When I was younger, I remember hearing the phrase ‘Poland is one big Jewish cemetery’. This was a way of relating the fact that 90% of Polish Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. Usually it was stated by someone who was explaining why they would never visit Poland. Of course, when I was younger it was quite difficult to visit Poland, being that it was behind the Iron Curtain. I first visited Poland, less than two years after the fall of the Soviet Union, as part of the March of the Living in 1993. We visited a couple of cemeteries during that trip, including the Okopowa St. synagogue in Warsaw. The Okopowa St. cemetery has more than 80,000 gravestones still in existence, and has had money contributed to it from the local government to help preserve it. One wonders if the interest in preserving this particular cemetery is due to an interest in preserving the past, or perhaps an interest in encouraging more Jewish tourism. The lack of funds for other cemeteries in the country would tend to support the tourism theory.Continue reading Jewish cemeteries in Poland
A change mentioned previously has finally happened, and the Polish State Archives (PSA) site szukajwarchiwach.pl has started redirecting links to it to the new site szukajwarchiwach.gov.pl. I wrote about the differences between these two sites previously in Figuring out the Polish State Archive changes. Now that the change has happened I’ve taken some time to go through over 5000 links in the Compendium that go to the PSA web sites, and correct them. If you’re not interested in the technical details, just go look at the archival links for Polish towns in the Compendium. If you want to understand more about how and why these were added, see my original introduction to these links in Introducing archival records info in the Compendium. For more information about the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy in general, see About the Compendium.Continue reading Updates to Polish archive links
I am speaking at Rootstech Connect (February 25-27), the online conference sponsored by FamilySearch, that has over 500,000 registered attendees. Rootstech started out as a conference focused on the convergence of genealogy and technology, but over the past ten years has become the largest genealogy conference of any kind worldwide. This year’s conference is only online, and will be by far the biggest genealogy conference ever held.
I will be speaking about how best to utilize this site , in particular the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy (the link is available now: Using the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy). Like most of the lectures, mine will be available as video-on-demand, so you can watch it anytime during the 3-day conference, and should also be available for the next year online.Continue reading Speaking at Rootstech Connect
I’m happy to announce a new set of resources in the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy. I recently came across a set of files from the JDC Archives that is organized by town, and has all of the records scanned and online. These are referred to as the Warsaw Office, 1939-1941 Localities collection.
The documents in these files are for the most part correspondence between the Warsaw office of the American Joint Distribution Office and representatives of Jewish groups in over 500 different towns in Poland during the years 1939-1941. Frequently the group in the town was the German-organized Judenrat, although not always. Sometimes the organizations are local support organizations, and sometimes the letters are to individuals.
Some of these files consist of a single letter. Others have over 100 documents. While the letters can open up an important view into the lives of Polish Jews during the first years of the Holocaust, before the deportations to concentration camps, the more exciting feature of this collection are the lists.
Many of the towns have lists of people. These lists can be lists of all the Jews in the town, refugees from other towns, those who received financial assistance, and even those who received flour, matza and even herring. Considering the dearth of information on the lives of Jews during this period, I think these lists are incredibly important.
I did find some minor issues with the list of files which I tried to correct if I could. I’m also sending an e-mail to the JDC to mention them so they can be fixed. A few items on the list had incorrect links. Many of the items list the file language as English, even though essentially none of the files have any English in them. I think this must have been some default setting. Almost every file has documents in Polish, many have in German, and some are in Yiddish. A few files are just in German, but not too many.
These files will show up in over 500 Polish town pages (out of the more than 1400 on this site) in the Holocaust resource category. See the Holocaust category for the town of Żabno:
Continue reading JDC Warsaw Office Locality Files 1939-1941
Tonight I broadcast an overview of the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy on Facebook, which you can view below (or on Facebook itself). The B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy has over 25,000 Jewish genealogy resources covering over 200 countries. Find out more about it in this video:
Let me know what you think of the video. If you’re interested in me doing other videos, let me know in the comments.