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Interviewing War Veterans

Article about: I am going to Norway where I might have the possibility to interview a veteran of the battle of Narvik. I am going to upload the video to youtube, together with translation (in the video) an

  1. #1
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    Default Interviewing War Veterans

    I am going to Norway where I might have the possibility to interview a veteran of the battle of Narvik.

    I am going to upload the video to youtube, together with translation (in the video) and share here on the forums.

    The question is: What questions to answer? I've seen hundreds of documenteries with Veterans and it came to my mind that I actually never seen a intervew where you hear the interviewer? Quit strange...

    It seems like it can also be a thing line to walk, because you don't want to ask questions that could offend or upset the person you are interviewing..

    Any advices are welcome!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Interviewing War Veterans

    I always let them do the talking...the questions will come on their own...a few drinks might help too. The stories I've been told by veterans, especially the german ones, will be in my heart forever...
    cheers, Glenn

  3. #3

    Default Re: Interviewing War Veterans

    Can't help too much with questions, but I eagerly await the video.

    Best of luck,
    Josh

  4. #4

    Default Re: Interviewing War Veterans

    I have done a number of oral histories over the years. A few things I would suggest are:
    -Know your subject well. Take the time to know as much about your subject as possible and have a number of good questions prepared ahead of time. Also make sure to have done your research about the event they were a part of. Having this detailed knowledge will help you understand the context of some things the person might say. I've also found that people seem to open up a lot more if they know you've done your homework. Having this background information will also help you generate new questions that relate to the stories that the person is telling.
    -Most importantly, just be a good, empathetic listener. You asked about questions that could upset or offend. I think that you will clearly see what kind of questions you can ask about difficult subjects just by being a good listener. Others will be clear about telling you what they do not want to talk about. One of the most telling (and shortest) interviews I ever had was with a former 101st Airborne paratrooper in regards to the D-Day jump. I asked him if he'd be willing to discuss his experiences and he said "No. It was worse than you could ever imagine. War is a horrible, horrible thing".
    -I would avoid serving alcohol but doing the interview over coffee or lunch might be nice.
    -Record and then save and back up the interview.
    Good luck with your interview!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Interviewing War Veterans

    Quote by tud jones View Post
    I have done a number of oral histories over the years. A few things I would suggest are:
    -Know your subject well. Take the time to know as much about your subject as possible and have a number of good questions prepared ahead of time. Also make sure to have done your research about the event they were a part of. Having this detailed knowledge will help you understand the context of some things the person might say. I've also found that people seem to open up a lot more if they know you've done your homework. Having this background information will also help you generate new questions that relate to the stories that the person is telling.
    -Most importantly, just be a good, empathetic listener. You asked about questions that could upset or offend. I think that you will clearly see what kind of questions you can ask about difficult subjects just by being a good listener. Others will be clear about telling you what they do not want to talk about. One of the most telling (and shortest) interviews I ever had was with a former 101st Airborne paratrooper in regards to the D-Day jump. I asked him if he'd be willing to discuss his experiences and he said "No. It was worse than you could ever imagine. War is a horrible, horrible thing".
    -I would avoid serving alcohol but doing the interview over coffee or lunch might be nice.
    -Record and then save and back up the interview.
    Good luck with your interview!
    Thank you very much!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Interviewing War Veterans

    I agree with Tud Jones. I have done several interviews with WW2 Vets concerning my Uncle's and their service in the AAF and their experience in being shot down and taken prisoners and their time in Stalag 17B. Know everything you can about the subject matter.It lets them know that you are not just another person wanting to hear some war stories. LISTEN, they will talk about it. Have a recorder, because alot of times they will have hours of memories to share and you don't want to chance what they tell you to be forgotten.Let them tell you their story,let them talk,don't interupt. Wait till the end of their story when they ask you ,is there anything else you want to know! Then its time for questions!!! ENJOY!!!!
    Semper Fi
    Phil

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