How do you trace Holocaust victims?

By Guest, 4 October 2017 - 9:27pm

Jewish genealogy expert Jeanette Rosenberg reveals the best resources for tracing ancestors affected by the Holocaust

Ruby Wax’s parents managed to flee Austria and escape the Holocaust – but other members of her family were not so fortunate

The roots of the Holocaust or ‘Shoah’, as it is also known, are long and deep.

Massacres and pogroms were familiar themes across the centuries but the Holocaust was an entirely different level of persecution. It was also different in the degree to which the perpetrators documented their own actions.

Consequently, this means a surprising amount of information about the victims and their lives survive both online and in the archives.

Learn about the most useful resources for tracing your Holocaust ancestors with this record roundup:

The National Archives

The 1939 Register, available at The National Archives in Kew, as well as online at Findmypast, is often the first official UK record of family members who arrived in the UK ahead of the outbreak of the Second World War.

Other records from this period include those held in the Home Office’s Aliens Department Internment Index and Exemption from Internment records. These have been digitised and are now also available via Findmypast

They run from 1939-1947 and detail mostly Germans, Austrians, Italians and their spouses who were interned on the Isle of Man or considered for internment during the Second World War.

World Jewish Relief

The World Jewish Relief (previously known as the Central British Fund) rescued 65,000 people from Europe during the 1930s and 1940s, including 10,000 through the Kindertransport.

Its archives, which contain records of 35,000 people, have now been digitised and you can apply to find any that relate to members of your family. The Who Do You Think You Are? episode featuring Jerry Springer showed him receiving records regarding his family from the World Jewish Relief’s archive.

Don’t forget to look in naturalisation records and also for possible name changes, if your family wanted to appear less foreign. You may find more information in The Gazette and at TNA.

The Wiener Library website offers plenty of advice about researching victims of Nazi persecution

The Wiener Library

The Wiener Library is the UK’s Holocaust Library. Visit its website to read more about its resources and to find out how to make an appointment to visit if you want to undertake on-site research.

The library also hosts the UK’s copy of the International Tracing Service (ITS) Digital Archive. Priority for ITS archival research assistance is given to Holocaust survivors and their immediate families who may wish to examine documents related to their own fate or to that of family members during the Second World War.

The digital copy is also available for consultation in the Reading Room for those interested in conducting historical research. Documents are provided to survivors and their families free of charge.

Beth Shalom

Visit Beth Shalom (the 'House of Peace') in Nottingham to find the National Holocaust Centre and Museum. You can also read and watch a number of survivor testimonies on its website.

Imperial War Museum

Visit the Imperial War Museum London to see the award-winning Holocaust exhibition. It traces the Nazi persecution and murder of Jewish people in Europe from 1933-1945.

You can view photographs, diaries, toys and films illustrating the lives of people who lived through the Holocaust. You can also hear powerful testimonies from survivors that bring a moving perspective to these objects and artefacts.

Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain

Finally, by joining the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain, which has recently moved to the Society of Genealogists’ building in Clerkenwell, London, you can receive mentoring and further advice with your research. Find out more here.

This is an extract from an article that appears in the October 2017 issue of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine


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