>Further to the posting from John, this was in the news a few days ago
>Holocaust Survivor Learns Father's Fate 66 Years Later
>Wednesday, January 16, 2008
> * JERUSALEM In 1942, 8-year-old Moshe
> Bar-Yuda walked hand-in-hand with his father to
> a collection point in his hometown in Slovakia,
> and watched him being shipped off to a Nazi
> labor camp. The boy never saw him again, and
> for 66 years was left to wonder about his father's fate.
>Now, because of a newly opened Nazi archive, the mystery has been resolved.
>Bar-Yuda, now 74, was one of the first to obtain
>Nazi documents now available to the public after
>they were stashed away for more than 60 years in
>a secret German archive containing the largest
>registry of Holocaust victims ever. Up to now,
>only limited queries were answered.
>The archive proved that Bar-Yuda's father,
>Alfred Kastner, was killed in a Nazi gas chamber
>at the Majdanek death camp in Poland. Bar-Yuda
>said despite the tragic ending, he was grateful
>to finally have some closure and an exact date
>to recite Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.
>"I don't want to say I feel terrible, and I
>don't want to say the word 'happy,' but I feel
>like this open wound has finally been closed,"
>he said. "It closed very sadly but at least it closed."
>About 6 million Jews were killed by German Nazis
>and their collaborators in the Holocaust of World War II.
>In August, the International Tracing Service
>(ITS) of the International Committee of the Red
>Cross, which administers the archive, began
>transferring digital copies of its documents to
>the U.S. Holocaust Memorial museum in
>Washington, D.C. to Yad Vashem, Israel's
>Holocaust memorial, and to the Institute of
>National Remembrance in Warsaw, Poland.
>The vast archive of war records in the small
>German town of Bad Arolsen opened its doors to
>the public in November, giving historians and
>Holocaust survivors access to concentration camp
>records detailing Nazi horrors.
>The ITS has completed digitizing some 50 million
>index cards from shelves that would stretch 16
>miles (26 kilometers) long and fill a half-dozen
>buildings in Bad Arolsen. The remainder of the
>collection, relating to slave labor and
>displaced persons camps, will be transferred in
>installments between 2008 and 2010, the agency said.
>Yad Vashem said it would start accepting queries in February.
>Bar-Yuda already has his answer. After reading
>about the opening of the archive, he turned to
>an old friend who worked at Yad Vashem and had
>been to Bad Arolsen, to find out if she could
>uncover any information about his father. Two
>weeks ago, he was handed the document that recorded his father's execution.
>Alfred Kastner, number 2802, was executed in
>Majdanek on Sept. 7, 1942 less than six months
>after his son watched him taken away.
>Bar-Yuda, a retired journalist and envoy for the
>quasi-governmental Jewish Agency, was hidden
>during the war with his mother and two siblings and later escaped to Palestine.
>Other survivors said his father had perished,
>either in Majdanek or in the Auschwitz death
>camp. But there was nothing official and no
>records about him beyond the one that showed
>he was deported from Bratislava on March 27,
>1942 the Saturday before Passover, when his
>small son walked with him for the last time.
>"I've been trying to find out what happened to
>him. I didn't know anything," said Bar-Yuda, who
>recently wrote a book about his own Holocaust experience.
>Bar-Yuda said knowing how his father's life
>ended was a great comfort after years of devastating uncertainty.
>"The question marks are gone," he said. "Now I
>know how to deal better with the knowledge, and not with the confusion."
>Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev said the
>Holocaust museum was speedily integrating the
>new material into its database in the hopes of providing more answers.
>"This story illustrates how the millions of
>documents in Yad Vashem's archives, including
>the recently received documents from the ITS,
>allow us to be able to uncover the missing
>pieces of information, so that survivors and
>others will be able to finally complete the
>picture as to what happened to their loved ones during the Holocaust," he said.
>The Bad Arolsen documents transportation
>lists, Gestapo orders, camp registers, slave
>labor booklets, death books refer to about
>17.5 million people, Jews and non-Jews.
>Allied forces began collecting the documents
>even before the end of the war, and eventually
>entrusted them to the Red Cross. The archive has
>been governed since 1955 by a commission that
>ratified an accord in November that unsealed the archive.
>Yad Vashem expects the second batch of material
>from Bad Arolsen to arrive later this year and
>to have the full copy of all the ITS records by 2010.
>It recently uploaded a special online request
>form on its Web site, and encouraged survivors
>seeking material from the German registry to do so.
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