pilecki Center for Totalitarian Studies, combines academic research, the popularization of history and the broadly defined culture of remembrance.

Available in Polish and in English, the online testimony database – the key part of the project – contains the accounts by Polish citizens of the suffering and persecution to which they were subjected during the wartime occupation of their country by the totalitarian regimes of the Communist Russia and the Nazi Germany. These testimonies reflect the experience of thousands of Polish victims of totalitarian crimes, and also of their families and loved ones.

Main functionalities of the portal:

1. Full-text search engine: users can find relevant testimonies in a matter of seconds, entering the name and surname of a witness, the date or place of an event, the type of experience (e.g. the type of crime), or simply phrases connected with the history of the Second World War.

2. Testimony text: the portal features a scan of the original source document, its Polish transcription and English translation.

3. Comprehensive system of tags: facilitates categorization of testimonies and helps find similar accounts.

4. Photographs of victims and witnesses of German crimes: supplement particular testimonies and allow users to see people whose wartime experiences are described in these accounts.

5. Map of testimonies: shows the most important locations of the events mentioned in testimonies. Clicking a given location, the user will view all the testimonies connected with it.

6. Historical contexts: academic texts outlining the historical background of the events described in testimonies. Since they are linked to relevant testimonies, readers can easily place the accounts of specific events in the broader context of the German occupation of Poland.

7. English version: the ChroniclesofTerror.pl website fully corresponds to the Polish-language original. Out of almost 1,400 testimonies, over 1,000 are already available in English.

8. Mobile version: full version of the website dedicated for mobile devices.

 

Testimonies

We began the development of our database with the publication of testimonies concerning Warsaw and its environs. These include accounts describing German terror in the occupied capital: street executions, round-ups, daily life in the Warsaw Ghetto, executions of the Polish intelligentsia carried out in Palmiry and at other locations in the vicinity of Warsaw. We also publish the testimonies of prisoners of Pawiak and Gęsiówka, and of those who were brutally interrogated at the Gestapo headquarters on aleja Szucha. Some depositions were made by Polish Jews who survived deportation to the death camp at Treblinka.

Finally, we share the accounts of Varsovians who survived the Wola Massacre – a systematic genocide carried out by the Germans during the first days of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.The majority of the accounts available on our portal are witness depositions made by Polish citizens who testified before the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland after World War II.

On 17 September 2017, which marks the 78th anniversary of the Red Army’s invasion of Poland, we will publish the first testimonies concerning Soviet crimes, submitted by the soldiers from Anders’ Army and civilians who escaped the Soviet Union.

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