What's a Raconteur?


A person who tells anecdotes in a skillful and amusing way; a storyteller; a narrator

How To Interview A Holocaust Survivor

How to Interview a Holocaust Survivor

Tips from Our Co-Founder Olivia Savoie

I recently had the honor of interviewing my very first subject who survived the Holocaust. Never have I sat through such heavy interviews laden with tears. And never have I heard such moving, miraculous verbal memories. It’s heartbreaking to thing that had I not sat down with this subject and not documented his memories on his behalf, these memories would one day be gone forever.

Perhaps someone you love has survived the Holocaust—a parent, in-law, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or another loved one. Perhaps they have told you bits and pieces about their experience or nothing at all. Whatever the case, you may want to talk with them about their experiences.

If you do not know where to start or what questions to ask, the following tips and questions can help you get started.


Never force your loved one to speak about their Holocaust experiences. The best thing to do is ensure they are ready to speak on their own terms. Keep in mind that some memories may be too painful for them to share, and if they say something is too difficult to speak about, you should let them know that’s okay. Ask questions with empathy. Let them know you are there to listen.

A comfortable environment will help your loved one feel more at ease when speaking about their experiences. Talking to them in a comfortable place, such as their own living room, your home, or a park on a nice day, will help them feel comfortable.  


  1. Do you remember being captured/brought to the camp? Can you describe the journey to the camp?
  2. Was your family separated or together during this time? Did you stay together the whole time or get separated later?
  3. What were conditions like in the camp? Can you describe a typical day in the camp?
  4. How did you cope emotionally with your experiences? What kept you going daily? What gave you hope?
  5. Did you ever interact with the guards? How did you feel? How did they treat you? Did you encounter any who tried to help you?
  6. When you think of the horrors you faced or witnessed, is there anything you want to share?
  7. Were there any hopeful moments you experienced?
  8. Despite the great atrocities you faced in your early years, were there any fleeting moments where you felt like a kid being a kid/teen being a teen, etc.?  
  9. Do you have any physical scars or tattoos from your time in the camps?
  10. If any of your family members did not survive the camps, do you want to share what happened to them? How did you learn what happened to them?
  11. If your family did survive, how and where did you reunite after the war?
  12. Were you liberated by the Allied troops? If so, how did the liberators treat you?
  13. Where did you go upon being liberated? How did you get there? What were conditions like?
  14. How did you start your life again after the Holocaust?
  15. What led you to the place you ended up after the war—be it your hometown, home country, or a new country to which you immigrated?
  16. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience?

Contact Raconteur

The subject(s) of the book will communicate their story to a writer
The subject(s) of the book has passed away and other loved ones will relay their story to the writer
The subject(s) of the book has written pieces of their life story, but needs a writer to add to and refine the work for publication

Are you ready to learn more about preserving your loved one's life story?

Let's Get Started.

© Raconteur Life Story Writing 2024 | All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy