Witnesses to the Age – Archive of Oral History
Since 2018, the Pilecki Institute has been recording the memoirs of survivors of the Second World War, as well as of those who remember the post-war era. Our archive of oral history contains hundreds of recordings amounting to tens of thousands of hours of memoirs. Some of them are available in the Pilecki Institute’s digital archives.
Soldiers from all fronts, civilians, political prisoners, concentration camp detainees, forced labor camp survivors all discuss their experiences. They are the witnesses of nationalist atrocities and war crimes. They are Righteous and Survivors. They are Polish citizens, and Poles with a different nationality, citizens of other nations.
Ever since it was established, the Witold Pilecki Institute of Solidarity and Valor has been collecting and sharing documents that present the multiple historical facets of the last century. Many of them were previously split up, lost, or forgotten. Some were held in archives on other continents. To facilitate research, we have created an innovative digital archive that enables easy access to the source material. We are striving to gather as many archives as possible in one place. As a result, it takes little more than a few clicks to learn about the history of Poland and its citizens in the 20th century.
The Institute’s website contains a description of the collections available in the reading room as well as the necessary information to plan a visit. The documents themselves are only available in the Institute’s reading room, a public space where material is available free of charge to researchers and anyone interested in the topics collected there. The reading room also offers a friendly environment for quiet work.
The materials are obtained from institutions, public archives, both domestic and international social organizations, as well as from private individuals. The collections are constantly being expanded. A full-text search engine that searches both the content of the documents and their metadata allows the user to reach the desired source with ease. Another way to navigate the accumulated resources is to search according to the archival institutions from which they originate and which contain hierarchically arranged fonds and files.
Most of the archival materials are in open access on computers in the reading room. Some of our collections, e.g. from the Bundesarchiv, are subject to the restrictions on availability resulting from agreements between the Institute and the institutions which transfer them. An appropriate declaration must be signed upon arrival at the reading room in order to gain immediate access to these documents.
Before your visit, we recommend familiarizing yourself with the scope and structure of our archival, library and audio-visual resources, as well as with the regulations for visiting and using the collections.
All those wishing to access our collections are invited to the Pilecki Institute at ul. Foksal 17 in Warsaw. The reading room is open from 9–15, Monday to Friday. An appointment must be made in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (+48) 22 182 24 75.