Arolsen: USHMM statement on archive opening

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, released a statement today on the opening of the International Tracing Service archives at Bad Arolsen, Germany.

Two major points: Beginning Monday, December 3, survivors may begin to submit requests for information here, and the collection will become accessible in January 2008. For updates concerning the collection and its availability, click here.

The complete statement:

Museum Aims to Make Massive Collection Accessible in January 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. – All 11 countries overseeing the International Tracing Service (ITS) archive located in Bad Arolsen, Germany, have ratified the agreement that officially opens the massive Holocaust archive. This marks the conclusion of a long diplomatic process led by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to open this archive to help survivors and their families obtain information about their loved ones.

The Museum, the American repository for the archive, is in the process of receiving a complete digital copy of the archive and is working to make the documentation accessible in January 2008, so that it can begin responding to survivor requests for information. The archive is being transferred in installments, and the Museum expects to have a complete copy of the material by 2010.

“This is a significant milestone in the long process of helping Holocaust survivors finally learn the fates of their loved ones,” says Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. “The Museum undertook this enormous task on behalf of survivors and their families, and we are committed to quickly getting them this long overdue information.”

The ITS archive contains more than 100 million images of material relating to the fates of approximately 17.5 million people – both Jews and non-Jews – who perished in the Holocaust or who otherwise fell victim to the Nazi regime. In August 2007, the Museum received the first installment of material, containing 18 million images of arrest, camp, prison, ghetto and transport records, and the Central Name Index (the primary finding aid for the collection) arrived in November. The remainder of the collection, relating to slave labor and displaced persons camps, will be transferred in installments between 2008 and 2010.

The Museum is investing in the hardware, software and personnel to make this mass of electronic documentation – in more than 25 languages, much of it hand-written—accessible. In addition to building new systems to access the collection, Museum staff members have received weeks of intensive training at the ITS facility in Germany to familiarize themselves with the collection.

The Museum will announce through its Web site and the media when it can begin responding to survivor requests for information. Beginning Monday, December 3, survivors can submit requests to the Museum via the Museum’s Web site, or by calling the Benjamin and Vladka Meed Registry of Holocaust Survivors toll-free at 866-912-4385 .

Together with ITS, the Museum has created an inventory of the more than 21,000 separate collections of material that are contained in the ITS archive. The inventory provides brief descriptions of the collections at ITS that will help users understand the kinds of records that are—and are not—contained in the archive. It does not list the names of individuals found in the archive, nor can it access individual documents in the collection.

For more information, click here.

Arolsen: Yad Vashem statement, updates

Yad Vashem’s chairman Avner Shalev just issued the following statement on the opening of the International Tracing Service archives in Bad Arolsen:

The opening of the ITS archive is a significant step forward. This represents a breakthrough to bring information and documents to survivors and others. Our understanding and knowledge of the personal story of the Holocaust will be deepened. All the resources and expertise of Yad Vashem will be dedicated to ensuring that survivors, their families, scholars and students, receive the information in the most comprehensive manner. Our staff is already providing copies of original documents from the ITS to survivors and their families.

A special team at Yad Vashem has begun working with the ITS material, based on 50 years of experience working with ITS documents, some of which have been located at Yad Vashem since the 1950s. In addition, new personnel will soon be added to assist with public and survivor inquiries – some 25,000 of which are handled annually -drawing upon the new ITS material, the ITS documents that have been at Yad Vashem, and the other material among the 75 million pages of documentation housed in the Yad Vashem Archives.

Yad Vashem has a team that is combing through the ITS material that we receive, to recover more names and enrich Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names, which currently contains over 3.3 million names of Jews murdered in the Shoah.”

Yad Vashem updates will be found here.

The Associated Press updated its earlier story. Some additions:

– The archive plans a summer 2008 scholar’s conference to map unexplored contents.

– New staff will be hired by the Tracing Service, the Washington museum and Yad Vashem to help.

– Bad Arolsen opened a computer-equipped visitors room to enable searches of scanned files.

– The archive has never been organized by a historian or a professionally trained archivist, while the main database has 50 million name entries which are often duplicated in variant spellings.

– The Associated Press, during several visits, saw the Netherlands deportee list to Auschwitz (including Anne Frank), the list of Oskar Schindler’s employees, medical records counting the number of lice on prisoners’ heads, and the list of Neuengamme labor camp inmates – evacuated by the Nazis – who died on prisoner boats bombed mistakenly by the British Air Force.

Arolsen: USHMM statement on archive opening

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, released a statement today on the opening of the International Tracing Service archives at Bad Arolsen, Germany.

Two major points: Beginning Monday, December 3, survivors may begin to submit requests for information here, and the collection will become accessible in January 2008. For updates concerning the collection and its availability, click here.

The complete statement:

Museum Aims to Make Massive Collection Accessible in January 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. – All 11 countries overseeing the International Tracing Service (ITS) archive located in Bad Arolsen, Germany, have ratified the agreement that officially opens the massive Holocaust archive. This marks the conclusion of a long diplomatic process led by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to open this archive to help survivors and their families obtain information about their loved ones.

The Museum, the American repository for the archive, is in the process of receiving a complete digital copy of the archive and is working to make the documentation accessible in January 2008, so that it can begin responding to survivor requests for information. The archive is being transferred in installments, and the Museum expects to have a complete copy of the material by 2010.

“This is a significant milestone in the long process of helping Holocaust survivors finally learn the fates of their loved ones,” says Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. “The Museum undertook this enormous task on behalf of survivors and their families, and we are committed to quickly getting them this long overdue information.”

The ITS archive contains more than 100 million images of material relating to the fates of approximately 17.5 million people – both Jews and non-Jews – who perished in the Holocaust or who otherwise fell victim to the Nazi regime. In August 2007, the Museum received the first installment of material, containing 18 million images of arrest, camp, prison, ghetto and transport records, and the Central Name Index (the primary finding aid for the collection) arrived in November. The remainder of the collection, relating to slave labor and displaced persons camps, will be transferred in installments between 2008 and 2010.

The Museum is investing in the hardware, software and personnel to make this mass of electronic documentation – in more than 25 languages, much of it hand-written—accessible. In addition to building new systems to access the collection, Museum staff members have received weeks of intensive training at the ITS facility in Germany to familiarize themselves with the collection.

The Museum will announce through its Web site and the media when it can begin responding to survivor requests for information. Beginning Monday, December 3, survivors can submit requests to the Museum via the Museum’s Web site, or by calling the Benjamin and Vladka Meed Registry of Holocaust Survivors toll-free at 866-912-4385 .

Together with ITS, the Museum has created an inventory of the more than 21,000 separate collections of material that are contained in the ITS archive. The inventory provides brief descriptions of the collections at ITS that will help users understand the kinds of records that are—and are not—contained in the archive. It does not list the names of individuals found in the archive, nor can it access individual documents in the collection.

For more information, click here.

Nazi archive opens today, ends secrecy

The Arolsen archives opened today (Wednesday, November 28) after 60 years of secrecy, according to AP, which will be updating the story throughout the day.

The last of 11 countries involved in the 2006 agreement, Greece filed papers with the German Foreign Ministry to permit the unsealing.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ A vast archive of German war records opened to the public Wednesday, giving historians and Holocaust survivors who have waited more than 60 years access to concentration camp papers detailing Nazi horrors.

The 11 countries that oversee the archive of the International Tracing Service have finished ratifying an accord unsealing some 50 million pages kept in the German town of Bad Arolsen, ITS director Reto Meister said Wednesday.

“The ratification process is complete,” said Meister, whose organization is part of the International Committee of the Red Cross. “We are there. The doors are open.”

Until now, the archive had been used exclusively to trace missing persons, reunite families and provide documentation to victims of Nazi persecution to support compensation claims.

The U.S. government also has referred to the ITS for background checks on immigrants it suspected of lying about their past.

Meister said the ITS received 50 applications this month alone from academics and research organizations seeking to begin examining the archive _ including untapped documents of communications among Nazi officials, camp registrations, transportation lists, slave labor files, death lists and postwar displaced persons files.

“It’s a relief. It took a long time – far too long,” said Paul Shapiro of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which has lobbied since 2001 to pry open the archive. “I am pleased that the archive of the International Tracing Service can now be opened for research,” said Guenter Gloser, a German deputy foreign minister responsible for Europe. “I would like to invite all researchers to make use of this, and work through this dark chapter of German history.”

To read more, click here.

Access to the data is expected to revive academic interest in the Holocaust.

Most importantly, it will help Holocaust survivors and families of victims learn more about their own lives and that of relatives. Some 17.5 million people are mentioned in the index; the files cover 16 miles (25 kilometers) of shelving.

Now, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem must organize the material they’ve been receiving so that the public can access it.

More information:

International Tracing Service
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
ITS inventory
Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial

UK phonebooks 1880-1984 now online

Ancestry.UK has spent three years transferring 1,780 phone books to the Internet. The updated collection went online this morning, covering 1880-1984.

An extra benefit in addition to the alphabetical listings, are the advertisements on the pages, adding information on the lives of our ancestors.

The collection now includes some 280 million historic names, addresses and numbers from across Britain, and was done in association with BT. Ancestry.uk says there is nearly full coverage for England as well as substantial records for Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

Why are phone books so useful for family history research? While a census was made only once a decade, the phone books were updated every one or two years, providing a record of a family’s movements between the official census records. While the most recent UK census accessible today is 1901 (1911 won’t be released until 2012), the books go through 1984.

From these listings, researchers can understand their ancestors’s lives a bit better. Telephones were initially only available to commercial enterprises or to those who could afford the new-fangled invention. As costs came down and a wider segment of society had them installed, researchers can now track more contemporary family movements.

This is another great resource for researchers. My search turned up historic information on my Talalay cousins who moved from Mogilev, Belarus to Moscow to Berlin to the UK, and then to the US and Canada.

There, in the November 1939 book, was J (Joseph) A (Anselm) Talalay, at 28 Eton Place, Haverstock Hill, NW 3, phone number PRImrose 5353. In this case, while not critical information, the entry does provide data that I wouldn’t have been able to easily access. There were 12 listings, 1938-1983, for three family members.

These numbers will also become useful when time machines become another tool in the genealogical arsenal. Researchers will be able to go back in time and phone their ancestors to meet them at the machine!

From Reuters, here’s a peek at “Yellowing pages offer a glimpse of phone history.”

LONDON (Reuters) – The old home phone numbers of former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, composer Edward Elgar and poet John Betjeman are among millions being made available online for the first time on Wednesday.

Genealogy Web site Ancestry.co.uk has spent three years transferring nearly 2,000 old phone books to the Internet to help people research their family tree.

From the first slimline directory of 1880 that contained just 248 names to the heavyweight volumes of the 1980s, the collection traces the inexorable spread of the phone network.

While callers today would struggle to find Tony Blair’s private number, anyone who owned a copy of a 1930s directory could reach former prime minister Ramsay MacDonald in Scotland.

His home address is listed with the old-style word and number combination, “Lossiemouth 3089”.

In the 1941 directory for Tunbridge Wells, next to the listing for the Mac chain of fishmongers, there is an entry for “Macmillan, Harold; Pooks Cottage, Birch Grove. Chelwood Gate 81”. He went on to serve as prime minister from 1957 to 1963.

Famous figures from the arts were also listed.

Read more here.

Israel: Horowitz family conference, Dec. 5

Is your name Horowitz, Ish Horowitz, Horwitz, Hurowitz, Hurwitz, Gorovets, Gorvich, Gurevich, Gurovich, Gurvich, Gurvits, Gurvitz, Gerwitz, Urevich or Herwitz? Did any of your ancestors bear one of these name?

Did you know that there is a Horowitz Families Association?

The group will hold its 23rd annual conference on the first day of Chanukah, at 4.30pm Wednesday, December 5, in Tel Aviv’s Beit HaTanach, 16 Rothschild Blvd.

According to association board member Shlomo Gurevich, the meeting will focus on the contribution of family members to the creation of the state of Israel, on the 60th anniversary of the UN decision, as well as connections with the Czech Republic.

The event will feature remarks by association chair Yitzhak Ish-Horowitz on the family roots in Bohemia, by the Czech Ambassador in Israel, and the Israeli-Czech Friendship Society president.

During the conference, books on the family history will be presented as well as the annual association yearbook. Admission is NIS 25; members, NIS 20.

The website publishes information – in Hebrew, English, Russian and Spanish – about the family history, events and members, according to one of the site’s webmasters, Daniel Horowitz. Horowitz family members and descendants from around the world can register for free, facilitating contact with other branches and the exchange of information. A mailing list keeps everyone up to date.

Visitors can also read and download past editions of the annual association newsletter, Yedion.

Monthly updates include biographies of notable Horowitz family members and a project titled “The All Horowitz Family Tree” is underway in an attempt to gather as many of the families’ branch trees as possible.

The Horowitz Family Tree page is located at MyHeritage.com. The site offers excellent tools for genealogists, such as family websites with smart matching technology, photograph handling capabilities, a search engine which accesses 1,200-plus genealogical websites at one click and much more, including easy-to-use online family tree building tools.

Those members living in or visiting Israel can review the association’s library holdings online and make appointments to visit the association library and consult its resources.

While the family’s rabbinical roots are in medieval Barcelona, they migrated to the town of Horovice (today’s Czech Republic) and adopted the town name for the family.

For more information, click here.

Arolsen: Yad Vashem statement, updates

Yad Vashem’s chairman Avner Shalev just issued the following statement on the opening of the International Tracing Service archives in Bad Arolsen:

The opening of the ITS archive is a significant step forward. This represents a breakthrough to bring information and documents to survivors and others. Our understanding and knowledge of the personal story of the Holocaust will be deepened. All the resources and expertise of Yad Vashem will be dedicated to ensuring that survivors, their families, scholars and students, receive the information in the most comprehensive manner. Our staff is already providing copies of original documents from the ITS to survivors and their families.

A special team at Yad Vashem has begun working with the ITS material, based on 50 years of experience working with ITS documents, some of which have been located at Yad Vashem since the 1950s. In addition, new personnel will soon be added to assist with public and survivor inquiries – some 25,000 of which are handled annually -drawing upon the new ITS material, the ITS documents that have been at Yad Vashem, and the other material among the 75 million pages of documentation housed in the Yad Vashem Archives.

Yad Vashem has a team that is combing through the ITS material that we receive, to recover more names and enrich Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names, which currently contains over 3.3 million names of Jews murdered in the Shoah.”

Yad Vashem updates will be found here.

The Associated Press updated its earlier story. Some additions:

– The archive plans a summer 2008 scholar’s conference to map unexplored contents.

– New staff will be hired by the Tracing Service, the Washington museum and Yad Vashem to help.

– Bad Arolsen opened a computer-equipped visitors room to enable searches of scanned files.

– The archive has never been organized by a historian or a professionally trained archivist, while the main database has 50 million name entries which are often duplicated in variant spellings.

– The Associated Press, during several visits, saw the Netherlands deportee list to Auschwitz (including Anne Frank), the list of Oskar Schindler’s employees, medical records counting the number of lice on prisoners’ heads, and the list of Neuengamme labor camp inmates – evacuated by the Nazis – who died on prisoner boats bombed mistakenly by the British Air Force.