Tuesday, April 11, 2017

J is for Jewish Genealogy

There are some surnames in my ancestorial lineage that suggest they were Jewish who "converted". Most likely it was a forced conversion, due to the times and where they made their home. My maternal lineage was Catholics on one side and either Lutheran or Quakers or Dunkards on the other. It is from the Catholic side, that the Jewish surnames are prevalent.

According to Judaism 101 - searching for your Jewish ancestors is not as hard as you may have always thought. Granted, it isn't easy either. I'm thinking, African-American genealogy is probably more difficult. Many believe that the Nazi's destroyed all the Jewish records but according to this website, the Nazi's did not destroy records. Quite the contrary, they carefully preserved synagogue records of births, deaths, and marriages back to the 1840s... so they could identify Jews for extermination.

Currently, I am searching for a "cousin" that was born on April 19, 1897, in Gailbach, Germany. He arrived at the Dachau Concentration camp on Sept 16, 1937. He was 40 years old. From the records, he was living in Switzerland. On Sept 29, 1939, he was transferred to Mauthausen. That is where the information has stopped for me.

Mauthausen was located in Austria. From the Mauthausen/Gusen Death Book, it says, "This death book, with 38,206 names, is not a complete list, since several thousand prisoners, particularly Russian prisoners of war, were never entered into the records, but simply murdered. There were relatively few Jewish prisoners in Mauthausen in the early years, but near the end of WWII this changed and thousands of Jewish forced laborers, particularly Hungarian, were sent to Gusen. The death book includes the names of 10,517 persons identified as Jews. Nearly 68,000 prisoners were held in Gusen before liberation on May 5, 1945. While not a death camp in the strict sense of that term, conditions were so bad that a majority of the prisoners died there."

Between August 8, 1938, and liberation on May 5, 1945, approximately 195,000 prisoners were in Mauthausen. Estimates are that 150,000 perished. The first inmates were German and Austrian political dissidents and priests.

Was this cousin a political dissident or was he a Catholic Priest? Still trying to decipher if he was actually Jewish or perhaps he was a Righteous Gentile?

Here are some Jewish research websites you might look into:

Jewish Gen Databases

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  1. It makes it all so real when you read of an actual person who could be related and what he must have endured. We are so lucky in comparison.

  2. I know about the detailed records because....I have the very unfortunate/fortunaterecords of my mom's ancestry. My mom was born in 1928 in Wittenberg, Germany. In 1942, her sister, my Tante Ilse, got married but before she could marry, it had to be proven there was no Jewish blood so they had to have their ancestry done. All the records were investigated 4 generations back which is why I have all the records of the baptisms, marriages of my mom's side of the family. It is written in the old German letters which my mom could decipher and it has the stamp of the eagle and swaztika on it. This is why i say it is unfortunate because this comes from something so horrid but fortunate because I have these records

  3. The german was one huge atrocity on the Jewish race and people/generations are still recovering from it.
    I hope you find your cousin soonest :-)
    All the best!!!
    Theme: Peregrination Chronicles (travel)
    J is for Japanese dancers in the hot sands of Pushkar #atozchallenge

  4. This is sad, and amazing... how you can trail ppl to a point, and then just lose track.

  5. I've visited Dachau Concentration camp, it's almost beyond comprehension and imagination.
    Very interesting research question - Was this cousin a political dissident or was he a Catholic Priest?


    Sandra, Dropping by from the A to Z Challenge Aspiring family historian, fellow participant in the #AtoZchallenge

    Sandra's Ancestral Research Journal

  6. Thanks for visiting me! I do hope and pray you find your cousin. It was the most inhumane of evils committed on the Jews by the most ruthless of beasts. I am Muslim, and I feel for the Jews and Christians as well because all these religions are from the same chain of Abrahamic prophets. I pray that people see each others hearts as the common denominators that bind us all.

  7. My uncle did genealogical research on my family that came to the United States but not much on those who were left behind in Pinsk. And I have nothing on my mother's side past her parents. I suspect that everyone related to me who stayed in the "old country" perished in World War II. I haven't had the heart (or stomach) to confirm what I feel is true.

  8. My dad's side of the family was all Jewish but so far, I haven't found anyone involved in the Holocaust. And I hope it stays that way. As an aside, I'm very late with my reading but found it interesting that your cousin was born on April 19 and here I am on April 19 reading this. Happy birthday to your cousin!

  9. The Holocaust was a terrible thing to happen...
    I had seen a video in which the researchers proved from the gene-study that 2 individuals from different continents were actually related as cousins. We all share so much in common...
    The Explorer of Miracles

  10. This sort of a research must be terribly difficult, but at the same time heartening because you're helping to make sure that those people weren't forgotten.

    Cait @ Click's Clan


About Me

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Stay at home Mom to 1 dog and 2 cats. I am the "big sister" in the photo. My baby sister, passed away unexpectedly, Sept. 2015 at the young age of 56. I miss her terribly. Everyone in my childhood family has now passed. I have 3 sons. My oldest son died in 2003 at the age of 25. I am not LDS. I do enjoy History and GENEALOGY has become my hobby and my passion.