Global Shoah project giving families closure

By Nathalie Rothschild, November 10, 2011
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The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has joined forces with genealogy website Ancestry.com to launch the World Memory Project.

A searchable database with records of over 30,000 victims of Nazi persecution is now available online, and the public has been invited to help expand the vast collection of information.

"We're in a race against time," said project manager Lisa Yavnai. "We want to provide this information for survivors and their family members."

The Holocaust Memorial Museum holds archives containing more than 170 million documents and receives thousands of requests a year for information about victims. "Finding details about a specific individual is often like looking for a needle in haystack," said Ms Yavnai, "but the new database makes our documents searchable by name."

Over the past six months, over 2,000 people from around the world have transcribed and indexed 700,000-plus records.

Ms Yavnai spoke of one survivor who requested information about his father:

"We were able to tell him that his father was liberated in Mauthausen, that he lived for four days in a US hospital and was buried in a marked grave.

"We could give the survivor his father's cause and date of death. The whole family was then able to travel to Austria and put a headstone on the grave… The survivor hadn't seen any images of his family in 65 years but we were able to locate a photo of his father."

    Last updated: 12:12pm, November 10 2011