Interview in Oral History of Sacred Defense-2

Mohammad Mahdi Abdollahzadeh
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


  According to many experts, interview is the heart of oral history and plays the role of the first brick in oral history. That’s why it is necessary even for people who have experience and knowledge in this field to acquire more knowledge, and modify and complement previously used methods. This necessity is more evident when we re-examine the interviews that were not conducted with the necessary standards.

  “What the Interviewer Should Do” were explained in the first part. In this part, I will address “what we should do in interview and as interviewee.”

What should we do in the interview?

  The output of a principled and systematic interview that has proceeded based on a certain plan will pass the compilation stage easily. The result of such interview has the necessary details and the interviewer, in cases where there was ambiguity, solved it by asking timely questions. Managing properly the interview session, the interviewer has guided the interview in a channel where the main content is memory and there are less irrelevant data or analyzes in the text.

  If the oral history interviewer is passive and silent, the result will be only taking memories. When the narrator is the conversation monopolizer and the interviewer does not have an active role during the interview, he/she will be a “memory-receiver” and not an “oral history researcher”; although the memories are detailed. The oral history interviewer enters the interview session with a previous study and plan, and while respecting the narrator, he/she challenges the narrator. He/she does not accept every word easily and asks for arguments and explanations. In this case, the interview will be challenging and active.

  For example, a narrator stated in a meeting that in one day he shot down two enemy helicopters in the operational area with RPG7 bullets. After finishing his words, the interviewer told him bravo, it is really interesting; but one point is that in such rare cases of war, we should document the contents. For example, we should conduct a short interview with the witnesses of this unique scene. Considering the fact that in these cases people were encouraged and got promotion in AJA, if you have a document, it will be necessary to include it in the documents section. With his silence, the narrator took this claim back and received this indirect message that he should express his memories within certain frameworks.

  In an oral history interview, two people talk. The interviewer must use all the knowledge and experience gained in this field as well as his communication skills during the interview to achieve the expected result. Oral history is the result of a conversation between two parties, who are involved in the production of an oral document, and it is worthwhile from a scientific point of view. This text is the result of two experiences, two knowledge, and two thoughts, which is obtained by the interaction of the narrator and the historian.

  In order to reach the oral history text, the interview text must go through the stages of implementation, archiving, control and confrontation, indexing, rationalization, research, validation, removing necessary items, etc. Observing these matters will help to reach a suitable and worthy text.


What should do the interviewee?

  When our topic is oral history of the sacred defense and more than forty years have passed since the beginning of the imposed war, most of the narrators or in other words the interviewees are about sixty years old or older; so, it is natural that the dust of oblivion may have covered many of their memories. In many cases, the pain and suffering of being war-disabled and injuries threw into the mix so that they cannot remember their memories well. For this reason, working in this field has certain subtleties.

  The interviewees of this area are generally old people. On the other hand, interviewers are often younger individuals who have likely only seen and read about the frontlines and war in films and books. This generational difference is problematic in establishing good relations with understanding and interaction. Maybe gaining experience and guidance from experienced people will lessen this problem.

  In some countries, the interviewees are paid for each hour of the interview. In our country, it has often been and is the case that the war-disabled consider it their duty to share their memories and have the necessary cooperation, but there are also cases where, for various reasons, they like to be paid for the time they spend. While this issue has not been considered in our laws.

  The specific intention of some narrators is also a problem. Some of them intend to express the memories in order to being seen and making propaganda for special purposes and such. Maybe some people narrate memories in order to create a good record for themselves.

  Some interviewees don't agree to be interviewed easily. Motivating these people is not an easy task and requires special communication skills to be able to empathize with them. In this context, the interviewer plays role of a cultural assistant so that the oral history interview to be proceeded in its true meaning; instead of just satisfying generalities to be expressed which lack value. As the saying goes talking needs benevolent heart and it is task of interviewer who must create these conditions.

  Although the interviewer has an important role in the oral history process, he/she is only a part of this process. The interviewee has a secondary role in this regard. Perhaps, novice interviewers who lack the necessary knowledge in this field have interviewed narrators who are strong in expressing memories and have vicissitudinous memories, and the result has been remarkable and well-received texts.

  On the one hand, it is important to pay attention to the fact that it is a necessity to address areas that others do not care. For example, recording memories of a soldier or Basiji is as important as recording the memories of an Amir (General in AJA) or Sardar (General in IRGC).


To be continued...


Number of Visits: 1717


Full Name:

Loss of Memory in Pahlavi Prisons

In total, [I was in prison] about 6 years in two arrests. For the first time after several years, a soldier arranged my escape. I do not know why! Maybe he was one of the influential elements of Islamic groups. They took me to the hospital for the treatment of my hand, which was broken due to the callousness of an officer.

Hajj Pilgrimage

I went on a Hajj pilgrimage in the early 1340s (1960s). At that time, few people from the army, gendarmerie and police went on a pilgrimage to the holy Mashhad and holy shrines in Iraq. It happened very rarely. After all, there were faithful people in the Iranian army who were committed to obeying the Islamic halal and haram rules in any situation, and they used to pray.

A section of the memories of a freed Iranian prisoner; Mohsen Bakhshi

Programs of New Year Holidays
Without blooming, without flowers, without greenery and without a table for Haft-sin , another spring has been arrived. Spring came to the camp without bringing freshness and the first days of New Year began in this camp. We were unaware of the plans that old friends had in this camp when Eid (New Year) came.

Attack on Halabcheh narrated

With wet saliva, we are having the lunch which that loving Isfahani man gave us from the back of his van when he said goodbye in the city entrance. Adaspolo [lentils with rice] with yoghurt! We were just started having it when the plane dives, we go down and shelter behind the runnel, and a few moments later, when the plane raises up, we also raise our heads, and while eating, we see the high sides ...