Checklist for Holocaust Research
- Read this book to determine the resources available to conduct
Holocaust research that apply to your particular situation. Check the
index for towns and concentration camps relevant to your specific
research. Appendixes A, B and C are not included in the index because
they are lists of towns. Check these sections, also.
- If you are not familiar with the circumstances surrounding the fate of
the Jews of the town where the survivors and/or victims lived before the
Holocaust, read a book on the history of the Holocaust that describes
these events. Two such books are Ghetto Anthology and
Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (see "Selected
- Determine if there is a yizkor book for the town in which the people of
interest lived. A list of towns for which yizkor books have been
published is in Appendix A. Consult the book to see if there is mention
of the individuals or family names you are researching.
- If the person(s) is a Holocaust victim and the fate is not known, write
to the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem to see if Pages of Testimony have
been submitted for that individual.
- Check the records of the International Tracing Service for information
about survivors and victims, either by writing to them using the Foreign
Inquiry Location Service of the American Red Cross or by consulting the
microfilm copy at Yad Vashem in person.
- Are the persons on victim lists? Where applicable, consult lists that exist
for Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary and other
- If searching for a survivor, write a letter to the organizations in various
countries that maintain lists of survivors or that assisted survivors in
relocating after World War II. They are described in the chapter titled
- Contact a local Holocaust Resource Center for information about the
latest resources found for Holocaust research. A list of Holocaust
Research Centers appears in Appendix E. If the local facility does not
have a book or record known to be available elsewhere, ask them to
secure a copy of the information for their permanent collection or as a
loan copy. New acquisitions are constantly being made and resource
sites regularly share their information.
- Consider asking for help from a Jewish genealogical society. Their
members are researching their families' histories. Because the Holocaust
has had such a profound affect on contemporary Jewish families,
members have developed expertise in Holocaust research. A list of
societies appears in Appendix F.
- If you have the option of either going to or writing to a major resource
center, go there in person. Many research sites are very conscientious
about processing mail inquiries, but the recipient of your request can
devote only a limited amount of time to your inquiry. If you go to the
facility, you can spend the hours necessary to peruse secondary sources
of information. Browse the catalog of the holdings of the facility. See if
there is information about any of the towns of interest. Some references
may include details about specific individuals that are not obvious in the
catalog description of the work. Cataloging is an imperfect process that,
to a certain extent, relies on the judgment of the cataloger. An example
is Record Group RG-15.019M at the U.S. Holocaust Research Institute.
Its description is "Court inquiries about executions and graves in
districts, provinces, camps and ghettos"--19 microfilm reels. Its purpose
is to document Nazi atrocities in Poland. The names of victims are given
in many cases.
- When writing to a research facility about a specific individual or family,
give as much information as possible--but be concise. Limit your letter
to facts about the individual, including exact name, date of birth (even
if year only or approximate year), place of birth, names of immediate
family members and last known residence address. Any information that
can uniquely identify the individual from the thousands, if not millions,
of pieces of information at the research site is important. Inadequate
information will prompt a rejection of your request, which will only
delay your research. Picture yourself at the facility trying to do the
research. Could you find the information requested given the
information you supplied?
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