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How to Document Victims and Locate Survivors of the Holocaust

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    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 Bibliography").

    • 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 areas.

    • 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 "Locating Survivors."

    • 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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