The University of Winnipeg



Seeking Your Old Tapes Lost In Translation

WINNIPEG, MB – A good part of Manitoba’s history might be hiding in your basement! Researchers at The University of Winnipeg are looking to find taped interviews of refugees in Manitoba since 1945 as part of a four-year study on the history of refugees in Manitoba.

“We are searching for collections of oral history interviews with refugees who arrived in Manitoba after the Second World War and during the Cold War,” explained Dr. Alexander Freund, Chair in German-Canadian Studies and project leader. “We suspect that many privately taped interviews are stored in people’s basements and attics that might have been conducted by families or for community projects and we are looking to retrieve them.”

This project, Postwar and Cold War Refugee Voices of Manitoba, is one of three sub-projects of Stories of homeland, violence, and migration: Memories and histories of refugees in Manitoba, 1945-2010. The two others are Salvadoran Voices of Manitoba and a project in the West End.

There are surprisingly few interviews with Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Hungarians, and Germans, including Mennonites, at archives in the province and  researchers have not found interviews with Estonians, Czechoslovakians, and other postwar refugees.

After completing the inventory, researchers will try to locate 20 previously interviewed individuals in order to do follow-up interviews which would also include their children and grandchildren. “One of the questions we want to answer,” explains Freund, “is how memories of war and state violence, displacement, and home change through time and across generations and how these experiences have affected the integration of refugees into a new host country.”

The SSHRC-funded project also studies more recent refugees from all other parts of the world.
If you know of collections or own interviews with refugees, please contact lead researcher and project manager Elizabeth Krahn at 775-9045 or at


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