Interview with Steve Mendlesohn

Interview: keyword transcript

Interview: reflective piece

The whole process of the Witness project was challenging but insightful. It taught us about working alongside one another and organising ourselves as a group and as individuals. I found the research process particularly interesting. We only knew very brief information about the interviewees so had to do our own research in order to draft a set of questions which we wanted to pursue. Both of our interviewees gave us information about their birth dates and where they grew up. For Steve, this led us to ask questions about the rise of Nazism and how this came to effect his life while for Estelle, who grew up in Sheffield, we were led down the route of gathering information about the Jewish community that she was a part of. Doing this initial research was particularly though provoking when it came to the interviews as it was fascinating to hear from those who lived in a time that as students we refer to as history – Emma

Personally, I found the interviewing the most enjoyable part of the whole experience. ‘Interviewing’ doesn’t seem like the appropriate word for this process, meeting and talking to these lovely people felt like I had gone round to my grandparents for a catch up. They were so willing to share their past and stories and their enthusiasm was greatly felt and made posing more questions easier as they were so open and willing to talk. I think what struck me the most about the interviewing stage was when we discussed difficult topics, for instance travelling on the kindertransport or siblings affected by the Holocaust. I found myself getting emotional at their answers, however their calmness at retelling these emotional stories revealed perhaps these were stories they had told many a time before or maybe it revealed the effect time can have. Either explanation, or perhaps a reason that did not occur to me, got me thinking – Lydia

The interviewees, Steve Mendelsohn and Estelle Hakim, were both kind and welcoming making the interviews feel more easy and relaxed. Steve Mendelsohn was born in 1930s Germany and experienced the persecution of the Nazi regime first hand, whereas Estelle grew up in Sheffield during World War Two and has been involved with Sheffield’s Jewish community from a young age. Despite having vastly different life experiences, we found both interviews interesting as they provided a comparison of the different life experiences of members of the community. Working in a group also helped the interviews flow smoothly as each person had an equal amount of questions and there were no awkward pauses.Overall I am glad to have taken part in the witness Sheffield project. The stories of both Steve and Estelle were interesting and provided us with an insight into what it was actually like to live through World War Two. Furthermore, I believe that it is important to record the memories and stories of people who have lived through large historical events to further our understanding of how these events effected peoples’ day to day experience’s as well as how memory of events can change with time – Brenna

Interviewers: Emma Poulton, Brenna Cooper and Lydia Edwards.

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