Inspired by Edie Jarolim’s post Tarnow Calling in her great Freud’s Butcher blog, I’ve decided to share this document I discovered in a family album. The document is from a factory owned by a relative of mine in Tarnów, Poland. From the fill-in date portion, it seems the document is from the 1910s
The factory’s owner, Jacob Thüer (I knew the name as Thier, but my surname also had an umlaut at one point), was a brother of my great-grandmother Sala Thier Trauring, who I knew as a young child.
Jacob Thüer shows up in the Yad Vashem Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names (spelled as Thier, although shown the alternate spelling Thuer as well) with a Page of Testimony (PoT), filed by his daughter. The daughter, Klara Linger, lists herself as living in Sydney, Australia. She says her father died in 1943, presumably murdered by the Nazis.
Oddly, in the transcription of the PoT on the site, the name of the town of last residence is given as Ulicz, Poland. The problem is that there no Ulicz, Poland. Taking a closer look at the original scanned PoT, it’s clear the town listed is actually Tarnów, Poland, and the town was mis-transcribed (from what appears to be a neighborhood or street address before the town name). This is a good example of why you should always view the original scan of a Page of Testimony. If you find a mistake like this, Yad Vashem has a form to submit corrections (which I’ve done in this case).
In addition to the submitter Klara Linger, two other children of Jakob Thier are listed – Samuel and Rudolph Thier. It appears they were all living in Sydney, Australia at the time the PoT was filed, although that is not listed. I don’t know these descendants, but if you know these families from Australia, let me know.
I’m going to start with a digression. I’m not sure if you can digress before you have a main topic, but here we go.
In the past, when one did research into their Jewish relatives from Eastern Europe, the assumption was sometimes that there were no records that survived the Holocaust. This is not just a baseless assumption – I’ve personally been told many times by archivists in Eastern European countries that “All Jewish records were destroyed in the war.” When receiving such responses I sometimes wonder which of the following possibilities is the actual case:
- The Jewish records were, actually, destroyed (it did happen sometimes).
- The archivist knows exactly what records exists, but doesn’t care to tell you about them.
- The archivist doesn’t differentiate between Jews and non-Jews, and even though records were kept separately in the past, does not index them separately and thus is just saying there are no separate Jewish records (or a previous archivist did this, probably during the communist period, and this archivist doesn’t know the difference).
- The archivist is ignorant of what Jewish records exist.
Really only the first two possibilities are likely. It’s not likely that different collections would or even could be mixed together (certainly an archivist would realize the documents come from different collections), and it’s not likely an archivist would not know of the contents of their archive. Obviously sometimes it’s true, the records were
destroyed, and the archivist is telling you what happened. Sometimes, however, archivists seem disinclined to lift a finger to help you, for whatever reason it might be (laziness? antisemitism?) which you can decide on your own.
So how do you know what records exist for the town you’re researching? For records in (or in what once was) Poland, you can try searching JRI-Poland to see if they have indexed records for your town. There is actually a list of towns on the JRI-Poland web site, and if you follow the link to the town page you can find out many of the records that have been indexed for that town. Some records may not be listed, however, so it’s always a good idea to contact the town administrator and ask if there are other records as well (which might cost money).
One of the most important sites for Jewish genealogists is The Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation
(RTR) site. Miriam Weiner has worked to inventory the Jewish holdings of archives across Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Moldova (and some in Romania). This information was originally published in two books
covering Poland, and Ukraine and Moldova, which are now largely out of date, but the information is updated and expanded on the web site. Whenever new Jewish records from specific towns are located, they are added to this database.
In other words, if you want to see if birth records exist from your ancestral town, you search for the town, and can see what records are known to exist for that town. The records that exist may be in the local archive, might be in an archive in a country that used to be the same country as where your town is (such as the L’viv, Ukraine archives for records of towns in Poland), or could be in archives like CAHJP in Jerusalem.
For example, see the records available for Kanczuga, Poland (9 records groups), Odessa, Ukraine (16 records groups), and Krakow, Poland (30 record groups – including one from CAHJP).
I’m happy to see that the site has been improved, and it is now easier to get to the search interface.
In addition to the archival catalog, RTR has recently started added it’s own name databases.
|1929 Pulawy Taxpayer List
When name databases exist for a town, there will be a link at the top of the town archival holdings page. The following name databases were added as the first batch last month:
1929 List of Jewish taxpayers from Pulawy, Poland (460 names)
1928 List of Jewish taxpayers from Krasnystaw, Poland (560 names)
1936 List of Jewish taxpayers from Turobin, Poland (121 names)
1990 List of burials in Beltsy Jewish Cemetery (Moldova) (4,600 names approx)
1858 — List of heads of households in the town of Cherkassy, Ukraine, from the Revisky Skasky/census lists (307 names)
1894 – 1918 Heads of Jewish families that had a status of Meshchanin (petty bourgeois) in Odessa (4,505 names)
List of people who died in Belogorodka, Ukraine during the Holocaust (link to PDF)
1941 / List of Holocaust victims from Ozarintsy, Ukraine (69 names)
1941-1942 / List of Holocaust victims from Yaryshev, Ukraine (356 names)
1941-1942 / List of Holocaust victims from Yaruga, Ukraine (100 names)
1941-1944 / List of Holocaust victims from Mogilev Podolskiy, Ukraine (750 names)
1941-1944 / List of Holocaust victims from Kirovogrod (formerly Elizabetgrad), Ukraine (450 names)
1860-1884 / Index to Bialystok Jewish births (in process)
1889-1918 / Index to Family List of Jews in Priluki, Ukraine (approximately 600 families) (in process)
I’ve linked directly to the database search pages for each database.
This is an interesting development for RTR, and it will be interesting to see how these new databases develop. Hopefully they will add a single search interface for all the name databases in the future.
It’s always exciting to see new databases made available for Jewish genealogy. The previously mentioned JewishGen Memorial Plaques Database and four new databases in IGRA’s All Israel Database, as well as eight new databases added to Gesher Galicia’s All Galicia Database (I hope to post about this in the future), and these new databases from RTR all contribute greatly to Jewish genealogy. Certainly an exciting time to be involved in Jewish genealogy.
It’s common for new Jewish genealogy databases to be released shortly before the annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, which this year is taking place in my hometown of Boston. I already mentioned the 30,000 records in the new JewishGen Memorial Plaque Database.
- Graduates of Gymnasia Herzilia 1918-48
- List of Names in the Register of Adult Jews in Petah Tikva 1936
- Marriage certificates Jezreel Valley 1931-41
- Voter List Tel Aviv 1922
From the IGRA presentation:
That brings the total number of records added to IGRA databases since its launch last year to 168,112 records in 140 different databases. To see all of IGRA’s databases, go to their All Israel Database. You need to be logged into their site to search the databases, but signing up is free. Congratulations to the whole IGRA volunteer team that put these databases together.