Memory of Nations is one of Europe's most extensive collections of life stories. It has been publicly accessible since 2008 as a database of testimonies of witnesses of 20th century events who survived the two totalitarian regimes - nazism and communism. The stories illustrate how these regimes impacted individual lives, and allow for uncovering of their substance.
Memory of Nations is accessible to all interested people, both registered and not, for research purposes as a source of recognition of the past and of lessons learned from our history.
The collection is administered by the charitable association Post Bellum (meaning 'after the war' in Latin), established in 2001 by journalists and historians who have realized only how important it was to record personal memories of World War II and communism.
Post Bellum administers the collection alongside its partner organizations - Czech Radio and Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. Post Bellum further collaborates with the Czech Television and a number of other partners from Europe, Russia, the US and elsewhere on the documentation and archiving of oral testimonies.
The archive is accessible to all visitors of the Memory of Nations portal. It contains stories of witnesses based on audio or video recordings of their recollections.
Each story is presented in the form of a brief biography and a longer text which is accessible below the biography under the link to the full story of the witness.
The story further contains selected excerpts from the recording in the form of audio or video clips including their transcripts, pictures and documents, other archive materials and links to related sources, as well as English translations of the short bio, clips and photo captions.
Visitors can search for stories using an alphabetical list or full-text search located in the top right of each page. Individual witnesses are assigned to specific eras, events and thematic categories, which put their respective stories in a context.
Registered users have access to full uncut recordings, minutes and other archive materials stored in the e-archive. Registration is done by filling in the online form and agreeing to the rules of use.
In the vast majority of cases, the full recordings are not transcribed. The recording itself is perceived as the primary historical source for use in further research. In order to navigate easily and swiftly in the recording, each researcher can make use of the minutes provided.
Use of stories
The witnesses whose recollections are publicly available at Memory of Nations have given their written consent with the use of the recordings and pictures or other archive documents for the purposes of non-profit research, education or publication. In some cases, however, their consent may be limited.
If interested in publishing audio, video, texts or pictures from Memory of Nations, it is necessary to check for the project under which the respective testimony was recorded. Post Bellum's most extensive projects (Stories of the 20th Century, Stories of the 20th Century TV) allow for the publication of video, audio and pictures as long as "Memory of Nations" is referred to as a source.
The stories must be published in accordance with ethical journalistic standards including objectivity, accuracy, dilligence and respect for the other person. When using a story, it is forbidden to obscure its key circumstances and it is required to use all accessible methods to find out about and verify the facts of the witnesses life story.
We are happy to answer any questions you may have on the use of materials and sources from the Memory of Nations portal.