In the 1980s the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies undertook a large oral history project designed to record the memories of Jews of European-origin who settled in South Africa before and after the First World War. At the time they represented the last living links to a lost world. Many South African Jews trace their familial origins to Lithuania, but Jewish life in that country was almost entirely erased by the Holocaust.

In all, 483 elderly members of the Jewish communities of Cape Town and Johannesburg were interviewed. The interviews capture their recollections of life in their countries of origin, of the passage from Europe to South Africa, of settlement in a new land, and of community and life within a racially divided society. Each interview was recorded and transcribed.

The Kaplan Centre is pleased to announce that all recordings and transcripts have been digitised, and detailed metadata has been created for each interview. The descriptive information for these interviews is available on AtoM (Kaplan Centre Interviews, collection number: BC949):

To access the digitised interviews and transcripts, contact Katie Garrun, the Kaplan Centre Archivist for further assistance (