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1. I lost relatives during the Holocaust but I don’t know their names. How do I start looking for them?

2. I lost relatives during the Holocaust but I don't know what community they came from. How do I start looking for them?

3. Can I search the Survivors Registry online?

4. I’m doing a report on the Holocaust for a school project. Can you put me in touch with a Holocaust survivor?

5. What do I need to get restitution from Germany? Can you help me with my restitution claim?

6. Can you provide names to read aloud during Days of Remembrance ceremonies?

7. How do I find out about my relatives who lived in Europe before the Holocaust?

8. How do I register those who did not survive the Holocaust?

9. How many survivors are there today?

10. Why can’t I contact survivors directly?

11. How is a Holocaust survivor defined?

12. Why isn’t there a database of victims?

13. How can I use the Registry for research if I am not able to come to the Museum?

14. If I know someone who is a survivor, how can I get him or her to register?

15. If I have already given oral testimony at the Shoah Foundation, why should I still register here?

16. Can I obtain copies of the documents held at the International Tracing Service Archives in Bad Arolsen, Germany?

 

1. I lost relatives during the Holocaust but I don’t know their names. How do I start looking for them?

Books on Genealogy
The following resources are recommended by JewishGen and the National Genealogical Society:

  • Croom, Emily Anne. Unpuzzling Your Past: A Basic Guide to Genealogy. White Hall, Va.: Betterway Publishers, 1983.
  • Doane, Gilbert H. and James B. Bell. Searching for Your Ancestors: The How and Why of Genealogy. 6th ed. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992.
  • Kurzweil, Arthur. From Generation to Generation: How to Trace Your Jewish Genealogy and Personal History. Revised Edition. (New York: Harper Collins, 1994). 388 pages.
  • Rottenberg, Dan. Finding Our Fathers: A Guidebook to Jewish Genealogy. (New York: Random House, 1977). 401 pages.

The Registry staff also recommends these resources:

  • Mokotoff, Gary. How to document victims and locate survivors of the Holocaust. (Teaneck, NJ : Avotaynu,c1995)
  • Weiner, Miriam. Poland and Archiwa Państwowe. Jewish roots in Poland : pages from the past and archival inventories. (New York, N.Y. : YIVO Institute for Jewish Research ; Secaucus, N.J. : The Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots, Inc., c1997)
  • Weiner, Miriam; Ukraine Holovne arkhivne upravlinnia and Arhiva Nationala a Republicii Moldovei. Jewish roots in Ukraine and Moldova : pages from the past and archival inventories (Secaucus, N.J. : Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation ; New York, N.Y. : YIVO Institute for Jewish Research,c1999)

JewishGen
http://www.jewishgen.org/ (external link)
This non-profit organization provides valuable research tools, such as the JewishGen Discussion Group, the JewishGen Family Finder (external link; a database of over 200,000 surnames and towns), the comprehensive directory of InfoFiles (external link), ShtetLinks (external link) for over 200 communities, an online Family Tree of the Jewish People (external link) contains data on nearly two million people, and a variety of databases such as the ShtetlSeeker (external link) and Jewish Records Indexing-Poland (external link). Also of value are Yizkor books, which were, according to JewishGen, “written after the Holocaust as memorials to Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust. They were usually put together by survivors from those communities and contain descriptions and histories of the shtetl, biographies of prominent people, lists of people who perished, etc. They are often embellished with photos, maps, and other memorabilia.” JewishGen has many translated versions of these books available online, along with listings of institutions who have copies of them.

Latter Day Saints “Family History Center”
The LDS website has information about their family history centers: http://www.familysearch.org (external link), or you can call Family History Support at 1.800.346.6044, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time, Monday–Saturday.

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2. I lost relatives during the Holocaust but I don't know what community they came from. How do I start looking for them?

An excellent place to start looking for information about your family is older family members. If no one remembers the name of the community in Europe your relative came from, start looking for information about the generation who left Europe. Documents such as death certificates, naturalization papers, birth certificates, and Social Security applications often contain valuable information.

The name of a country is usually not enough to start looking for relatives. Not only are many Holocaust-related sources based on communities rather than countries, but also the borders for many countries have changed over the years. For example, someone who came to the United States as an Austrian citizen in 1910 today could have been from Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Poland, or part of the former Yugoslavia.

For more hints, visit the website of JewishGen, which provides valuable research tools, such as the JewishGen Discussion Group, the JewishGen Family Finder (external link; a database of over 200,000 surnames and towns), the comprehensive directory of InfoFiles (external link), ShtetLinks (external link) for over 200 communities, an online Family Tree of the Jewish People (external link) contains data on nearly two million people, and a variety of databases such as the ShtetlSeeker (external link) and Jewish Records Indexing-Poland (external link).

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3. Can I search the Survivors Registry online?

The Registry of Holocaust Survivors is not made available over the Internet in order to maintain the privacy of the survivors and their families. However, if you will send us the names you are looking for, we will gladly check the Registry for you. Please also send us your postal address so we can mail you copies of any matches we may find.

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4. I’m doing a report on the Holocaust for a school project. Can you put me in touch with a Holocaust survivor?

The Survivors Registry does not release the addresses, phone numbers or other contact information of the survivors in our database in order to protect their privacy. A good place to start would be to contact local synagogues or a local Jewish genealogical society. Either of these organizations may have suggestions for survivor contacts resources in your immediate area. You may also want to check with any Holocaust organizations in your area to see if they know of a survivor who would be willing to speak with you. There is an international directory of Holocaust institutions on the website of the
International Holocaust Remembrance Allliance (external link).

If you would like to arrange for a Holocaust survivor to come to your school to speak on his or her experiences, please visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Speaker’s Bureau.

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5. What do I need to get restitution from Germany? Can you help me with my restitution claim?

Different survivors are eligible for different compensation plans. For information on which plan you are eligible for, please visit the following websites:

While the Registry can not provide assistance in filling out forms or in answering questions about specific compensation programs, it can help by searching the archival and other available sources for documentation to be submitted with a claim. For further information or to use this service, please contact the Registry.

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6. Can you provide names to read aloud during Days of Remembrance ceremonies?

The Registry has prepared a collection of selected lists containing over 4,000 names of Jewish victims and non-Jewish victims (Roma [Gypsies], Jehovah’s witnesses, homosexuals and political prisoners) that we can provide to you. Yad Vashem has also prepared lists of victims from their Pages of Testimony collection. Visit the download page (external link) at Yad Vashem, or view the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website on Days of Remembrance.

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7. How do I find out about my relatives who lived in Europe before the Holocaust?

Unfortunately, the Registry does not have resources that can help you find information on people living before the Holocaust. There are several organizations that can help you with this type of family history research. Here are two such organizations:

JewishGen
http://www.jewishgen.org/ (external link)

This non-profit organization provides valuable research tools, such as the JewishGen Discussion Group, the JewishGen Family Finder (external link; a database of over 200,000 surnames and towns), the comprehensive directory of InfoFiles (external link), ShtetLinks (external link) for over 200 communities, an online Family Tree of the Jewish People (external link) contains data on nearly two million people, and a variety of databases such as the ShtetlSeeker and Jewish Records Indexing-Poland. Also of value are Yizkor books, which were, according to JewishGen, “written after the Holocaust as memorials to Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust. They were usually put together by survivors from those communities and contain descriptions and histories of the shtetl, biographies of prominent people, lists of people who perished, etc. They are often embellished with photos, maps, and other memorabilia.” JewishGen has many translated versions of these books available online, along with listings of institutions who have copies of them.

Genealogy Institute at the Center for Jewish History
http://genealogy.cjh.org/ (external link)

Center for Jewish History Genealogy Institute
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
Tel: 212.294.8318
E-mail: gi@cjh.org

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8. How do I register those who did not survive the Holocaust?

The Registry of Holocaust Survivors does not collect the names of those who perished during the Holocaust, but rather those who did survive. The Hall of Names at Yad Vashem in Israel records the names of family and friends who did not survive. Their forms, called Pages of Testimony, can be requested via mail or through their website.

Hall of Names
Yad Vashem
P.O.B 3477
Jerusalem 91034 Israel
http://www.yadvashem.org/ (external link)

Two million Pages of Testimony have been digitized and are now available on-line as part of Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names (external link).

The Museum’s Archives is a great place to register people who did not survive, as long as a story or context along with the names can be provided.

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9. How many survivors are there today?

Estimates of the number of remaining survivors vary greatly and depend in part on how one defines a survivor. The Museum honors as survivors any persons, Jewish or non-Jewish, who were displaced, persecuted, or discriminated against due to the racial, religious, ethnic, and political policies of the Nazis and their allies between 1933 and 1945. In addition to former inmates of concentration camps, ghettos, and prisons, this definition includes, among others, people who were refugees or were in hiding.

The Registry of Holocaust Survivors currently contains the names of over 195,000 survivors and family members and we are adding more every day. A growing number of these individuals, who registered their names and historical information over the last 15 years, are now deceased.

The Registry is a voluntary and testimonial list, and is by no means a comprehensive list of all survivors. Furthermore, most of the survivors in our database live in the United States or Canada, although we have registrations from survivors and family members from 59 countries.

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10. Why can’t I contact survivors directly?

In order to protect the privacy of the survivors listed in our database, the Registry does not give out addresses or phone numbers of survivors. However, in some cases the Registry of Holocaust Survivors will act as a third party and forward messages to survivors through our Third Party Contact Form (PDF). Before completing this form, please contact us at Resource-Center@ushmm.org to check that the survivor you wish to contact is registered with us, and that we have current contact information for the survivor. Third-party contacts will be reviewed by the Registry staff before a decision is made to forward it to a survivor. The decision to respond to a message is strictly voluntary and up to the survivor. Responses should come directly to the person who made the original request.

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11. How is a Holocaust survivor defined?

The Museum honors as survivors any persons, Jewish or non-Jewish, who were displaced, persecuted, or discriminated against due to the racial, religious, ethnic, social, and political policies of the Nazis and their collaborators between 1933 and 1945. In addition to former inmates of concentration camps, ghettos, and prisons, this definition includes, among others, people who were refugees or were in hiding.

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12. Why isn’t there a database of victims?

There is no single list of those known to have perished during the Holocaust. Instead, there are many lists created during the Holocaust that can help one discover the fate of individuals during this time period. There are also resources that have been created since the end of the Holocaust, such as Yizkor (memorial) books, which also can help those searching for information concerning relatives. The complicated and fragmentary nature of the historical documents prevents the possibility of any complete database of the names and fates of each individual Holocaust victim.

The Museum hosts the Holocaust Survivors and Victims Database, one of the largest resources of its kind, centralizing information from the Museum’s collections about individual survivors and victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution. The database includes millions of personal records from the Museum’s extensive collections that could assist in researching the fates of individuals during the Holocaust.

The Hall of Names (external link) at Yad Vashem in Israel houses Pages of Testimony submitted by friends or relatives of those who perished. The Registry can provide forms in French, Russian, German, Romanian and Polish, as well as Hebrew and English. The website includes downloadable forms in English and Hebrew as well as information about searching for names.

Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names (external link) contains millions of names of Holocaust victims, including 2.6 million Pages of Testimony, names taken from historical documents, and names listed in commemorative projects.

The genealogical website JewishGen also has a Holocaust Database (external link) which contains over 900,000 entries from over 70 different sources.

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13. How can I use the Registry for research if I am not able to come to the museum?

The Registry is happy to answer your research questions via telephone, letter, or e-mail. (We prefer written requests, whether by letter or e-mail).

In order to conduct this research, we need the following information for each sought person:

  • Full name, including maiden names or nicknames
  • Date of birth (an approximate year is fine)
  • Town and country of residence before the war and/or birth. The town name is important as most records are organized by town, not country.

The more details provided the more in-depth research we can do. Please also tell us what other sources you have already consulted. We will limit research of requests that include only a surname or a country to searches of various electronic databases.

Lastly, the Registry of Holocaust Survivors asks for complete name and postal address of each individual who requests information concerning relatives lost in the Holocaust. Research will not start until we have received this information.

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14. If I know someone who is a survivor, how can I get him or her to register?

You may tell him or her to contact us and we will be happy to send a registration form. Registration forms are also available online and in several languages.

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15. If I have already given oral testimony at the Shoah Foundation, why should I still register here?

Although this Museum has become a repository for the Shoah Foundation testimonies, the names of the survivors who gave testimonies are not available on the Registry database. We only register those persons who asked to be registered with us specifically.

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16. Can I obtain copies of the documents held at the International Tracing Service Archives in Bad Arolsen, Germany?

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum welcomes the decision by the International Commission of the International Tracing Service (ITS) to permit each of the eleven nations on the Commission to receive copies of the records held at its archive in Bad Arolsen, Germany and the designation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as the repository for the United States.

Regrettably, for a variety of reasons, the Museum is unable to make these documents available on the Internet. You may request a search from our trained staff. You are also welcome to come to the Museum and conduct your own search, but please keep in mind that these records were never intended to be made public and are not the easiest with which to work.

Thank you for your interest and patience.

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