Jewish Genealogy > Holocaust
The term Holocaust, Jewish (1939–1945) is used in this outline and the Family History Library Catalog to describe various records and publications that document the genocide of European Jews during World War II. Before WWII over 80% of the world’s Jews lived in Central and Eastern Europe. During WWII Jewish communities in these areas were systematically destroyed. The Holocaust, migration issues, and naming patterns are three major obstacles in Jewish genealogical research.
Following the war, the Jewish community began several large-scale undertakings to document the towns and people destroyed in the Holocaust. Three records of great importance to genealogical research are Yizkor books, Pages of Testimony, and lists of victims and deportees.
Yizkor, or memorial books. These publications are usually written in Hebrew or Yiddish and include the history of a Jewish community, memories of the community’s survivors, information from friends about families that had no survivors, a list of Holocaust victims from the town, and names and addresses of survivors. Yizkor books are usually privately printed in small publication runs. The following archives have significant collections of yizkor books:
YIVO Institute for Jewish research
Library of Congress
Jewish Public Library of Montreal
See "Archives and Libraries" in this outline for addresses and other information about the Jewish collections of these and other archives.
JewishGen has an ongoing project to facilitate access to yizkor books. Information is available at:
Pages of Testimony. These manuscripts were compiled by the Yad Vashem from 1955 to the present under authority of The Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Law. This collection has information on over 3 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Each page of testimony records the individual’s name, year and place of birth, names of parents and spouse, place of residence before the war, places of residence during the war, and circumstances of death (place, date, and so on). Each form is signed and dated by the person giving the testimony. Pages of Testimony are available only through the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem.
Lists of Victims and Deportees. Included in this category are names of Jews (reported by survivors) who were born in various countries and died during the Holocaust and lists of Jews who were deported from various countries. Some published books listing holocaust victims and deportees are:
Gedenkbuch, Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933–1945 (Memorial Book, The Victims of Jewish Persecution under the National Socialist Regime in Germany 1933–1945). 2 vols. Frankfurt/Main: Johannes Weisbecker, 1986. (FHL book 943 V4g.) Lists German Jews alphabetically with place of residence, date of birth, date of death or missing, and cause of fate due to persecution (usually the name of the concentration camp).
Lijst van nederlandse joden, gevangenen, en vermiste personen die gestorven zijn in concentratie kampen gedurende de tweede wereld oorlog: bijvoegsel tot de Nederlandse Staatscourant van donderdag 1949–1962 (List of Dutch Jews, prisoners, and missing persons who died in concentration camps during the second world war: supplement to the Netherlands State-Newspaper every Thursday 1949–1962). 3 vols. ‘s-Gravenhage: Staatsdrukkerij en Uitgeverijbedrijf, 1949–1950. (FHL book 949.2 V23n; film 1045357 item 1, 1181856 item 1, 1183644 item 11.)
Klarsfeld, Serge. Le memorial de la dportation des Juifs de France (Memorial of the Deported Jews of France). Paris: Beate et Serge Klarsfeld, 19––. (FHL book 944 F2k.) Lists alphabetically names of Jews transported in over 75 convoys to concentration camps in Germany and Poland. Includes name, birth date, and other information.
Many groups are compiling information about survivors of the Holocaust. For example, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has a national registry of survivors of the Holocaust who came to the United States after WWII. Information about people on this list can be obtained at the museum. See "Archives and Libraries" in this outline for further information about this repository.
The Family History Library has a few yizkor books and other information about the Jewish Holocaust. Check for these records in the Family History Library Catalog. Other sections of this outline that discuss records of Jews during the Holocaust include "Census" and "Concentration Camps."
A guide to researching Holocaust families is:
- Mokotoff, Gary. How to Document Victims and Locate Survivors of the Holocaust. Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, 1995. (FHL book 940 F2mo.)