When members from the local German community first approached the WCGS with an idea to collect oral history, the goal was to obtain 40 interviews by December 2014. We reached that goal by April 2014. By March 2015, we had collected over 110 interviews, totaling more than 123 hours of personal stories from ethnic Germans and Austrians, and/or their children, all who at one point or another lived in Waterloo Region.
The experiences collected are vast. Older participants witnessed traumatic war events in their youth. Some had even been forced to work in labour camps after the war. Younger participants often came here to look for a different life. Some participants even ended up staying in Canada simply by chance. These are generalities, though; each story is different.
Each interview was scheduled, conducted, transcribed, and then prepared for archiving, requiring over 15 hours of behind-the-scenes work. The entire process requires careful coordination, and everyone working on the project must adhere to ethics guidelines as set out by the Tri-Council Policy Statement.
The final transcripts will be stored in an archive accessible to researchers. A book based on the data collected is also in the works. It will be available to the public, though a release date hasn’t been set yet. We’ll update our website when we have news.
If you are interested in the Oral History Project, please contact Professor Grit Liebscher.