If you suspect that some of your ancestors were caught in the Holocaust, there are many ways to research this horrific event. You may be unaware of the extent to which your family was caught in the Holocaust; genealogical research may find branches previously unknown.
Yad Vashem has been entrusted with documenting the history of the Jewish people during the Holocaust period. It'ss goal is to preserve the memory and story of each of the six million victims and impart the legacy of the Holocaust for generations to come. There is a fabulous InfoFile explaining the details at https://www.JewishGen.org/InfoFiles/YadVashem.htm
Yad Vashem sources include over 2 million Pages of Testimony (symbolic gravestones, submitted by family members, friends and witnesses); the first POT was formatted in 1955. The research can be initiated at http://db.yadvashem.org/names/search.html?language=en . Here you can search for victims by surname and town. When you search, use both the surname and the major town name. The query default for both towns and surnames uses a soundex. Find all the surnames in the area. If you find a Page of Testimony which is relevant for you, check out the “related searches” immediately below the description, as it will search for Pages from the same author or Pages with the surname and area.
There have been wonderful stories of reconnections stemming from contact with family members who have submitted Pages of Testimony, and some deeply moving stories. At an International Jewish Genealogy Conference in NYC it was brought home to me. One woman, who was sent here as a child, asked a volunteer to access the database for information about her parents. I was standing there when the volunteer broke into tears. The information was too tragic to relate to the woman. We all cried a bit that day.
Yad Vashem also has Shoah Related Lists where the material is organized by the town and references all survivors and victims, regardless of country or religion. I use it primarily for town information. For instance, I found the list of survivors above from one of my ancestral towns. Go directly to http://collections1.yadvashem.org/search.asp?lang=ENG&rsvr=17
ShoahConnect: www.shoahconnect.org was created in 2008 by Logan Kleinwaks, to encourage folks who have found connections to any of Yad Vashem’s Pages of Testimony, to register a link to a specific page, thus enabling family members to reunite. ShoahConnect is completely free to use and protects your privacy.
Survivor’s Testimonies: USC Shoah Foundate, Yale University and
The USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive http://vhaonline.usc.edu/login. Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation lists the sites with videos http://sfi.usc.edu/locator/full_access_sites; some videos are online and you can search by town or surname. Keep in mind the videos are often a mixture of Polish and Yiddish.
The Yale University has the Fortunoff collection of videos at https://web.library.yale.edu/testimonies. This site has a list of partner locations where you can view the videos.
The Tarnopol Archive contains the Foundation for Polish Jews; these are holocaust recollections of survivors (fond 301) and are over one million records.
YIVO and USHMM also collect these testimonies also (see below)
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum collects written testimonies for their archives, where they are cataloged and made accessible to researchers and other genealogists. Megan Lewis is the Reference Librarian and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 202.314.7860. But please, try the site first before you contact her.
The UHSMM led a multi-year effort to open the archive, and in 2007 the 11 nations of the ITS governing board agreed. Much of this collection exists at Yad Vashem and USHMM on microfilm. You can contact the ITS via their web site http://www.its-arolsen.org/en/homepage/index.html. Humanitarian Requests receive priority and they promise a response within 30 days.
The Inventory is available at www.its-arolsen.org, Yad Vashem and through the USHMM (which has translated the original German, to English) at http://resources.ushmm.org/itsinventory/home.php. The USHMM will search for documents in the records of the International Tracing Service and other digitized collections of the Museum free of charge to survivors, their families, and families of victims. As of 2018 the ITS is beginning to put its catalog and some information online.
The ITS recently placed the CM.1 Germany collection including information on survivors online for free access. These are questionnaires from 196,000 files created by displaced persons primarily in Germany and Poland, seeking assistance. The files are indexed by name. To view the index of persons see: https://digitalcollections.its-arolsen.org/03020101/name/list. The index is alphabetic, but you can use the search box in the upper right.
This database includes both victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Names were accumulated from lists including census reports, transport lists, hospital records, ghetto lists, survivor lists, orphanage records, police records, and so on. There are no Pages of Testimony. Note that every component database has a detailed explanation with additional information that can be read by clicking on the database name. Note too that most of these records are available through Ancestry.com.
Video on holocaust sites by Nolan Altman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2r28mSBA2A
There are over 2000 Yizkor Books; the majority were written in Hebrew or Yiddish, languages that many contemporary genealogists cannot understand. Now more than 80 of them have been fully translated into English in the Yizkor Books project of JewishGen and appear on the project web site https://www.JewishGen.org/Yizkor/ along with partially translated books.
The Project has the following subsections:
The New York Public Library has a wonderful site for digitized Yizkor books at http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/jws/yizkorbooks_intro.cfm. Most are written in Hebrew or Yiddish.
The Museum of Family History has a fairly complete list of camps at http://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/h-cc-directory.htm and photographs from Auschwitz (Oswiecim), Dachau, Majdanek, Theresienstadt (Terezin), Treblinka, Struthof, Drancy and Le Camp des Milles at http://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/h-cc.htm.
In 2017 the USHMM announced the Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945, which can be downloaded from https://www.ushmm.org/research/publications/encyclopedia-camps-ghettos.
Stolen Books: Jan Meisels Allen also published a comprehensive article on the Hunt for Millions of Books Stolen By Nazis. She listed the following sites: • The German Lost Art Foundation which publishes descriptions of books with photos when their owners cannot be located See: https://www.kulturgutverluste.de/Webs/EN/Start/Index.html • The Claims Conference funds this site: https://www.errproject.org/guide.php. The National Library of Israel helped to catalog the items • To read the New York Times article on this see: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/arts/nazi-loot-on-library-shelves.html
Historic Synagogues of Europe at http://cja.huji.ac.il/ presents inventory and photographs from the Center for Jewish Art of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; this website was sponsored by the Foundation for Jewish Heritage.
French Sites: Polish Jews in the French Army 1939 at www.memoiredeshommes.sga.defense.gouv.fr/fr/article.php?larub=&titre=seconde-guerre-mondiale Jews Deported from France: http://www.lesmortsdanslescamps.com/indexfr.html French Children of the Holocaust: https://phdn.org/archives/holocaust-history.org/klarsfeld/French%20Children/html&graphics/F005.shtml and surnames and locality index via SteveMorse.org/france
Austrian Victims of the Holocaust: www.doew.at/english/austrian-victims-of-the-Holocaust
Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance was founded in 1963 to collect and archive source material. The DOW Exhibition: The permanent collection of the DÖW was funded by the City of Vienna and is fascinating: http://ausstellung.de.doew.at/. This includes an oral history collection of over 2800 tapes.
Polish Karta: Deportees to the USSR: http://indeksrepresjonowanych.pl/ is a Polish site (best to use Chrome to translate) with an index of over one million deportees to the USSR from Poland, including many Jews. Click on Wyszukiwie to search by surname.
UK: Sikorsky Museum has information about Polish exiles during World War II; http://www.sikorskymuseum.co.uk .
During 1940-41 the Jews in Zmigrod Nowy suffered from administrative and economic restrictions and forced labor. The Jews of the entire area were concentrated in the city, and in the summer of 1942 over 1200 Jews were killed (see the story of Halbow, above). Later about 500 people were sent to the Plaszow labor camp, where many of them met their death. The remnants of the community were sent to the Belzec Death camp in the autumn of 1942.
Max Findling has explained the difference between a labor camp and a concentration camp. In the labor camp, the Jews were sent out to work, and the guards were not gestapo.
At the end of 1941 the County of Cracau was divided in the Town of Cracau (Kreisfreie Stadt Krakau) and twelve districts. Of these districts the following towns had the largest Jewish population:
1. Debica district: Debica (2200), Baranów (680), Mielec (abt. 3500), Pilzno (788), Radomysl Wielki (1300), Ropczyce (1200), Rozwadów (3000), Sedziszów (100), Tarnobrzeg (2800)
2. Jaroslaw district: Jaroslaw (abt. 8000), Grodzisko Dolne (abt. 750), Kanczuga (abt. 1000), Lezajsk (3000), Lancut (3000), Pruchnik (0976), Przeworsk (1400), Sieniawa (1300), Zolynia (600)
3. Jaslo district: Jaslo (3000), Biecz (856), Bobowa (658), Brzostek (abt. 500), Frysztak (1322), Gorlice (3353), Zmigród Nowy (800).
4. Cracau district: Bochnia (2500), Myslenice (850), Niepolomice (480), Wisnicz Nowy (1000), Wieliczka (1500)
5. Krosno district: Krosno (2500), Brzozów (in Oct. 1939: 920), entire municipality of Domaradz (830), Dukla (1600), Dynów (abt. 1500), Jasienica Rosielna (490), Jasliska (330), Korczyna (abt. 600), Rymanów (1600)
6. Miechów district: Miechów (1800), Brzesko Nowe (300), Dzialoszyce (4574), Koszyce (more than 1000), Ksiaz Wielka (850), Slomniki (1250), Wolbrom (abt. 3400), Zanowiec n/Dunajcem (615)
7. Nowy Sacz district: Nowy Sacz (10,675), Dobra (340), Grybów (800), Kranica (1300), Limanowa (800), Mszana Dolna (780), Muszyna (748), Stary Sacz (434)
8. Nowy Targ district: Nowy Targ (2200), Jordanów (more than 350), Kroscienko n/Dunajcem (282), Maków Podhalanski (more than 320), Rabka (more than 450), Szczawica (343), Zakopane (2900)
9. Przemysl district: Przemysl (18,000), Dubiecko (2150)
10. Rzeszów district: Rzeszów (14,000), Blazowa (768), Czudes (abt. 380), Glogów (597), Kolbuszowa Dolna and Górna (abt. 1600), Majdan Kolbuszowski (1000), Niebylec (450), Sokolów Malopolski (more than 1600), Strzyzów (1050)
11. Sanok district: Sanok (4770), Baligród (abt. 880), Bukowsko (750), Lesko (abt. 2750), Lutowiska (1420), Mrzyglód (more than 520), Ustrzyki Dolne (in July, 1942: abt. 3000)
12. Tarnów district: Tarnów (25,600), Brzesko-Slotwina (2120), Dabrowa Tarnowska (2400), Gromnik (together with Gumniska: abt. 420), Ryglice (305), Zakliczyn n/D. (more than 330), Zabno (600). (87-88)
Before September 1939 more than 250,000 Jews lived on the territory of these districts. Because of the influx of more than 20,000 Jewish people to these territories (from Lodz, Silesia and Kalisz) and at the same time the outflux of thousands to the Soviet Union, there was a Jew. population of about 215,000 in April, 1940. In May, 1941 the Jew. population had gone down to 200,000, as a consequence of the outflux to the Lublin area. In June, 1940 Cracau had still abt. 67,000, but in May, 1941 only about 11,000 Jews. (89)
The first ghetto of the Cracau county was installed in Cracau, on March 21, 1941. (91)
While in 1941 the Jew. population was either evacuated to towns in other regions and/or concentrated in ghettos, the evacuations of 1942 became the nature of deportations for extermination. During selections, people were divided into groups of old and ill or children, who were taken to the woods and shot. After the extermination camp of Belzec had been established (March, 1942), the majority of the Jews of the Cracau county were killed there. (92)
In April, 1942, not only in the County of Cracau, hundreds of people, who were supposed to be members of left-wing organizations, were taken out of their homes and shot on cemeteries. (93) In May, 1942, about 5,000 inhabitants of the Cracau ghetto were deported to Belzec or murdered before getting there. And in June, 1942, a part of the Jew. population of Tarnów and vicinity was either shot on the cemetery, or deported to Belzec. In this "Aussiedlungs-aktion" 11,000 people were killed. In July, 1942 the Nazis liquidated the ghettos of Zmigród and Frysztak. More than 1,000 Jews of Zmigród were murdered in the woods (AZIH affidavit 1764 - Mojzesz Einhorn).
>From the middle of July until November, 1942 the Nazis systematically liquidated all the ghettos by deporting its inhabitants to extermination camps or shooting them on cemeteries or in neighboring woods. (94)
The first district, of which the population was to be exterminated, was that of Rzeszów. Between July 7-13, 1942, the Nazis deported 22,000 Jews to Belzec. 238 people were murdered in town, and about 1,000 were killed in the woods of Rudna (between Rzeszów and Glogów). Those, who stayed in the ghetto, worked in German factories, or belonged to the Judenrat. On August 7, 1942 1,000 women and children were taken from the Rzeszów ghetto to the camp of Pelkinie, where they were murdered shortly after their arrival. After these deportations the Rzeszów district was "judenrein". The few thousand Jews, who were still alive, were imprisoned in the so-called "small ghetto" of Rzeszów.
By the end of July, 1942 more than 12,000 inhabitants of the ghettos in the Tarnów district were deported to Belzec. Only a certain amount of Jews stayed in the ghetto of Debica, and in some of the larger working camps.
>From July 27 until August 3, 1942 the majority of the 10,000 Jews in the Przemysl district was deported to Belzec. Only a few thousand stayed in the ghetto of Przemysl. (95)
At the beginning of August, 1942, after the Jew. population of Lancut, Lezajsk, Zolyn, Radymno and of other ghettos had been taken to the camp of Pelkinie, 10,000 of them were deported to Belzec. The remaining Jews of the Jaroslaw district were concentrated in the ghetto of Sieniawa, before they were exterminated at the end of August, 1942.
In the district of Krosno the occupiers concentrated the Jew. population in the ghettos of Brzozów, Dukla, Jasienica Rosielna, Korczyna, Rymanów, before they were deported in the middle of August, 1942.
The next people, who were exterminated, came from the Nowy Sacz district. After murdering selections, 16,000 Jews, who were concentrated in the ghetto of Nowy Sacz, were deported to Belzec within three days at the end of August, 1942.
The deportations in the Nowy Targ district took place on August 28-30, 1942. Together with the entire Jew. population of Maków Podhalanski, Szczawnica and Rabka, about 2,500 people from NowyTarg were taken to Belzec. (96)
Before being deported, the Jew. population of the Miechów district was concentrated in a provisional camp in Slomniki. During selections 1,500 young men were taken apart and afterwards sent to a working camp in Prokocim (Julag II). Older and ill people were shot immediately. The remaining Jews were deported to Belzec in September, 1942. Those people, who remained in several smaller ghettos of this district, were murdered in November.
In the first half of September, 1942 the Jews of the Sanok district were exterminated. In order to concentrate the population of this district, a special camp was established in Plonna (Szczawne). Because the occupiers thought it too difficult to take people from remote villages like Olsznica, Stefkowa, Wankowa, Ropienka, Czarna, etc. to Plonna, entire families were shot on the spot. Others were taken to the working camp in Zaslawie, where about 11,000 people were packed together in barracks meant for 500. After a few days 4,000 of them were deported to Belzec, the old people were shot in the woods. Not much later two transports with about 9,000 people left Zaslawie for Belzec. (97)
The remaining Jews of the Tarnów district, about 7,000-8,000 inhabitants of the ghettos of Tarnów, Brzesk, Dabrowa Tarnowska, Tuchów, Zakliczyn and Zabna were deported to Belzec in September, 1942. (98) >From June until November, 1942 the German occupiers exterminated about 100,000 Jews of the Cracau County.
The remaining Jews were concentrated in five ghettos: in Cracau, Tarnów, Przemysl, Bochnia, and Rzeszów. In 1943 and 1944 they were deported to working camps (Plaszów and others), to Auschwitz, or to camps in Germany (Flossenburg), where they were killed or died of starvation.
Few people survived the extermination camps, and only a small number of Jews could leave the camps in Germany. Only those, who fled into the woods and joined the partisans, had a chance to survive.
(Source: Summary of E. Podhorizer-Sandel's article in ZIH-Biuletyn 1959 No. 30, p. 87-109)To Return to the Shtetl Page, click your "BACK" key
(Source: Glówna Komisja Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce - Rada Ochrony Pomników Walki i Meczenstwa - Obozy hitlerowskie na ziemiach polskich 1939-1945, Warsaw 1979) (translated from Polish in April, 1998)
In July, 1942 the Nazis liquidated the ghettos of Zmigród and Frysztak. More than 1,000 Jews of Zmigród were murdered in the woods (AZIH affidavit 1764 - Mojzesz Einhorn)
From the middle of July until November, 1942 the Nazis systematically liquidated all the ghettos by deporting its inhabitants to extermination camps or shooting them in cemeteries or in neighboring woods.In the district of Krosno the occupiers concentrated the Jewish population in the ghettos of Brzozów, Dukla, Jasienica Rosielna, Korczyna, Rymanów, before they were deported in the middle of August, 1942. The next people, who were exterminated, came from the Nowy Sacz district. After murdering selections, 16,000 Jews, who were concentrated in the ghetto of Nowy Sacz, were deported to Belzec within three days at the end of August, 1942. In the first half of September, 1942 the Jews of the Sanok district were exterminated. In order to concentrate the population of this district, a special camp was established in Plonna (Szczawne). Because the occupiers thought it too difficult to take people from remote villages like Olsznica, Stefkowa, Wankowa, Ropienka, Czarna, etc. to Plonna, entire families were shot on the spot. Others were taken to the working camp in Zaslawie, where about 11,000 people were packed together in barracks meant for 500. After a few days 4,000 of them were deported to Belzec, the old people were shot in the woods. Not much later two transports with about 9,000 people left Zaslawie for Belzec. Few people survived the extermination camps, and only a small number of Jews could leave the camps in Germany. Only those, who fled into the woods and joined the partisans, had a chance to survive. (Summary of E. Podhorizer-Sandel's article in ZIH-Biuletyn 1959 No. 30, p. 87-109) (translated from Polish in April, 1998) To Return to the Shtetl Page, click your "BACK" key
Yad Vashem was created in 1953 by the Israeli Knesset. Its purpose is to document the history of the Jewish People during the Holocaust period. The collection includes over 60 million documents, photographs and videotapes. The Hall of Names is a tribute to the victims of that terrible tragedy, and one of its purposes is to record the names of those victims. There are over 2 million "Pages of Testimony", submitted by family,friends and witnesses; these pages can be viewed quite easily online at http://www.yadvashem.org
If you are not able to view the pages you seek, the following is the information we have received on how to order Pages of Testimony from Yad Vashem. It is our understanding that no payment is required in advance. Yad Vashem will send the copies by regular postal mail, along with a request for payment. The fee is 50 cents (US) per page plus postage.
You can request pages by family surnames and towns. Please note that Yad Vashem will NOT do genealogical research, they simply don't have the personnel. So you must send all the information you have for your surnames, by town. If the names are linked by obvious information, such as a page for your cousin showing his father's name, they will send you the page for his father if it exists. If you have no information other than a surname, you can request a search of that surname with the towns.
Here is a sample: Please send me copies of Pages of Testimony for the SURNAME, FIRST NAME, Approximate date of birth, place of birth, occupation, name of parents, children, spouse (and any information you have about their whereabouts during the war).
Also note that you can submit a page of testimony by downloading a blank from http://www.yadvashem.org.ilTo Return to the Shtetl Page, click your "BACK" key
Up until 2019, Phyllis Kramer (OBM) developed and maintained this KahilaLink. Phyllis did a wonderful job documenting and sharing information about this shtetl. Starting in July 2021 Jeff Alexander is trying to fill Phyllis’ shoes. Please contact Jeff Alexander for anything related to this shtetl
Copyright © (2022) Jeffrey Alexander. All rights