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Sunday, July 27, 2003

Yad Vashem Unveils Pages of Testimony

from "Nu? What's New," a publication of AVOTAYNU, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy
Yad Vashem unveiled at the recently concluded 23rd International Conference on Jewish Genealogy a very preliminary version of an online "Names Memorial Database" that includes more than 10 sources of information about the fate of persons caught up in the Holocaust--some four million digitized records.

It includes all Pages of Testimony (PoT) plus name lists from France (Klarsfeld deportation lists), Germany (Gedenkbuch), Greece, Hungary (Nevek project), Luxembourg, Netherlands, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, and Mauthausen and Theresienstadt concentration camps. Alexander Avraham, director of the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, which houses the Pages of Testimony, indicated that their goal is to have the system available to the public by summer 2004.

Pages of Testimony are one of the most important collections for Holocaust genealogical research. (For those not familiar with Pages of Testimony, a description can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/holocaust/pages.htm). I had the opportunity to use the preliminary version a week before the conference and it has already been of value in my personal research. Amazingly, I was able to determine that a first cousin of my father survived the Holocaust, a fact previously unknown to the family. I am in the process of trying to locate the person or her descendants.

Just the day before publishing this edition of "Nu? What's New?", I received an inquiry from a man of German-Jewish ancestry who stated he was trying to find information about his father's sister and brother. He stated "Both disappeared in the Holocaust and it is unknown what happened to them and their families." In less than 15 minutes, sitting at my home computer, I was able to determine that the aunt was "deported to the East (Riga)" on December 14, 1942, and his uncle was deported to Prague.

It's a huge mitzvah. Kol hakavod to Yad Vashem and Avotaynu.