Vol 29 (2009)
Oral History in the World


Alexander von Plato is an internationally recognized authority on oral history and one of Germany’s leading oral historians. On 8 April 2009, I conducted a six-and-one-half hour interview with him at his old family home in Germany. Von Plato talks about his historical and political awakening during the 1960s and in opposition to his family. He describes the development of oral history in Germany and the specific approach to interviewing that German oral historians developed in projects in the late 1970s and 1980s. Von Plato was the founding editor of BIOS. Zeitschrift für Biographieforschung, Oral History und Lebensverlaufsanalysen, Germany’s oral history journal, and the founding director of the Institute for History and Biography at the distance university Hagen, Germany’s largest oral history centre and archive. He was also instrumental in establishing and running the International Oral History Association. Retired since 2007, von Plato recently completed a major international oral history project on the experiences and memories of slave workers in Nazi-occupied Europe and continues to work on several oral history projects. To listen to the interview segments, download the mp3-files and play them on any media player. The article also contains a list of Alexander v. Plato’s publications.