Same Place, different stories. Interview experiences from Austria
Sprache des Vortragstitels:
Looking at then, Now. International Oral History Conference
Sprache des Tagungstitel:
Same Place, Different Stories
Interviews experiences from Austria
This paper focuses on the importance of contributions addressing subjectivity in the creation of oral histories. Therefore interviews with former inmates of community homes or foster homes and with their former educators seem to be an adequate topic of presentation. Both groups were more or less ?silent? for a long time period. The author of this paper was researching the topic in several institution in Austria but today in this contribution I will concentrate on a series of interviews conducted with a team concerning events that occurred between 1948 and 1977 in Schloss Wilhelminenberg, an institution run by the City of Vienna in a former castle. Most of the young people sent to live there were girls. Insiders familiar with Vienna?s foster care facilities had long been aware of rumours concerning abuses on a massive scale, and in 1977 the home was suddenly closed Immediately after the closure in 1977, trucks arrived at the facility and took away the files located in the castle.
When, in October 2011, the Austrian daily newspaper Kurier ran stories about repeatedly rapes in the foster care facility Wilhelminenberg during the 1950s and 1970s, the Austrian public reacted with shock. The City of Vienna set up the Wilhelminenberg Commission of Inquiry, which was active from December 2011 to July 2013. The author of this paper was the deputy chairman of the Wilhelminenberg commission, which consisted of four members; the staff included a coordinator and several researchers. The Commission of Inquiry was assigned the task of reconstructing and assessing what went on in the Schloss Wilhelminenberg facility; it was also charged with investigating whether crimes were committed and, if so, identifying the perpetrators. The papers documents, analyses and discusses the interview experiences during this huge interview project, where contacts with almost 300 potential interviewees were made.