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Fwd: family history

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  • Nick Holcz
    ... regards Nick ... [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 22 12:26 AM
      >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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