(GerSIG)

  

Major Sources of Information on
German/Austrian Holocaust Survivors and Victims
by Peter Lande

While probably the overwhelming majority of German/Austrian Jewish Holocaust victims were deported directly from these countries, many had fled to neighboring countries in the vain hope that these would prove to be safe havens. Relatively few perished in their country of origin. Researchers should, therefore, examine non-German/Austrian sources of information. The following is an attempt to pull together the major sources of such information, as well as information on concentration camps, and, finally, survivors.

In recent years the number of names of Holocaust victims and survivors, Jewish and non-Jewish, available in electronic form has virtually exploded and exceeds 6 million (there are many duplicates). This tremendous progress obscures the fact that a far greater number of names has not been made available and that each of the major databases poses significant problems for the researcher.

The largest and most inaccessible collection of information remains the Swiss Red Cross' International Tracing Service (ITS) located in Arolsen, Germany. ITS continues to ignore its legal obligations and international pressure to open its collection. More recently all but Germany of the countries represented on the ITS board have joined in calling for full access and there is hope that this will have results.

Yad Vashem has placed its three million name database, (www.yadvashem.org), on the web. It is technically excellent, and can be searched in a number of different ways. However, most of this database consists of testimonial information, submitted decades after the fact, which, while useful, should be used with care. It is hoped that Yad Vashem will release its digitized version of ITS name lists through 1955, and its "list of lists", i.e. an inventory of material in its collection.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) has extensive holdings of computerized name lists, roughly 3 million victims and survivors almost all of which comes from documentary, i.e non-testimonial, sources. Unfortunately, due to donor restrictions, less than half of these names are available on-line and this may only be searched by family and/or town name (http://resources.ushmm.org/Holocaust-Names/List-Catalog/search/), without any form of soundex. The total database, as well as non-computerized information, are used to reply to inquiries, which may be submitted at registry@ushmm.org. Equally important, the USHMM has made available on its website, in the Survivors Registry area , under Research Services, a Holocaust Name Lists Catalog, a "list of lists", 8,000 name lists from archives and books located around the world, many of which have not been computerized, but which can be accessed by the energetic researcher.

Jewishgen's Holocaust database (http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Holocaust), has reached one million names, none of them testimonial. It is technically not as good as Yad Vashem, but still better than the USHMM in that it includes a soundex option. Contributors may employ a sophisticated search engine while others may need to utilize as many as thirty searches for a single family name. Jewishgen provides a guide to items particularly related to Germany at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Germany.

The following is an attempt to summarize sources of information for the major countries to which Jews fled or deported. It is followed by a list of concentration camps where name lists are available as well as some sources for information on survivors. All sources should be used with care. A memorial book may list a person as having been deported to a particular camp, sometimes even with a date of death. However, tens of thousands of Jews were transported between camps and ghettoes and the initial place of deportation may not be the place of death. Even a date of death may be incorrect since some reference books simply list the date of arrival at a camp or the end of the war as dates of death. The researcher should also be aware that the spelling of names in Holocaust documents is extremely variable. Names were often entered phonetically by persons totally unfamiliar with the language of the persons they were listing. Even dates of birth and ages vary, since prisoners often made themselves younger or older in the hope of avoiding execution as too old or too young.

Austria. Recht als Unrecht lists Austrian Jews who had to submit property declarations in 1938. Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes lists 61,000 Austrian Jewish victims, available at http://www.doew.at. An immense collection of Austrian Jewish community records is currently being processed by the Austrian Jewish community and USHMM.

Belgium. Memorial de la Deportation des Juifs de Belgique lists 25,000 Jews deported from Belgium, many of them non-Belgian, and identifies those who survived. A major newly acquired Belgian film collection, CEGES, available at USHMM RG 65.001-004M supplements this and gives additional information on camps.

Czechoslovakia. Terezinska Pametni Kniha: Zivdoske Obeti Nacistickych Deportaci Z Cech A Moravy 1941-1945 lists 15,000 Czech Jews (some of whom formerly resided in Austria or Germany) deported from Bohemia and Moravia to Theresienstadt.

France. A new website, www.memorialdelashoah.org, is the place to start and largely replaces . Klarsfeld's Deportations from France. Most Jews deported from France were not born there and they included thousands of Germans and Austrians.

Germany. The Gedenkbuch contains the names of about 125,000 West German and West Berlin Jews who perished. There have been repeated promises that a new edition including all of Germany in its 1937 borders (estimated at 200,000 names) will be published in 2006. Recently the German Government announced that it planned to develop a database of all Jews resident in Germany in 1933 (over 500,000) but access to this information will be subject to Datenschutz restrictions. Most large German cities and many smaller towns have published their own memorial books, often containing much more information than the Gedenkbuch. In addition, Theresienstadt Gedenkbuch lists German Jews sent to that camp, while Buch der Erinnerung lists German, Austrian and Czech Jews deported to the Baltics. Die Ausbuergerung deutsche Staatsangehoeriger 1933-1945 lists those German Jews where their citizenship was stripped -mostly emigrants. Finally, the 1939 census of Jews, prior to significant deportations is available through LDS Family History Centers.


Hungary. Some Jews formerly resident in Germany and Austria fled to Hungary. Yad Vashem has published a series of books including Names of Hungarian Jewish Women in the Stutthof Concentration Camp, Names of Jewish Victims of Hungarian Labor Battalions and books listing Jews subject to deportation in Hajdu, Békés and Zala counties.  Counted Remnants lists 65,000 survivors in Budapest and "Hisek az Elhurcoltakrol" lists survivors in postwar camps. Beke Poraikia provides a different list of Jewish labor battalions. There are also separate lists of residents/victims in various Hungarian towns.

Italy. Il Libro dalli' Italia della Memorial Gli Ebrei deportati lists Jews deported from Italy, including a number of German and Austrian Jews. Ferramonti un Lager di Mussolini lists Jews held at Italy's largest concentration camp.

Poland. There is no overall list of victims but see the Yad Vashem website for Lodz (thousands of German and Austrian Jews). For other cities, such as Cracow, consult USHMM.

Concentration camps. Extensive records exist for Dachau (available on Jewishgen), Bergen Belsen, Buchenwald, Flossenburg, Natzweiler, Theresienstadt, Mauthausen and Stutthof (German prisoners listed on Jewishgen). Partial records exist for Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, Gurs, Sachsenhausen, Neuengamme, Majdanek, and Gross Rosen. Since these records are kept separately, camp by camp, it is necessary to search all of them unless one knows where a prisoner was sent. Gedenkstaetten for these camps are generally willing to respond to requests for information on individuals.

An attempt is being made to develop a list of all transport records as a prelude to computerizing the names on these lists, and the first project involves transports from Auschwitz. Several camp memorial sites are planning to issue memorial books this year (60 years after the end of World War II) and these should be useful. There are no prisoner lists for death camps such as Sobibor, Belzec and Treblinka, other than limited records of transports to these places.

Survivors. There is no single list of survivors but the Survivors Registry at the USHMM (available in a five year old book) and Sharit Platah (on the web) are useful beginning places. The Register of Jewish Survivors, issued by the Jewish Agency for Palestine includes 120,000 names, mostly Poles, while World Jewish Congress records and "Lakarov V'larahok" contain many lists. A Swiss list of 22,000 Jews admitted to Switzerland between 1933 and 1945, available at USHMM, contains the names of many German Jews. Unfortunately, the Swiss Government does not permit this list to be made available on the web. From 1944 to 1947 Aufbau published numerous name lists of survivors and persons looking for family members. These names appear on Jewishgen at http//www.jewishgen.org/databases/Holocaust/aufbau.htm.

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