The first Jewish historical commissions for documenting the Holocaust formed before the end of World War II.1 Moyshe Feygnboym, leader of the Central Historical Commission in Munich, described the organizations' purpose in 1946. He wrote: "We, the survivors, the surviving witnesses, must create for the historian documentation that will take the place of the aforementioned sources so that he may create for himself a clear picture of what happened to us and among us."
Jewish historical commissions assembled survivor testimonies through interviews and questionnaires.2 Some interviews were conducted personally and recorded in the individual survivor's voice. Others were edited later by historical commission staff. Some interviews took place in small groups and became collective narratives.
Since its founding in 1946, the Central Historical Commission in Munich recorded and preserved testimony from children. The commission used these testimonies extensively in its publication, Fun letstn khurbn ("From the Last Extermination"). Although adults often filled out the commission's complex questionnaires themselves, children generally did not.3 In the featured document, for example, the interviewer—about whom we know very little—evaluates the mental and physical state of this orphaned youth. Interviewers' opinions could have larger implications for a child's prospect for immigration in the future.
The questionnaires for displaced children and youth served a particular purpose. The form presented here was likely created by United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) to document Munzer's displaced status and help him to emigrate from Europe to live with his relatives, but it was preserved by the commission in Munich for the purposes of historical documentation.4 This questionnaire is the result of an interview designed to obtain specific information about an "unaccompanied child," and it reflects the perspective and opinions of the interviewer rather than of Munzer himself. How might these considerations affect the use of such forms as historical sources? How might indirect testimonies such as this provide additional information to historians?