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First group of Israeli genealogists did research at the archive

Nine genealogists from Israel, among them a Holocaust survivor, have spent the week doing research in the International Tracing Service´s (ITS) archives. It was the first larger group from the Jewish nation since the archive opened a year ago. “The ITS is a springboard for researchers which provides countless ideas for further research,” said Rose Lerer Cohen, a genealogist and organizer of the trip.  

Researchers used ITS documents to primarily research the fates of families. The researchers were able to fill in missing knowledge concerning how families were persecuted. “The archive contains a meaningful humanitarian aspect. It recounts the individual fates of the Holocaust and gives them a face,” according to Lerer Cohen. At the same time the ITS documentation plays an important role for Holocaust victims and their families. “The documents help people as much as they can to find emotional closure in dealing with the terrible events.  With this in mind, it is a shame that the archive was closed for so long.”  

A few days prior to the trip, several genealogists familiarized themselves with the ITS´s Central Name Index, which is available at Yad Vashem in digital form. In Bad Arolsen the group was able to gain additional insight into correspondence files, claims for restitution and survivor records from the post-war period. “It is astonishing what can be found here,” reported Lerer Cohen. “Researching the names has provided us with interesting clues for doing a more in-depth search.” In this way, the researcher is able to integrate what he has learned of his family history with the information found in the archive.  

Jewish genealogy also differs from the usual family research, Lerer Cohen explained. “The devastation of the Holocaust and the migration of the Jews influence the research. Genealogy plays a special role here and questions historical context more intensely.”