Nu? What's New?
The E-zine of Jewish Genealogy
Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 6, Number 12 | August 28, 2005

Do You Want Your Family History To Be on Television?
A company called First Flight Productions wants to produce a television series called "Across Generations" that will chronicle unusual stories genealogists have uncovered in their research into their families' history. They are interested in a "great human adventure story surrounding your family's history and heritage." Their web site at has examples of what they call stories with a real "wow factor". If chosen, the initial part of the process will involve a video interview, and the guest will be asked to appear on camera and to be identified. Should they decide to acquire the rights to a story, compensation will be negotiated.

Online Polish Gazetteer
If you cannot find a town that was in Poland between World War I and World War II, Digital Library of Wielkopolska has placed online a Polish gazetteer from that period. Its title is Skorowidz miejscowosci Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej z oznaczeniem terytorjalnie im wlasciwych wladz i urzedow oraz urzadzen komunikacyjnych (Index of place names of the Republic of Poland with corresponding governmental agencies and offices, including communication facilities). It is located at To view it, click on the icon of the British flag to get an English language version of the page. Then click on "Content" on the left, below "Publication." Viewing requires the DjVu plugin. [Reported by Logan Kleinwaks]

Online Information About German Soldiers Killed in the Two World Wars
Information about German soldiers killed or missing in action during World War I and World War II is now online at Search parameters are surname (Nachname), given name (Vorname), date of birth (Geburtsdatum) and date of death/missing (Todes-/Vermisstendatum). For World War II persons only, it is possible to list all persons from a given place of birth (Geburtsort).

Initial information provided is name, birth date, date of death or date missing. Clicking on the name adds rank and places of birth and death. There is also a narrative that identifies, where possible, the grave site of the soldier. For example, an Arthur Davidsohn, who was killed in action on December 21, 1917, is buried in the cemetery at Menen, Belgium. There is even a link to a site that has information about the cemetery.

Many German Jews served their country during World War I. Of those not killed in action, many died in concentration camps during World War II.

NARA Has Online Lists of People
The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration has a number of databases online that are lists of information about individuals. Most are military records for World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The one that might be of greatest interest is World War II Army Enlistment Records. The list of records groups and links to their search engines are located at

Summer Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Summer issue of AVOTAYNU is at the printers. The lead article is a status report by Peter Landé on efforts to provide public access to the Holocaust records located at the International Tracing Service in Arolsen, Germany. This institution has more than 50 million records that identify a person at a given place at a given time during the Holocaust period. It is estimated that they have information on 14 million people, both victims and survivors. ITS has refused to allow distribution of their information except through them. Their response time is very poor--many months, sometimes years, and they will only search for specific people, not generic searches. The value of easy public access to these types of records can be demonstrated by the results of Yad Vashem placing Pages of Testimony on the Internet. Within days, people were reporting finding information about the fate of family members and there were even instances of individuals being reunited with family because of the easy online access to the information contained in the Pages of Testimony. For more information about ITS read

To me, the most fascinating story in the summer issue of AVOTAYNU is one by Alexander Beider where he evaluates two books on Jewish surnames: one by Heinrich and Eva Guggenheimer and the other the recently published "A Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames" by Lars Menk. Beider provides a scholarly analysis of why he considers the Menk work a valuable contribution to German-Jewish history and the Guggenheimers book seriously wanting. More information about the Menk book can be found at

There are numerous other stories with topics such as Russian revision lists, on-demand printing, a template for evaluating evidence, using courthouse records, a standard for transliterating Yiddish and Hebrew into English, and building a family history website. There are five book reviews. The issue also contains Jewish genealogy news from all over the world through our "Contributing Editors" and "U.S. Update" sections.

You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

Avotaynu Shipping German Name-Change Gazetteer
The German name-change gazetteer, "Deutsch-fremdsprachiges Ortsnamenverzeichnis (German--Foreign-Language Gazetteer) is now in print. Technical problems at the printer delayed its publication. The books will be shipped in mid-September.

Avotaynu reprinted this gazetteer, which dates from 1932, in two volumes. It identifies all towns ceded by Germany and Austria-Hungary after World War I showing their previous German name and their current (1932) name. Towns are listed alphabetically within new country in two sequences: Old German name to new name, and new name to old German name. The names are for towns in the interwar countries of Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Also German names for selected towns are shown for Albania, Belgium-Holland, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey.

The books are sold only as a set. Ordering information can be found at Also located at the site is a sample page from the original book.

Jewish Genealogical Societies
With many small genealogical societies finding it difficult to exist because of the lack of persons willing to assume the responsibility of leadership, the Jewish Genealogical Society of St. Louis has found a simple solution: merge with a larger group. The JGS has disbanded and is now the Jewish Special Interest Group of the 2500-member St. Louis Genealogical Society. As their announcement noted, "there will be no need for a full board, no need for a treasury, no need for monthly meetings, and no need for separate publications." Plans are for the SIG to meet several times a year. Indexing projects begun by the JGS will continue.

As one society disbands, another is founded. There is a new society in California named the Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County. It is located in an area northwest of Los Angeles.

For those readers who are not members of Jewish genealogical societies, consider joining one. There are societies in 15 countries, five provinces of Canada and 25 states of the United States. A complete list can be found at If there is none in your area, consider forming one. The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, the umbrella group for all societies, can help you to do so. Contact them at Avotaynu assists new societies by providing from its mailing list the names of persons in the area of the proposed group.

The Jews of Nigeria
There is an Internet scam where the scammer pays for goods with what appears to be a valid credit card or bank draft which takes months to demonstrate is fraudulent. Meanwhile the goods are delivered. I received such an e-mail recently.

Hello, I am Mr. Dave Berry. I am a teacher in one of the good colleges here in Nigeria and the Planning Officer of the upcoming valedictory service. I viewed your website and saw some fantastic books which we will want to purchase for the presentation for the best students in our school for the upcoming valedictory service. But before we continue with the ordering, we will want to confirm if you will accept credit card or cashiers check as a means of payment. If so, kindly get back to us with your website to proceed with the ordering. I look forward to your reply soonest. Regards. Dave Berry (Planning Officer)

It is comforting to know there are Nigerians interested in "A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia."

A Little Bit of Internet Humor
It never ceases to amaze me that people will e-mail me asking for advice, and when I reply I get a message that the iniquirer has set up one of those spam blockers that replies "you are unknown to the recipient, please go through extra effort to get your mail through." Needless to say, I do not bother to going through the sometimes-time-consuming ritual of getting the e-mail to pass through.

The most humorous example was received last week from a woman who complained that she was not getting issues of "Nu? What's New?". She stated that if I told her the e-mail address this e-zine used, she would get her Internet Service Provider (ISP) to unblock the message. I dutifully replied to her and my e-mail bounced with a message that my e-mail address was unknown to the recipient.

Next Edition of Nu? What's New? Will Be September 18
Next week I will be attending the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies in Salt Lake City. The next edition of Nu? What's New? will be September 18.
Nu? What's New is published biweekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
Copyright 2005, Avotaynu, Inc. All rights reserved

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