Tracing Our Family

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Tracing Family Members Lost in the Holocaust

Search and Unite

If you’re looking to unite with family members lost in the Holocaust that may still be alive today, you’ll be interested in visiting David Lewin’s Search and Unite Web pages, here in the Cybrary.


To Search Online


There is a Jewish Genealogy Web site available called JEWISHGEN at, and also a Jewish Genealogy Newsgroup/ Discussion Group. Visit them both. They even offer a Holocaust Registry with a search feature on their Web site with which you can search your family name and any town you think they may have lived in. You will also get contact information on the researchers that have found and registered the information you recovered.

2. Search our site, Nizkor’s and the Internet at:

3. Go to our Links page:

For an excellent example of what can be done in the area of tracing a family tree and researching family history, even for descendants of Holocaust survivors, visit the Knecht Family History Page, set up by Morton and Alan Knecht.

4. Search the U.S. Holocaust Museum at:

The U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum also maintains a registry and lots of other valuable information on tracing family lost in the Holocaust, but you have to go there to use it. You can even use their computer while you visit the Museum to find people who have registered with them. For more information, contact:

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW
Washington, DC 20024-2150
(202) 479-9712

5. Yad Vashem keeps a central registry of Holocaust victims in Jerusalem. The Pages of Testimony at the Hall of Names documents more than 3,000,000 Holocaust victims and is a good resource.
You can contact them at their site:

Or send a letter with request for research to:

Yad Vashem
P.O.Box 3477
Jerusalem 91034,

They will need the family name, place and, if possible, date of birth and any other pertinent information you may have. If you know of victims of the Holocaust that are not registered, you can register them.

6. You can also search The Brest Ghetto Passport Archive, A Searchable Database:


As to groups to communicate with, check out our Children of Survivors’ Groups section.


From Diana Wichtel:

My father, Ben Herz Wichtel, was born in Cracow, Poland, in 1909, and lived most of his pre-war life in Warsaw. He escaped from a train on the way to Auschwitz. His first wife and all the rest of his family in Poland died in the camps. My father died in Montreal in 1970. We know very little about his story.

I’m new to the Internet and am interested in its potential to perhaps trace family we don’t know about. I’m attending a children of survivors group here in Auckland, New Zealand, and am interested in other such people/groups. Any help gratefully received.

Dear Diana,

I am so thankful that my father wrote his memoirs before he died in 1972, making the book, Abe’s Story: A Holocaust Memoir possible. Otherwise we also would know very little about his story. I feel blessed, and I encourage others to document their family heritage for themselves, their children, and their children’s children…learn the stories before it’s too late. This goes for everyone, but is especially important for descendants of Holocaust survivors. See Our Parents for more on this issue. You can also post your own father’s photo and his story in the Cybrary if you wish.

Where To Look Off-Line

Below are the best sources I know of to help you trace family records of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. I found much of the information below in the soc.culture.jewish.holocuast newsgroup/discussion group, some of which was recently posted by Erwin Denzler and Dan Orzech. Thanks Erwin and Dan.

Joey Korn

How to Document Victims and Locate Survivors of the Holocaust by Gary Mokotoff :

Order Online: How to Document Victims and Locate Survivors of the Holocaust : Documenting Victims, Locating Survivors (Avotaynu Monograph);

Gary Mokotoff; Paperback; $25.95, You can order a copy it by calling Avotaynu at 1-800-AVOTAYNU.

Gary recently contacted me and suggested I make some corrections to the following information on the Red Cross International Tracing Service, Yad Vashem, and the DEATH BOOKS FROM AUSCHWITZ. Thanks for your help, Gary. It’s people like you that help the Cybrary evolve.


The Red Cross has set up the International Tracing Service (ITS) that maintains a valuable database to help trace victims of the Holocaust. According to Gary, rather than contacting the ITS directly, you should contact your local Red Cross office, in any country, to get information from this service. This is especially true in the US, where the American Red Cross is doing a fine job of expediting requests to the ITS. If any American has a problem, dealing with their local Red Cross office where they refuse to honor a request for a search of the ITS records, please email Gary at He has heard of problems in the past and had a long conversation with the director of the program who claims that this should not occur. He will forward your complaint to her.
Thanks again Gary.

If your relatives were deported to Auschwitz, there’s a chance they are listed in the Death Books from Auschwitz, published by K.G. Saur in Munich.

In summer 1995, the Polish State Museum at Oswiecim/Auschwitz edited in three volumes the DEATH BOOKS. They include, besides reports and photos, the register of about 80,000 people who died in Auschwitz. The basic source for them are death certificates which were kept in Russian archives, without public access until some years ago . The printed registers give the full name, date and place of birth, and date of death for each person.

According to Gary Mokotoff, only about 80,000 people out of an estimated 1.5 million Jews are listed. More importantly, a person had to survive selection upon arrival at Auschwitz to have a chance to be listed. Only people who died at Auschwitz as a prisoner would be in the list.

The DEATH BOOKS were published at the same time in German, English, and Polish. Here is the bibliographical information of the English edition:
Title: Death Books from Auschwitz, vol 1 – 3
Editor: State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau
Published by: K. G. Saur Verlag Munich, 1995
ISBN: 3-598-11264-5

All 3 volumes together are on sale for $ 365 in the USA by

Congressional Information Services Inc.
4520 East-West Highway
Suite 800, Bethesda
Maryland 2081-3389


For personal use, the DEATH BOOKS OF AUSCHWITZ are available in specialized libraries in the USA, such as the US Holocaust Memorial Museum Library. Ask your local librarian how to get them.

Thanks to Erwin Denzler for this information.


Many Holocaust survivors published books that memorialize Jewish communities of Europe that were destroyed in the Holocaust. These books are called Yizkor Books because “yizkor” in Hebrew means “remembrance” or “memorial” in English. They not only commemorate the Jewish communities, but the individual victims as well. They are almost all written in Hebrew and Yiddish, so you would need the help of someone well versed in these languages if you do not understand them yourself.

Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York, the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the Jewish Public Library in Montreal, and the UCLA Library in Los Angeles have the largest collections of Yizkor books, though you can find them in Holocaust research centers around the world. The JEWISHGEN Web site and the book published by Avotaynu, both mentioned above, have much more information about Yizkor Books.

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