Born in what was now Latvia, David Boder (1886-1975) emigrated to the U.S. following the Russian revolution and pursued a successful career as a professor of psychology. In 1946, he began visiting European displaced-persons (DP) camps, recording equipment in hand, to interview survivors about their wartime experiences. He may have been the very first to undertake such a project, which produced over 90 hours of recordings. Jack Doyle writes:
It took more than a year of determined fundraising before Boder headed to Europe as an archivist and scholar to record firsthand accounts. It hadn’t been easy, because in 1946 not many wanted to hear from survivors. “It was too recent a memory, too recent a hurt,” explains Ralph Pugh, an archivist with the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Voices of the Holocaust project, which houses digitized versions of Boder’s interviews. . . .
But Boder was undeterred. Over the course of two months, he interviewed 130 people: young and old, male and female, of many nationalities, but all DPs . . . who had been held in internment and extermination camps. The interviews describe, in agonizing detail, the experiences we [now known as the] Holocaust, including death marches, mass executions, gas chambers, [and] families separated and extinguished. . . .
Boder’s work remained obscure for years. He spent the rest of his career dedicated to disseminating his interviews, writing the book I Did Not Interview the Dead and taking eight years to revisit, translate, and type 70 stories. He sent copies to academic libraries, including Yale, Princeton and Harvard. But [his work garnered little attention].