Footnote’s major Holocaust collection, free access

One of the darkest times in world history is seen in the release of an important new digital Holocaust collection.

In a timely move – as some in today’s world continue to loudly deny that this tragedy ever took place – Footnote.com, the National Archives and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum have today released these original records and images.

For the first time online, view one million Holocaust-related records, millions of names, 26,000 photos, some 600 interactive survivor and victim accounts, concentration camp records, maps, timelines and more. [Photo at left above: Dachau gates.]

Jews around the world have just recalled our ancestors’ names and shared family history at gatherings and in synagogues during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This collection – released at such an important time in the Jewish year – will help preserve and share the history of an event that has touched nearly every Jewish family in the world, regardless of origin.

Most importantly, Footnote is providing completely free access to this collection throughout October.

View the collection here via a special microsite. Be patient if pages seem to load slowly, which will likely be due to the heavy traffic this collection is expected to generate. Also note that some indexing is still coming in, but everything is expected to be linked by Thursday, October 1, according to Footnote.com.

Visitors will be able to create pages to highlight discoveries as they search for names and photos, add comments and stories, share insights. There is no charge to access and contribute to these personal pages.

This collection gives visitors a first-hand glimpse into the tragedy of the Holocaust, a “personal story not included in history text books,” according to Footnote.com CEO Russ Wilding. Additionally, these important records will become more widely accessible and help people now and in the future learn more about the Holocaust.

Here is a sample page of a Dachau concentration camp register (click to enlarge):

The collection includes:

– Concentration camp registers and documents from Dachau, Mauthausen, Auschwitz, and Flossenburg.

– The “Ardelia Hall Collection” of records relating to the Nazi looting of Jewish possessions, including looted art.Click here for more.

– Captured German records including deportation and death lists from concentration camps.

– Nuremberg War Crimes Trial proceedings

Footnote.com’s special Holocaust site offers:

– Stories of Holocaust victims and survivors.

– Place where visitors can create their own pages to memorialize their Holocaust ancestors.

– Pages on the concentration camps – includes descriptions, photos, maps, timelines and accounts from those who survived the camps.

– Descriptions and samples of the original records from the National Archives.

If you have not yet accessed Footnote.com – a subscription site – free access to this Holocaust Collection will enable readers to become personally familiar with its rich resources.

Poland: Zamosc synagogue renovation project

The town of Zamosc, near Lublin in southeastern Poland, is important for several reasons. One is its grand synagogue built four centuries ago, and the other is that the community’s archive indicates that the founders of the Jewish community were Sephardim, refugees of the Spanish Inquisition

According to Alexander Beider, in his Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland (Avotaynu):

In 1588, Polish Chancellor Jan Zamoyski established a special privilege allowing Sephardic Jews to live in his own newly founded private town of Zamosc. (Ashkenazic Jews from neighboring towns were not authorized to settle in Zamosc.) Many advantages were offered to those Sephardic Jews who decided to move there, which prompted a number of Sephardic families to migrate to the town. …[see more below]

In the Jerusalem Post, read about the 400-year-old synagogue that is undergoing a major restoration.

The restoration work was spearheaded by Monika Krawczyk of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, which is responsible for safeguarding Jewish cultural, historical and religious sites throughout the country.

Monika also spoke about the Foundation’s projects at the recent 29th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Philadelphia.

In the article by Michael Freund, more details are revealed.

In addition to a hall that will be used for prayer services, lectures and concerts, plans call for the structure to house a tourist information center as well as a museum that will celebrate the history of the area’s Jews.

The exhibits will utilize advanced multimedia technology, and will incorporate innovative programs such as a “virtual tour” of Jewish shtetls that dotted the region before the Holocaust.

The synagogue was built between 1610-1618, and was in continuous use until the 1939 German invasion of Poland. It was damaged and later served as a carpentry workshop.

Post-war Communist Poland made it a public library.

At the beginning of Word War II, nearly half the town was Jewish, some 12,000 people.

“We have a dream that the Zamosc synagogue will be used for the holy purposes of the Jewish people,” Krawczyk said, “but the reality is what it is. I hope that Jewish groups from all over the world who visit Poland will come to see it and use it, as it is specially designed to allow the main hall to be used to hold prayers for interested groups.”

Most of the funding is from the European Economic Area and Norway Grants, established by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to support social and economic projects throughout Europe, as well as from the World Monument Fund.

Read the complete article at the link above.

For more on the Zamosc section of Beider’s section on Sephardim in Eastern Europe (from “A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland”) click here:

Toward the end of the 16th century, they included families from the Ottoman Empire (for example, Moses, the brother of the above Abraham de Mosso Kohen, who moved from Lwow and became the first Jewish inhabitant of Zamosc [Shatzky 1957:85]) and Italy (for example, Abram Misrachi and Salomon Marcus from Venice [Balaban 1906:467]). During the first part of the 17th century, new settlers generally came from Italy and Holland, and the documents of that time cite the existence in Zamosc of families named de Campus/ Kampos, Castiell/Kastiel and Sacuto/Zakuto (Morgensztern 1961: 75,76). The records also show the arrival of Samson Manes, a Sephardic Jew from Braunschweig, Germany (Morgensztern 1962:9). After the chancellor’s death in 1605, the growth of the Sephardic community in Zamosc stopped, while during the 1620s some Ashkenazic families moved there. Without newcomers from Mediterranean countries, the little Sephardic group rapidly declined. Some of the Sephardic Jews left the area; others intermarried with Ashkenazic Jews (Morgensztern 1962:14). As a result, during the second half of the 17th century, Sephardic names do not appear in the historical documents of both Zamosc and Lwow. The census of 1664 showed only 23 Jews in Zamosc, most of whom were Ashkenazic (Morgensztern 1962:4).

For other towns and countries and their Sephardic families, read Beider’s entire section at the link above. Sephardic surnames in the article include:

HISPANUS, BEN MESHULAM, KALAHORA-KALAORA-CHOLCHORA-CALAHORRA, KOLHARI-KOLCHOR-KOLCHORY, WNOCHOWICZ/SZFARDI, VITALIS, MORPURGO, DELMEDIGO, ITALIUS, MONTALTO, LUSITANUS, FORTIS, COMENDE, MISERACHI-MISERACHY, DINIZ-DE NYES, MILLAN, ABENJACAR, CASTIEL, DIAS NUNES, DUBETENT, DE LIMA, PALLACHE, ABENSUR, MOSSO KOHEN, GAMBAI, SYDIS, PASSY, CZELEBI, SKAMPIS, MARCUS, DE CAMPUS-KAMPOS, CASTIELL-KASTIEL, SACUTO-ZAKUTO, MANES, CHARLAP, FRENK, PORTUGIES, PORTUGAL, SFARD, SZPANIERMAN, ABUHOW, ALBA, ALGAZY, AZYLUJ (AZULAY), BONDY, DYLION, KARO, ALFUS, DOMINGO, ELION, RYNALDO, ABRAVANEL-ABARBANEL.

If your family has a Sephardic oral tradition, a Sephardic surname, an Sephardic medical condition or other pointers, consider joining the IberianAshkena DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA.com.

China: The Confucius tree revealed

The Confucius family tree was revealed in the first complete edition (80 volumes with some 2 million names) since 70 years ago. The ceremony took place in the great temple in Confucius’ home town of Qufu. His name is Kong Fuzi in Mandarin.

The Telegraph UK carried the story here.

“After more than 70 years our family is united again, and we have gathered to witness this historical moment which is not only a commemoration of our ancestors but a continuation of our nation’s history,” said 83-year-old Kong Deyong.

During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) the family’s history was interrupted and the Red Guards destroyed family artifacts and persecuted his descendants.In the 1990s, however, the ruling Communist Party again turned to traditional Confucian ideas and emphasising the need for social harmony and respect for authority.

A recent book on Confucius’ sayings sold 10 million copies and a £10 million film on his life began production this year. The ceremony was attended by leading Communist Party officials who praised the 10-year project as a national achievement.

In a nod to modern times, the register will contain the names of women for the first time and will be available on a computer database. A copy will be deposited at China’s National Library in Beijing.

“The completion of this genealogy is a symbol that China is trying once again to revive its traditional culture,” Kong Lingshao, deputy chief of the Propaganda Department in Qufu told The Daily Telegraph.

The Kong Clan Register, which goes back more than 1,000 years, had not been updated since 1937. The custom is that it should have been revised every 30-years, but the Cultural Revolution precluded it.

With family records scattered or destroyed, the restoration of the complete genealogy has taken more than a decade of international research, conducted by individual Kong clans in China, but also in Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.

Shanghai resident Kong Ming, began researching his branch from Hangzhou in 1998, after his elderly grandfather dug up the coffin in which he had hidden family records to escape persecution.

The young businessman spent more than £40,000 reconstructing the 800-year-old family history. He sent out 100,000 advertisement and posted flyers all over the city to recover lost links.

The Telegraph UK story included the story of a British teen, the 79th generation descendant of Confucius, who attended the ceremony. He is the half-Chinese grandson of the clan’s leader, Kong Deyong. It appears from the story that his relatives believe he will be given greater family responsibilities in the future. Says the young man:

“It is stressful. I think about those responsibilities every day, I really do,” he says, in between telling a story about how Confucian ideas win him respect on the football pitch, “I know I have to learn Chinese, but it’s got to be a hobby rather than a job. It’s very stressful to think about it.”

Some say that in 30 or 60 years, the young man may follow his grandfather and lead the next revision of the Clan Register.

Read the complete story at the link above.

Florida: Modern researchers’ resources, Oct. 14

A professional genealogist who has traced her family back to 1760 and documented more than 6,000 family members will speak on “Genealogy – Then and Now: Resources For the Modern Researcher,” at the Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County, Florida on Thursday, October 14.

Monica Freedman Morris, who began her own research in 1976, will discuss the development of Jewish genealogical research and resource tools available today.

Morris is co-founder and president emerita of the JGSBPCI, and author of “Scattered Seeds: A Guide to Jewish Genealogy.” She has presented many genealogy workshops, been a Palm Beach Community College adjunct professor, keynote speaker at the Professional Librarians Association and presented at the Distinguished Lecturer Series.

The day begins at 12:30pm with a brick wall session, followed at 1pm by a brief business meeting and the main presentation. Poland and Romania special interest groups will also meet at 11.30am.

Meetings are held at the South County Civic Center in Delray Beach, Florida. Fee: JGSPBCI members, free; others, $5.

For more information about the brick wall program or to submit advance questions, email program chair Helene Seaman. For special interest groups, email Marvin Lopatin. For other inquiries and program details, contact Tracing the Tribe’s good friend Sylvia Nusinov.