Holocaust chronicled in archive

May 6, 2019

Irv Adler credits an archive and Elizabeth Anthony of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for changing his life.

With Anthony’s help and the International Tracing Service database, Adler found his last remaining relative who survived the Holocaust, he said Sunday while introducing Anthony to about two dozen people at the Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center.

The event was the Northeast Indiana Jewish Genealogy Society’s third public presentation and marked the nonprofit’s first anniversary, said Adler, its president.

The organization is dedicated to collecting, preserving and disseminating genealogical information, techniques and research tools to those interested in Jewish genealogy and family history.

Anthony’s responsibilities at the Holocaust museum include academic programming related to the International Tracing Service digital archive.

An “invaluable resource,” the archive has over 30 million documents containing information about victims of Nazi persecution, Anthony said, adding it encompasses about 17 million people.

“It’s bigger than we can imagine,” she said.

The United States is one of eight countries that has a copy of the digital archive, Anthony said. She noted the collection was closed to researchers until 2007.

It contains “tons and tons of lists” that include names, birth dates, birthplaces and inoculation records, she said.

“These were the lists that they used to round people up,” Anthony said of one digitized image.

With millions of documents, she said, it can be easy to overlook something notable. She displayed a prisoner transfer list that : it if weren’t for the dates and places : wouldn’t seem exceptional, she said.

“This is like any other transfer list in the archive, but this is actually a copy of Schindler’s list,” Anthony said, referring to Oskar Schindler, a German credited with saving more than 1,000 Jews during the Holocaust.

The collection was compiled by the Allies : mainly the British and Americans : who predicted there would be a refugee crisis following World War II, Anthony said. She noted they took the materials when liberating concentration camps.

“The fact that it exists : amazing,” Anthony said. “They had the foresight to put it all together in order to help trace individuals, reunite families.”

For more information, go to www.its-arolsen.org/en.